Christmas lunch to keep BRHS kitchen busy

Two vertical images are presented: one features Food Services staff member Michael Hilditch in a white chef's tunic a black cap, carving a baked ham. The second image features BRHS BRHS executive chef Cam Penwill with three members of staff standing among stainless steel kitchen equipment in the hospital kitchen.

If an army marches on its stomach, as the saying goes, so too does a hospital.

And the dedicated Food Services team at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service, which feeds a small army of people three times a day, every day, will do it with a few special touches on Christmas Day for patients, aged care residents and staff.

It’s a little dash of seasonal cheer that might lift the spirits of people who, for whatever reason, are at BRHS and away from their loved ones on Christmas Day.

Executive chef and Food Services Manager Cameron Penwill said patients, aged care residents and staff can expect a traditional Christmas lunch including orange honey-glazed ham, roast turkey and plum pudding custard on Christmas day.

“We try and give them all the Christmas stuff. We do the whole hospital and Maddocks Gardens aged care as well,” Cameron said.

“We probably feed about 50 staff for lunch and 30 for dinner. The hospital won’t be full, but generally we have about 65 patients and probably 90 aged care residents as well.”

The task requires a lot of food, Cameron said. “For patients, we will go through about 25kg of ham and 30kg of turkey. For the staff lunch, we will use about the same amount of ham and turkey along with about 30 whole roast chickens and 20kg of potatoes,” he said.

Around 20 staff will work in the kitchen on Christmas Day. Cameron said there is something special about working in the hospital at Christmas.

“We participate in the staff lunch, obviously. Our guys do a Kris Kringle – only the people who are there on the day,” he said.

“It’s a pretty good day. Everyone’s happy. There’s a different vibe. The residents are just a little bit brighter over at Maddocks Gardens.”

Cameron’s pick of the menu is his glazed ham.

“I do a honey and orange glaze for the hams, which are studded with cloves. That gets slow baked in the oven for 2.5-to-three hours,” he said.

“The staff love the hams. Every year, they reckon they can smell the aroma of the hams wafting through the hospital.”

BRHS Chief Executive Officer Robyn Hayles said she appreciates the efforts of all hospital staff, including the Food Services team, every day – but especially on Christmas Day.

“We’re really grateful to everyone who gives up time with family and friends to look after our patients and aged care residents on Christmas Day,” she said.

“Our Food Services staff puts in a huge effort each day to ensure our patients and our Maddocks Gardens residents are well fed, and our many other workers do a fantastic job caring for our patients and aged care residents, but we appreciate their special sacrifice on Christmas Day. Thank you.”

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