A hotel kitchen is no match for the St Stephen’s Hospital team camaraderie and patient smiles according to chef Michael Kash.
A passionate chef who loves to cook, Mike was approached to work at the hospital when it was located in Maryborough, but with a young family in Hervey Bay at the time, he just couldn’t commit to the travel required.
“About five years ago when the hospital moved to ‘the Bay’, I was ready to leave the nightshifts behind and I haven’t looked back,” Mike said.
“We have a great team in the kitchen of five chefs and 15 Patient Support Assistants.” he said.
“We really appreciate our Patient Support Assistants – they do all the running around, dishes and cleaning duties and we wouldn’t be able to run such an organised commercial kitchen without them.” he said.
In a day, the team prepare 180 in-patient meals as well as sandwiches for day surgery patients. A popular onsite café for staff and the wider community has a selection of freshly prepared meals, flowers and locally created cakes.
“I just love cooking and seeing the smile on a patient’s face at meal times,” Mike said.
“I enjoy combining ingredients and flavour creating. I’m a mad scientist you could say, I’m always making different breads, sauces, curries, anything really!
“It can be challenging to adjust to the variations in dietary requirement but making sure our patients have the correct food is really important to their recovery.
“My favourite thing is the staff appreciation days, where we cook up a storm for the staff. My most memorable was during NAIDOC week when I made lemon pepper crocodile, marinaded in honey, chilli and lime,” he said.
Like many areas outside of the city, Hervey Bay has suffered few COVID-19 restrictions.
“We haven’t really had too much up to affect us here and our work remained pretty much the same,” Mike said.
“There is some mask wearing at the moment but compared what others have had to do in the city, it’s not that bad.
“We’re close knit hospital who run our own café so you get to meet lots of the staff and those in the community.
“We enjoy being part of the UnitingCare team,” he said.
Mike’s passion for food has seen him apply for Queensland Chef of the Year for the second time.
“My first experience was pretty intense so I know what to expect. Everything was so fast - it wasn’t as enjoyable as I thought it would be but I’m still keen to give it a go!” Mike said.
“I have to wait to hear whether I’ll make it into the competition in August,” he said.
Good luck Mike – great to have you in our St Stephen’s Hospital team.