Sharing a meal or cooking with friends or family is a universal thread that brings people together. Afterall, we all must eat to live, and doing it together allows us to stay connected and strengthen our relationships.
For the young people and staff in our residential care homes, together with the local High-Risk Youth Unit (HRYU) Police, collective dining is an effective way to build relationships and trust with each other.
Amidst the pandemic lockdown, a creative and fun opportunity was identified to foster positive relationships between MacKillop residential care homes in the region. As is usually the case, it started with a friendly banter on who makes the best breakfast in the region - each house claiming the title. And thus ‘The Breakfast Challenge’ was borne.
Each week, two houses faced each other to cook and deliver the best breakfast, with staff attending to both enjoy and judge the feasts.
“In our region, we would like to think that we enjoy the simplicity of participating, but the reality is we are quite competitive and there was no shortage of enthusiasm and friendly banter in the weeks leading up to the round robins,” commented Area Manager, Matthew.
“We are fortunate to have several former chefs that worked in high end restaurants who now work in the homes, and a number of our young people with a strong interest and talents in preparing amazing food.”
Throughout the challenge, the young people showed enthusiasm to learn, perseverance, and creative problem solving. From subtly determining the judging panel’s palate preferences and crafting hand-made menus and décor, to creating the dining experience with an array of original culinary delights and pitches to the judging panel as to why their breakfast was the best, the young people took to the challenge with an impressive gusto.
“My favourite part of the challenge was preparing the food and seeing how competitive everybody was,” explains one of the young people involved in the challenge.
“I really liked the food. It was so yummy, and it really made me laugh seeing how much everybody wanted to win”.
Matthew adds; “The young people and staff were absolutely thrilled with the challenge.”
“It provided a fun and engaging activity to do, particularly whilst we were all restricted and in various stages of lockdown.”
“Many of us were surprised at the quality and creativity of the breakfasts, and it gave us all an excuse to come together with young people, staff and our supporting partners to share a beautiful breakfast in great company.”
With this round of ‘The Breakfast Challenge’ complete, staff and young people in our residential care are already looking ahead into how they can enhance the challenge.
“For the next round, maybe we could take an order menu and cook to order,” says Matthew.
“For other people wanting to give the challenge a go, the personalised décor was certainly a winner and made everyone feel a bit special - I think that is a must for everyone.”