Date: 8 October 2015

The Whiddon Group Bourke employee Barry Dawson has been named the NSW State winner in the 2015 Aged Care Hospitality Awards ‘Cook of the Year’ category.

The award recognises Barry’s positive attitude and outstanding dedication to the quality and presentation of food produced.

Barry, who has cooked for Whiddon’s residents for a year now, has already made a significant difference to the home and the residents’ lifestyle and wellbeing.

Originally a shearer for 20 years, Barry is a great cook and puts a lot of love and thought into his meals, ensuring all residents have input into the daily menus.

He has adopted an ‘open kitchen’ approach, which involves him cooking in front of the residents so they watch and openly interact during meal time. Barry also uses this time to figure out what they feel like eating on any given day.

Barry is very particular about meal presentation. He likes to turn simple dishes into fancy creations, sometimes adding ingredients like mint or lettuce leaves for decoration. Because of his creativity, residents not only look forward to his meals because they are hungry, but because they are excited to see Barry’s inspired food creations.

Supporting local suppliers in a small town like Bourke is as important to Barry as using fresh, seasonal produce, and he takes great pride in sourcing his ingredients locally, with special dietary ingredients provided from larger regional towns. Barry goes to great lengths to make sure that each tastebud is catered to, sometimes making 2 or 3 variations of the same meal so that no one is disappointed.

In addition to his amazing efforts as Whiddon Bourke’s Cook, Barry also goes above and beyond as a volunteer, spending much of his own time visiting the residents and creating strong bonds.

“There isn’t enough time to do everything I want during work hours, and I love being with the residents – they’re like family,” he said.

Barry regularly brings in his two dogs to visit, especially when residents are feeling lonely or sad, and has built a veggie patch onsite.

“When I see the big smiles on the residents’ faces when my dogs walks in, I just love it,” he said.

The veggie patch lead to the development of the inaugural ‘Rivergum Tomato Club’, with seeds from a prize-winning giant tomato that came from his father.

“When I started the Tomato club using the seeds that may father had grown, my family became included in the home too, which gave my elderly father a new lease on life. He was able to tell all of his friends back home about it, and it was really special for all of us.” he said.

Barry has also befriended the male residents and volunteers his time, enjoying ‘blokey time’ and taking them on errands to ensure that they are actively involved in their community.

“Some of the residents do not have many relatives or friends, so they really rely on us for friendship and company. I get to spend every day with my friends – how good is that!” he said.

A man of many talents, Barry is also the maintenance man at Whiddon Bourke and Walgett, and is always available on call to support his colleagues.

Barry meets all his responsibilities with dedication and is always happy to help when he can. He makes a huge contribution to the Whiddon Bourke home and has created a very special bond with all residents.

Barry will now progress to the National finals, with the winners being announced at the Gala Dinner to be held at the Pullman Melbourne on the Park on Friday October 30, 2015.