Wayne Kemp is the kitchen manager at The Poynton, a premium retirement village located on Auckland’s north shore. A seasoned hospitality professional, he first started experimenting in the kitchen at the tender age of eight, baking cakes under the supervision of his mother, a cooking teacher.
Upon leaving school, he supported his part-time studies by working full time, achieving a City & Guilds Qualification. He subsequently spent six years working as a head chef at various establishments around the South Island before returning to Auckland to work in a hotel.
“That’s where I learnt a lot of the skills I have today,” Kemp told AgedPlus Magazine. “We have every kind of service and amenity that the top hotels in New Zealand have here at The Poynton. The only difference is that we have 24-hour nurses on site for our guests, and a 99 percent occupancy rate, which must be the envy of every hotel!”
Following a stint as executive chef for Auckland’s largest convention centre, where he and his team were required to provide plated meals and buffets for up to 1000 people at a time, Kemp and a business partner set up Pickles Café and Catering, eventually opening three outlets. Selling the company after five years, Kemp returned to work for a convention centre for seven years, before taking up his position at The Poynton, initially as a temp.
“I got a placement at The Poynton just for a month,” said Kemp. “I enjoyed interacting with the residents and the staff, and when their chef left, I was offered the job. I’m coming up on three years here and still loving every minute.”
Whilst life at The Poynton follows many of the same rhythms as in a hotel, with a la carte breakfast and lunch seven days a week, a licensed café with cabinet foods and barista-made coffee, and a la carte dinners on Thursdays and Fridays in a licensed restaurant, Kemp is keenly aware of the extra steps aged care providers must take to ensure their residents’ needs are taken care of. All of his menus must be dietician-approved, and whilst, like many chefs, he was no fan of texture-modified foods, a brief stay in hospital confirmed for Kemp the importance of making such allowances.
“After staying in hospital for two weeks and eating nothing by mouth the whole time, I realised how important meals are to residents. As long as it’s tasty, healthy, and presented nicely, residents really look forward to their meals, even if they are pureed. I would have given my right leg to get any type of pureed food in hospital.”
It’s perhaps for this reason that Kemp has noticed an increasing trend for slow-cooked meats like beef cheeks or lamb shanks in the aged care sector. Cooked over a low heat for up to twelve hours, the end result’s ‘melt in your mouth’ texture provides both a functional and delicious meal solution for those less able to chew. Elsewhere on the menu, Kemp’s salt and pepper calamari and Guinness hot pot have been staples of his repertoire for years and remain firm favourites at The Poynton.
Over the coming months, Kemp and his team are planning on introducing some new and exciting dining experiences for residents, including spit roast rolls served every Saturday at The Poynton’s BBQ courtyard with salads and drinks, alongside Streets ice cream. Towards the end of summer, the introduction of a happy hour in The Poynton’s licensed restaurant is sure to go down a storm, and Kemp’s plans to introduce optional takeaway hot meals will provide residents with a regular opportunity to dine in their apartment at leisure.
Outside of work, Kemp remains an enthusiastic chef, with a particular taste for Indian and Thai cuisine, a passion he sometimes indulges at The Poynton. “We did an authentic Indian buffet here in conjunction with some of our residents,” he explained. “It was so successful we had to bring in more tables. For our tenth anniversary, we also put on a cocktail party for 250 people, showcasing food representing all our residents’ different cultures from around the world.”
I realised how important meals are to residents. As long as it’s tasty, healthy, and presented nicely, residents really look forward to their meals, even if they are pureed.