Meet the Chef: Warwick Mcindoe, Summerset Warkworth

Warwick Mcindoe from Summerset, Warkworth is a passionate chef with aspirations to learn daily, provide the best for the industry and inspire others to join the unique experience of providing the best service for New Zealand’s seniors.

Mcindoe started in the hospitality industry at the age of 12 in a small dairy ice cream bar in Warkworth, rolling ice creams and stocking shelves before and after school before moving on to work in cafes. When he decided to make a career out of hospitality, this small-town boy gained a scholarship to study culinary skills at Polytech.

“While studying, I worked in a restaurant serving Maori cuisine where I learned about natural herbs and spices. This led me into fine food corporate catering and learning from some amazing chefs,” Mcindoe told Aged Plus magazine.

Once he found his feet in the industry, Mcindoe wanted to step out of his comfort zone and go into café management. He went on to lead four restaurant teams within the West Auckland RSA with the Auckland RSA giving him the opportunity to run his own RSA kitchen. After these enterprises, Mcindoe then purchased a small café and ran a catering business before being given the opportunity to apply for a position in the aged care sector as a food service manager.

“Learning about clinical and DHB requirements within aged care helped me decide that this was the industry I’m most passionate about - to help our elders lead and have the greatest last years of their lives,” Mcindoe explained.

“Over the years I watched and listened to the amount of discrimination in the aged care industry, I wanted to help make the industry better for our elders in aged care, retirement, and hospital living. The industry has a lot of room to change for the better.”

Mcindoe worked alongside the Pure Foods company and a clinical Nurse in completing study with Massy university with for the NZAC/EBOS healthcare awards in 2019. While completing these studies he also helped in the development of new serving techniques with Pure Foods.

“We also worked alongside celebrity chef Simon Gault in redesigning food for the aged care sector, developing different cooking techniques that would help with infusing more flavours and giving residents a greater experience, broadening residents’ tastes, and allowing them to try new food.”

In his current position, Mcindoe has taken this experience and used it to find out where the faults in the sector lie. His management style has given him a deeper understanding of the frustrations in aged care kitchens and how to remedy them.

His typical day starts by baking morning tea for 80-90 people, which includes a lot of residents with specific health and dietary requirements, so care is taken with preparation. Morning tea leads into a hearty lunch, something that is important in helping to maintain residents’ weight, which can be a concern.

“Between all aspects of daily prep, the team communicates clearly so that we can provide the best for those that we care for,” noted Mcindoe.

It is the special preparation for specific dietary requirements that is the biggest difference Mcindoe has found between working in the aged care sector and cooking in a restaurant or café. He and his team must balance cooking to a daily required menu that has dietitian approval with cooking to a large scale, meeting all requirements that are necessary with each resident. The typical pressures of working in a kitchen and sticking to a tight schedule remain the same.

“The best thing for our team is to have a laugh and enjoy what we are doing.”

According to Mcindoe, the most rewarding aspect of his job is hearing the positive impact he and his team have made in residents’ lives, he also likes having a good laugh and chat with the residents while serving their meals.

When he’s not in the professional kitchen Mcindoe spends time relaxing with his family and friends and researching new cooking techniques he can use at work. In fact, Mcindoe’s educational journey is far from over.

“I am currently looking to complete some more studies that will positively impact my career progression,” concluded Mcindoe.

“This is so I can positively help the aged care sector and create a better future for all of us so that everyone can feel safe making the decision to have our loved ones cared for by others.”