Chef delights in Aged Care19th January 2021 | 6 mins
Many chefs have a signature dish. For Samira, our head chef at Quakers Hillside, that special dish is baklava. Samira says that baking the decadent Middle Eastern treat instantly takes her back to her mother’s kitchen, whereas a 12-year-old her passion for cooking first emerged. The aroma of the lighter-than-air filo pastry, fresh from the oven, smothered in warm honey syrup regularly fills the dining room at Quakers Hillside. Samira’s baklava is a special favourite with residents and she receives regular requests for a batch to celebrate special occasions and often “just because”.
Born in Egypt, Samira moved with her husband to Australia in 2008. She found that her role as a physical education teacher didn’t transfer readily from Egypt to the Australian education system and had some decisions to make as a result. Samira describes this as a pivotal moment in determining her future career path. Her love of cooking and background in education and nutrition meant that a role as a childcare cook seemed a good fit. She followed this path for a while before branching out with her own catering business, often cooking for 200 people at a time. Although she thoroughly enjoyed running her own business, with two small children Samira realised that something would have to give.
It was around this time that she noticed an advertisement for a General Services Officer at Quakers Hillside, only a few minutes from home. Visiting for the first time, Samira said she immediately felt at home and knew “it was simply meant to be.” Never one to rest on her laurels, Samira began training at TAFE to obtain qualifications to enable promotion to the role of Cook and ultimately her current role as Head Chef, leading the hospitality team.
One of Samira’s great loves is celebrating the cultural diversity of her residents through food. Each month Samira, her team, and residents prepare delicacies from a different cultural background. Samira says, “Everyone dresses up and has a ball, learning a bit more about each other while exploring different cuisines.”
Samira says she’s really found her calling as a chef, preparing meals with love for our elders. Her incredible passion is evident as she says “When I come into our home in the morning, I want to put the feeling of happiness in my cooking. I believe if you cook with this attitude, the love really comes through.”
Watch our video of Samira below
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