Elior chefs mobilized to make meals for the elderly a moment of pleasure
Addressing the nutritional challenges of the elderly and disabled
IDÉQUATIO was developed specifically by Elior for dependent elderly people as well as all patients and residents suffering from dysphagia, who are either disabled or in follow-up and rehabilitation care and whose capacity to eat has been impaired by the effects of age or disease. The objective is two-fold: to enable these guests to enjoy, and feel safe eating by reducing the element of fear – and in some cases their refusal to feed themselves, and to support catering staff in specialized establishments. This solution contributes toward the fight against under-nutrition, which is defined as an imbalance between a person’s nutritional intake and the body's needs.
The success of these textured meals is based on a balance between culinary savoir-faire and nutritional expertise. For this reason, Elior has created two-person chef / dietician teams, whereby dieticians supplement the knowledge of chefs by explaining directly to nursing staff the more scientific aspects of the textured-food.
Culinary workshops designed to train chefs in food-texture issues and techniques
For several months, around fifty chefs in all the regions where Elior group is present attended a workshop to receive training in the IDÉQUATIO offer. It was essential Chefs receive training in the nutritional issues of elderly persons as well as in new culinary techniques so that they could offer textures adapted to the residents they feed.
These on-site workshops therefore made it possible to involve the chefs in the catering offer and give them the keys needed to successfully deploy it in their restaurants. When chefs are convinced by, and trained in the catering solution, their teams can deploy it more effectively. In most nursing homes, for example, three members of the kitchen staff work on a daily basis to provide textured meals: one on starters, cheeses and desserts, one on hot dishes, and one on dressings.
Two challenges addressed during this training program involved raising the chefs’ awareness to the importance of textured-meal dressings, and modernizing the way meals are presented notably by proposing a variety of dressings (molded, cookie cutters, pocket, etc.) so as to avoid monotony. Likewise, sticking as close as possible to the original recipe helps to stimulate residents’ appetites. For example, chefs learned how to best present a textured egg mayonnaise, using a pastry bag, and how to prepare a puff-pastry pie in the same way as a traditional pie, using a cookie cutter.
The idea was therefore to learn to present meals in a modern, simple and colorful way, so as to stimulate the appetite.
Another challenge is reproducing the taste of the original recipe, for which the participant chefs learnt a few tips. Poultry meat, for example, can be kept tender, by using natural texturizers such as egg whites and cream.
These training sessions were greatly appreciated by the chefs. Given that more than 30% of retirement home residents eat textured meals, the challenge is quite daunting. These workshops allow chefs to add more value to the meals they cook, which is an additional source of pride for their profession.