For six years Susie Gardiner has cooked for the residents at Enliven’s Levin War Veterans Home, and she credits her whānau of 12 for her capacity to create comforting kai.
Of Ngāti Wehiwehi descent, Susie also learnt how to prepare food for large numbers from the elders at Manakau marae.
“We all spent a lot of time at the marae over the years and everyone in the family learned to cook,” she says.
Susie’s experience prior to Levin Home included established Levin eateries such as the Levin Club, the Masonic Village café and her sister-in-law Raewyn’s café on the main street. Susie learnt the technicalities of pastry and desserts from her sister-in-law, one of Levin’s first female pastry chefs.
The dining room at Levin Home provides options for self-service which Susie says residents enjoy as it means they can help themselves.
“The most popular meal is the classic Sunday roast with all the trimmings,” says Susie. “I make sure the meat we serve, whether it’s beef, lamb or chicken, is tender enough for the residents. It gives me the most pleasure out of all the meals to see them enjoying what we cook.”
Levin Home’s new kitchen team leader Natalie Gausel says she is learning the ropes with the help of Susie and Karen Ransfield, who also works in the kitchen.
“I ask Susie and Karen for help every day. They are flexible with their time and we’re working well together as we have complimentary skills. It’s a family feel,” says Natalie.
The family feel also encompasses Susie’s brother Hoko Gardiner and his father-in-law, who are both residents.
“I feel blessed to be able to cook for the whānau here at Levin Home,” says Susie.
Enliven is always on the lookout for great people to join the team. If you, or someone you know is looking for a role in aged care, view our available jobs.