For hospital patients, the prospect of something delicious and nutritious to eat helps dissolve the boredom, which is why a great day for Julia Hawkins, Food Services Manager at North Shore Hospital, is when she knows that the patients enjoyed the dishes they ordered from the menu.
“I like hearing that a meal service has gone well. Really good food helps in a patient’s recovery and it’s a great feeling to know that what we cook can help people get better,” says Julia. Her personal favourite on the menu is delicately baked fresh fish in a light and creamy parsley sauce.
The seasoned caterer started work at the hospital after completing a degree in nutrition. She was a menu processor, making sure patients got the right nutrients to help get them back on their feet.
A challenging stint as a kitchen supervisor followed, and after six months in the job, Julia took up her manager’s suggestion to tackle a Catering Apprenticeship that would give her more skills and advance her career.
ServiceIQ’s Catering Apprenticeship combines real workplace experience with comprehensive skills training. It’s a time proven method where trainees master new skills by applying them continually as they work.
Julia says: “It gave me more confidence in my day-to-day job and it gave my manager more confidence in me to make decisions and work independently. The knowledge you gain gives you the ability to take the initiative, to problem solve, and to suggest ideas and improvements.
Away from the kitchen, she learnt theory, new techniques, and trained with others at several off-site workshops.
“It’s an easy way to learn because the paperwork relates directly to what you’re doing on the job. It puts the knowledge in context. For me the most beneficial thing in the whole programme is meeting other catering apprentices who are in exactly the same position. It’s great to be able to talk and share ideas. I found it really invaluable.”
Julia completed her apprenticeship in three years, gaining National Certificates in Catering Levels 3 & 4.
Today she oversees the delivery of appetising breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, organises budgets, supervises a team of chefs, and manages the production and delivery of hot, tasty and nutritious dishes to almost 800 patients - the daily food service includes 520 patients at Northshore hospital, 200 patients at satellite sites - the Mason Clinic and Wilson Centre – and 65 meals-on-wheels patients.
Every day she relishes the thrill of successfully pulling off another full scale meal service for patients.
“It’s a great career – I think a lot of people see catering work as a fill-in until they find a real job. But it’s actually really interesting and there are lots of different things you can do – it’s not just cooking and cleaning. I would say that if you are interested in getting into catering on a larger scale, the ServiceIQ Catering Apprenticeship is perfect because it’s specific to the job you do on site. It covers everything – from cooking and food handling to the back office skills of costing, budgeting, ordering and general financial management.”