By Haldimand Press Staff
As the full-time cook at West Haldimand General Hospital (WHGH), Beverley Pankhurst brings her own grandmother’s recipes into the kitchen to keep staff, patient, and visitor taste buds entertained.
“Both my grandmothers owned restaurants and were creating new recipes all the time. My paternal grandmother handed down those recipes to me and encouraged me to make them my own!” said Bev, who has worked at WHGH for 32 years. “I enjoy being creative in the kitchen and I am grateful that I can use my talents to make a difference here at the hospital.”
The staff of WHGH are grateful for those recipes! Every day staff visit the cafeteria in anticipation of what new menu item they will taste. Buffalo chicken pizza, gnocchi soup, and teriyaki glazed sesame chicken are just a few staff favourites. In addition to her delicious meals, Bev bakes muffins every morning, often combining flavours you wouldn’t think would work. She said when you make muffins every day you have to be creative! Tomato soup and raisins were the inspiration for one such muffin, while another combined mandarin orange with a coconut topping.
While Bev has plenty of fun with her recipes, it is difficult work. She arrives at 5:45 a.m. to prepare for the day. A second staff member arrives shortly after to help and they begin with cooking breakfast for up to 23 patients. Next up is lunch, so a third staff member arrives at 10 a.m. to assist with the additional volume needed. As Bev explains, it’s a job she couldn’t do alone: “The entire dietary team works together. The fridges and freezers are always stocked. The paperwork is always done. The patients are always fed.”
The patient menu is created by a dietician in consultation with Bev – and with consideration of patient feedback. There is a nine-day cycle rotation menu that follows Canada’s Food Guide, along with therapeutic requirements such as avoiding salt, mincing or pureeing foods, and so on based on patient need to aid in their recovery. The team also creates snack packs for emergency department patients.
Food Services Manager Karen McKellar explained that under the current situation, “Things are definitely different. During non-COVID-19 conditions, the dietary staff would deliver the meals and now that role has shifted to the housekeeping staff to minimize exposure to more staff.”
“We used to have a self-serve salad bar and now Bev and the team have fun creating individual salads in all varieties. The staff absolutely love it and are always eager to see what creations await them,” continued Karen. “Social distancing is in place in the cafeteria, so only one person per table is allowed. We have also closed the cafeteria to patients and visitors. This means we no longer see the high school students who would faithfully come for lunch.”
While things may be different in the WHGH kitchen and cafeteria for now, Bev and her co-workers will continue cooking up delicious meals for the staff and patients that remain.
Bev added, “We’re all looking forward to seeing public again, once it is safe to do so, of course!”