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Maggie Beer Foundation: Bringing cooking and care closer together

The Maggie Beer Foundation, with funding from the Department of Health and Aged Care, is forging ahead in its mission to directly and positively influence the kitchens of over 250 Australian aged care homes by 2026.

The foundation’s range of free educational programs offers extensive support and training for aged care providers, cooks and chefs to improve food, dining and nutritional outcomes for residents.

The first wave of Maggie Beer Foundation free Trainer Mentor Programs has commenced, and 21 (of a total 120 over 3 years) aged care homes are now paired with a qualified Foundation Chef Trainer for a year of bespoke, in-home mentorship.

The second wave of successful Trainer Mentor Program Homes was announced by the Selection Committee in April, while the deadline for third-round submissions was 22 April 2024.

Catholic Healthcare’s Gertrude Abbott Home was chosen as one of the first homes to pilot the Trainer Mentor Program’s initial wave and embraced their week of in-home training with enthusiasm.

The Maggie Beer Foundation will work with Gertrude Abbott’s Chef Manager, Claudine Boydell, and her team over the next twelve months as part of a program designed to enhance the dining experience for residents.

A special lunch was held to launch the program and, putting her words into practice, Maggie Beer and her team rolled up their sleeves with the kitchen team to produce Greek-inspired fare, featuring tzatziki, chicken, and slow-cooked lamb, accompanied by a salad and flatbread made by the residents.

Maggie Beer Foundation project leader Jemma Gonzalez said the program is all about getting back to basics and flavour.

“So, homemade gravy, homemade soups…that’s where the flavour is,” Ms Gonzalez said.

“The entire week at Gertrude Abbott has been amazing. The foundation worked closely with the kitchen team and through cooking lunch, we’ve made some adaptations to the recipes so that we could boost flavour…and the chef trainers worked with each team member to finesse their cooking techniques.”

Highlighting the importance of the Trainer Mentor Program, aged care advocate and renowned Australian cook Maggie Beer said there is no specialised training for aged care, and it’s a complex arena, particularly with texture-modified foods.

“So, I could see the gaps. I got to hear all the brick walls. And I also understood the only real way is to be hands-on,” Ms Beer said.

Furthermore, Catholic Healthcare’s Senior Manager, Hospitality and Housekeeping Services, Catherine McGoldrick, said that what she would like to see is best practice developed at Gertrude Abbott and The Haven in Wagga.

“Then for us to be able to share this expertise [mentor tools, techniques and recipes] to that wider reach, to our chef managers,” Ms McGoldrick said.

The Trainer Mentor Program includes menu appraisal from a Certified Practicing Dietitian, resident, family and staff Food Satisfaction Questionnaires, as well as one week of intensive, onsite chef training leading into a tailored 12-month virtual and online support program.

Maggie Beer has visited each of the Trainer Mentor Homes so far.

“We don’t come across anyone who doesn’t want change and this is the most intense job I can imagine for a chef,” Ms Beer said.

“It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done. To be able to change, we need this education and it’s in the kitchens where real, lasting change will be made.”

The process for the Trainer Mentor Program application is explained in detail on the Maggie Beer Foundation website ( and the foundation training team is available to talk through any questions at

Improving food in aged care

A $5 million investment from the federal government in the Maggie Beer Foundation is assisting the delivery of the Trainer Mentor Program, which is part of a larger scope of the free Improving Food in Aged Care through Education and Training program.

Participation in the three-year program will help residential aged care homes meet the strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards for food and nutrition. 

All aged care providers are invited to participate in the program, encouraging a whole sector uplift in food and nutrition to support staff and ensure older Australians are receiving dignified care. 

Current program opportunities (alongside the Trainer Mentor Program) to support providers, homes, cooks and chefs include the following.

1. State and Territory Hubs

State and Territory Hubs are short course virtual workshops, making free training accessible to more aged care cooks and chefs, with nothing more than a computer, webcam, and WiFi. 

Hub topics cover everything from texture-modified meal plating techniques to kitchen team communication strategies. Each Hub runs for 2.4 hours per week, over a 3-week block, and upcoming sessions are listed on the Maggie Beer Foundation website. Larger-scale aged care providers are invited to collaborate with the Maggie Beer Foundation in an Education Hub Partnership.

Virtual training content designed to meet the specific needs of your cooks and chefs, delivered by a Maggie Beer Chef Trainer to up to 20 participants from your kitchens. Contact the foundation training team to book your virtual Education Hub Partnership at

2. Online Learning Modules

14 free Online Learning Modules are available via the Maggie Beer Foundation website. 

Modules are 20–40 minutes long, covering topics from dementia care and dining experience to IDDSI texture-modified education and high-protein snacks. Certification is given with successful completion of each module, as excellent training resources for anyone caring for ageing palates and dietary needs.

With limited industry-specific training available for cooks and chefs in the aged care sector,  Maggie Beer Foundation aims to fill this critical gap in the learning space. It is the foundation’s aim to ensure accessible and relevant training resources are available for anyone focused on improving the food experience for elderly Australians.

In collaboration with dietitians and scientists, we have designed a comprehensive suite of training assets available for individuals, aged care homes or national providers.

These activities are complemented by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s food, nutrition and dining advisory support unit and hotline. The support unit is helping providers improve the quality, variety, and nutrition of meals to people in aged care.

The hotline will give callers access to experts in the areas of food, nutrition and dining, including dietitians and speech pathologists. You can call the hotline on 1800 844 044 with questions, concerns or complaints about food, nutrition or dining in aged care.

Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells, said that food, nutrition and the dining experience have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.

“This (training) is part of our approach to help providers and workers upskill and be better educated so they can prepare and serve more delicious and nutritious food to the older people in their care,”Minister Wells said.

“The free Improving Food in Aged Care through Education and Training program is an important step forward in ensuring all older people in residential aged care have access to nourishing food that they enjoy and improves their wellbeing.”

08 8128 4464


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