Our McKenzie People: Beth, Chef Manager
Beth had spent years working in hospitality and travelled abroad, “job-hopping” between different employers. Eventually, she felt disillusioned with the hospitality industry.
“I was working every weekend, most nights or double shifts …” she says. “All my friends and loved ones were living these fabulous lives while I was slogging it out in a kitchen, missing out on life itself, and feeling very empty inside.”
During a period of reflection, Beth realised the limited time she’d worked in the youth and community sector had felt very rewarding, and she decided to return to study.
“Aged care was a happy accident,” Beth says. She’d been applying for part-time roles to support her studies, but was offered a dream opportunity: a sous chef role in aged care.
“It was a full-time position, working Tuesday to Saturday, finishing at 2pm on Saturdays. I had finally won my weekend back!”
After accepting the role, it didn’t take long for Beth to realise that the job satisfaction she’d aimed to obtain through studying was being met in her new role. “The joy of providing nourishment for the body and soul came very quickly to me. I fell in love with my role, and with each of the residents I served.”
There are, of course, challenging moments, such as complaints from residents’ families. Beth says people don’t always realise the amount of care that occurs in aged care facilities, the “millions of small moments of love that happen every day … Often the most important moments are the smallest of kindnesses: noticing a resident’s blanket has slipped, or knowing a particular meal is a resident’s favourite, and offering them a larger portion.”
Her compassion, and appreciation for her work and the people she works with, is evident. On a personal note, working in aged care reminded Beth of her grandmother. “I made it my personal mission to make sure that everything I put on the table would make her proud,” she says.
This work allowed Beth to combine her community values with the joy of food and cooking. And like Megan, she finds the work-life balance of aged care to be a huge benefit. “It is a very worthy career path,” she says. “You’ll be surrounded by fellow empaths and team players, full of compassion and love for their fellow human beings.”
*This article was written in partnership with Seek and reprinted, with thanks, from The Guardian – 16 May 2022