Residents of Calvary The Mariner aged care facility at South West Rocks might be in the middle of another coronavirus-induced lockdown but they're being treated like royalty, thanks to their newest catering manager.
Stephen Evered is a former Executive Chef of Government House. He has rubbed shoulders with royalty on numerous occasions and is now cooking for the "kings and queens" of The Mariner.
Mr Evered looked after three Governor-Generals and their families on a daily basis; cooked for numerous Australian Prime Ministers; and hosted high profile international visitors. These included the Pope, Vladimir Putin, the King and Queen of Spain, the King of Tonga, the Sultan of Brunei, and the President of China.
He would make a great dinner guest himself.
But while he has served many royal family members over the years, he feels he is is now cooking for "the most important people".
"The people I cook for [at The Mariner] have worked hard in the community their whole lives, and it's now our job to look after them and cook things that they can enjoy and they can relate to", he said.
"I do spoil them, because they're precious and they deserve it"- Stephen Evered
Together with his wife Kirrily, he has previously owned and run hospitality venues in South West Rocks; recently selling The Olive Stone café in the town centre.
While he was gearing up for semi-retirement, he says he was drawn to the role at The Mariner because he could continue to serve people in the community and "give back" to the parents and grandparents of those who frequented his cafes.
"It was a huge motivator for me, knowing I'd be serving customers from my past businesses who deserve good food."
"Cheffy" as he's known around town, believes aged care "has had a terrible wrap in the past" and deserves as much compassion as possible. Compassion, he says, "starts in the kitchen".
The not-for-profit organisation is currently in lockdown because COVID-19 cases are on the rise but Mr Evered says he is putting even more devotion into the daily menu to comfort his customers during isolation.
The residents are are nourished with hot meals using fresh and local produce, while also being treated with milkshakes and traditional fruit cake.
"I feel like I'm cooking for sixty of my grandparents, and at the same time I feel like a parent cooking for sixty children, because I'm constantly trying to hide more vegetables into all dishes".
Stephen's 'love language' is food, and he believes "the easiest way to make someone happy is by serving them something tasty".
In his past life, Stephen has cooked for people "who are too polite to say anything if you drop the ball", but at his new place of work, if the residents don't like something "they will tell you in spades", he says joyfully.
"As a career, food pushes you to back yourself. When you cook something you open yourself up to judgement" he said.
His wife's favourite dish is Stephen's version of macaroni and cheese, which she believed would be a hit, however, the feedback Stephen got from four or five residents was "please don't serve that to me again".
Being Catering Manager at The Mariner gives Stephen "a reason to get up in the morning" with sixty people needing him to "serve them something nice, to feel at home, which is what they deserve".
Stephen is thrilled with this new chapter, saying "you get to a point with your career where you've done so much, and you end up just wanting to cook good food for good people".
He plans to stay at The Mariner for as long as they'll have him.
And, promising never to serve up his version of mac and cheese again.
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