People with disability are now serving up cafe meals and coffee to residents of a dementia care village in Horsley, their loved ones, and the wider community under a partnership that represents an Australian first.
The Disability Trust's Plant Room cafe this month opened its doors at the site of HammondCare Horsley in Shone Avenue.
The cafe will be staffed by two supported employees and two other workers at any one time, with chef Lorenzo Pagnan - of the former Wollongong eateries Ristorante Due Mezzi, Sweet Lips and the Cheeky Fig - overseeing training and food preparation.
One of the supported workers, Isabella, wants to advance her training in hospitality with a view to one day working in open employment (the mainstream workforce).
"I always loved cooking and wanted to build on my confidence as I have always been quite shy," Isabella said.
Mr Pagnan said supported employees would learn how to work in a fully operational kitchen with commercial equipment, preparing food to order.
"It's not a case of taking the lid off something and zap in the microwave for 30 seconds," he said.
HammondCare chief executive officer Mike Baird said offering the cafe at the Horsley care village was an important way for the organisation to connect the aged care home with the community.
The Plant Room at Horsley is the second cafe; the first is in Edney Lane, Spring Hill.
The Disability Trust's CEO Carol Berry said the Plant Room's philosophy was to "create a more inclusive world through employees and customers alike having a fantastic experience".
"Our goal with this venture is to develop the skills and experience of our supported employees so they can pursue open employment in the hospitality industry, should they choose to do so, and to maximise the chances of that transition being a great experience for them and their future employers," Ms Berry said.
The Plant Room is open from Monday to Saturday, 8am to 2.30pm.
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