Go easy on the salt, celebrity chef Peter Russell-Clarke tells Bendigo Hospital

Peter Russell-Clarke sees the hospital as a source of pride for Bendigo, but believes better food could help people achieve better health.
Peter Russell-Clarke sees the hospital as a source of pride for Bendigo, but believes better food could help people achieve better health.

DURING a recent overnight stay at the new Bendigo Hospital, celebrity chef Peter Russell-Clarke was in awe of the world-class facilities and caring staff.

But when his soup arrived, it left an overly salty taste in the mouth.

So much so, he chose to have his own food brought in from outside of the hospital. He also claims he spotted other patients being given food inappropriate for their medical needs.

Now he has decided to offer some advice to Bendigo Health – give as much attention to the food as the medical care.

“You can have skilled medical practitioners, but it’s no good if the food ends up causing problems,” Mr Russell-Clarke said.

“The food seems to follow a fits-all attitude. It should be given as much attention as the medicine.

Peter Russell-Clarke was so concerned about the food at the new Bendigo Hospital that he penned a cartoon about it.

Peter Russell-Clarke was so concerned about the food at the new Bendigo Hospital that he penned a cartoon about it.

“If it means they need more kitchen staff, then so be it.

“They really need to be working with dietitians.”

Mr Russell-Clarke hosted Come and Get It for nine years, Australia’s most popular cooking show of the 1980s.

He also wrote several cookbooks and books about food, with some focusing on the importance of maintaining good heart health.

Now living in central Victoria, he looks upon the $630 million Bendigo Hospital with pride.

“It’s important that the hospital be given credit for it’s professionalism and uniqueness for a regional setting,” Mr Russell-Clarke said.

“It’s unique not just because it’s world standard, but it’s made unique by the people who work there and the care they show to patients.

“They do a remarkable job on the medical side, but the food doesn’t mirror that medical attention.”

A spokesperson for Bendigo Health said the hospital serves tens of thousands of meals every month, carried out by Spotless.

The health service and Spotless did not respond to further requests for comment.

Spotless provided more than 500,000 meals in the hospital’s first 12 months of operation.

Earlier this year, the company said it has 68 food services professionals working at the Bendigo Hospital, taking into account patients’ dietary requirements.