Culinary Star

03 September 2022

Shahil Lala

Metlifecare has dished up the recipe for success for newly qualified chef Shahil Lala.

The talented 24-year-old has just completed his cookery apprenticeship and is now whipping up a storm as senior chef de partie at The Poynton’s Zest Café, one of the retirement village’s three bars and eateries.

Zest is an a la carte restaurant with a regularly changing menu, so I’ve learnt a lot and there have been lots of opportunities for creativity,” says Shahil.

Nutritionally balanced, dietician-approved meals are de rigueur in Shahil’s kitchen - but that certainly doesn’t mean bland and boring.

“Being a younger chef, I’m always looking at trends on social media and bringing those ideas into the village. I think residents enjoy experiencing my modern take on things, such as putting a fresh twist on an old traditional favourite like lamb shanks.”

His desserts are also a hot favourite.

“I created an orange and cardamom crème brulee for my final assessment and it got such positive feedback that now it’s on the menu!”

Cooking is in Shahil’s DNA, and after thriving in Food Tech at high school, snapping up a cookery apprenticeship seemed like a natural progression.

“When I was a kid, mum and I were always experimenting with new flavours and I used to bake with dad. I started off just licking the spoon and it grew from there. I’ve recently found out that my maternal great grandfather was a chef and my paternal granddad was a wedding caterer, so it must be in the blood. It’s nice to be following in their footsteps.”

And while some young chefs might choose to cut their teeth in the latest trendy restaurant, for Shahil completing his apprenticeship at Metlifecare has been a rich and rewarding experience.

“Cooking is my happy place, and getting paid to learn has been amazing. The restaurant is a huge part of village life - it’s a meeting place for friends and family and a space for residents to socialise. It’s nice knowing that by cooking delicious food, I’m enhancing people’s lives.”

And as he points out, the sense of satisfaction is mutual.

“I get to chat with the residents a lot. I think it’s nice for them to know who’s cooking their food - and besides, they’ve got lots of really cool stories!”

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