Residents at Altamont Care Community (Sienna) participate in cake challenge and get the opportunity to reinvent their home's dessert menu


The halls erupted with whoops and shouts.

“The residents were cheering for us almost before they even found out why we were cheering,” said Christine Ramdeo, director of dietary services at Altamont Care Community. “There was loud cheering up and down the hallways.”

Altamont Care Community in West Hill won the Sienna Cake Challenge, earning themselves a desert catered by Sara Lee. The cake competition challenged care communities to design a cake. Although submissions had to use Sara Lee pound or sponge cake, they all vary greatly. Everything from pumpkin-pie trifle to banana-split cake made an appearance, and all submissions will be available on the new menu.

“I think it was such a great idea to get everybody involved,” Christine said. “Residents knew this was happening, the program staff were really involved with it ― even staff in the building kept asking when the competition was, and when I came back everybody was congratulating us.”

The cake challenge was inspired by a desire to freshen-up the desert menu. Christeen Read, Dietary and Environmental Operations Partner & Menu Analyst at Sienna, said that while all of their desert options are tasty, they wanted more options, and they wanted to somehow involve residents in the process.

“Vanilla-swirl cake is awesome,” Christeen Read said, but she wanted to put newer options on the menu, and she got her wish. While the new submissions include familiar favourites, such as carrot cake and apple crumble, there’s also a caramel brownie with a pretzel crust that Christine from Altamont is excited to hear residents’ opinions on.

“I’m sure residents will like it, I mean it’s a sweet and salty combination, who wouldn’t?” Christine from Altamont said. “But it’ll be interesting to hear what they think.”
An image of a trifle cake with fruit and cream

“We also want to develop recipes that are Sienna specific, recipes that have come from our community,” Christeen Read said. Doing the challenge, rather than simply adding to the menu, gave residents a real say in the deserts on their menu.

Altamont’s submission was their Dream Cake Trifle, and it lives up to its name, being wildly colourful and as much a treat for the eyes as for the stomach. Altamont, like many homes in the competition, had an internal judging prior to submitting a recipe, giving residents a chance to vote on which cake they’d like on the menu. The home’s final submission then competed against other homes. Residents and staff came together to choose 7 regional winners, and then, finally, a single winner was chosen.

“It was just like a really fun experience and we can’t even believe that, out of all the homes in Sienna we won, and I think that’s so gratifying,” Christine said. “So I think that was really great, and brought really great moral to everybody.”
 
While the competition was fun, and brought everyone together, the residents are now setting their sights on the upcoming party.

“They’re really excited about it,” Christine said. “Desserts, hands down you’ve got everyone’s attention.”

There are plans for more recipe competitions in the future, though specifics have yet to be released, Christine is excited to get started.

“Oh I think it’s exciting. It really brings everybody together, and it gets everybody excited, and a little competition is always fun,” she said.