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2023 HLAC Hero Spotlight: Meet Sanath Wanniarachchi

Sanath Wanniarachchi - Head Chef - Villa Maria Catholic Homes


For more than 30 years, Sanath has had a passion for delivering exceptional service and cuisine. This reason along with many more, are why Sanath's colleagues at Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) nominated him for a 2023 Hospitality and Lifestyle Aged Care (HLAC) Hero Award.


The moment I heard the news of being awarded the Hospitality & Lifestyle Aged Care Hero Award for 2023 was nothing short of exhilarating. This recognition, which followed a nomination, has brought immense joy and a sense of fulfilment.

Sanath joined VMCH in 2015, following a career in coveted positions in some of the world’s most luxurious hotels and casinos. Now in his role as Head Chef, Residential Aged Care, Sanath oversees menus across all 13 VMCH residences.

Food is such an important part of aged care and residents should have access to the best quality food available.

Sanath is passionate about inspiring his team to concentrate on presentation, along with nutrition, to maximise residents’ dining experience.


“It is a very rewarding job,” Sanath says. “Food is such an important part of aged care and residents should have access to the best quality food available. Along with a focus on meeting their dietary requirements, we're also working on improving the texture, flavour and appearance of the meals to appeal to their appetites and make it more interesting.”


With genuine care for residents and enthusiasm to make a great dining experience in aged care, Sanath has implemented a number of programs that have had a positive impact.


Left: VMCH General Manager of Hospitality, Sally Bliesner, Centre: VMCH, Head Chef Manager, Sanath Wanniarachchi, Right: SoupedUp Marketing & Communications Manager, Alycia Johnson

Sanath has led his fellow chef managers in introducing new seasonal, dietitian-approved menus, including various cuisines and traditional cooking techniques. Attractive menu books with images are also popular, giving residents a visual representation of what to expect of their meal. Alternative menus ensure residents have more choice and options.

Alongside his fellow chef managers, Sanath has also helped oversee the introduction of a new "Chop n Chat" group at each VMCH aged care home, encouraging residents to join chefs in the kitchen and prepare food together while they socialise.


On being named a 2023 HLAC Hero, Sanath says is a privilege that carries profound meaning in his life.

I genuinely believe that my contributions, heartfelt dedication, and leadership during challenging times have made a significant impact in the aged care environment. This award, presented to me at this remarkable point in my life, signifies that my sacrifices and commitment have been recognized and appreciated. Above all, it validates the trust that my team has placed in my work ethics.

The Hospitality and Lifestyle Aged Care (HLAC) Awards, a program run by SoupedUp, recognises and rewards outstanding team members across catering, cleaning, laundry, and lifestyle services within aged care homes.


The unique program is designed specifically for hospitality and lifestyle staff, in an aim to award and acknowledge the roles and professions that often fly under the radar in aged care.


More information on the 2024 Hospitality and Lifestyle Aged Care (HLAC) Awards will be announced soon.

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