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The OSCARS Recognition of Excellence: David Martin

OSCAR Care Group industry award winner David Martin

OSCAR Care Group is delighted to introduce Chef David Martin from Japara The Regent, recipient of The OSCARS Recognition of Excellence program.

We recognise David’s fantastic dedication to the pursuit of perfection in creating memorable meals that appeal to all 5 senses for his residents at Japara’s The Regent facility in Mount Waverley.

According to David, “For too long, people have held the long prevailing view that food in Aged Care is bland and uninspiring. For a significant part of my career, I have dared to challenge this view.”

David works tirelessly to:

  • Encourage people to rethink what food in Aged Care might look like

  • Demonstrate how innovation, passion, creativity and commitment to a cause can change this prevailing view

  • Improve the quality of life & experience of his residents

David trained in bistro & fine dining restaurants, and graduated in the top 3 of his William Angliss Institute of Hospitality Class. He made his national television cooking debut on Dippers Backyard Barbecue Wars on Channel 7Mate, where he scored Ten out of Ten!

David’s Inspirations

David shares, “I am truly blessed to have an Amazing Team at The Regent. Maura George (Regional Hospitality Manager) and Liz De Abreu (Home Manager) believe in my food and leadership, and truly would like to see me innovate further at The Regent in the future. I want my home to set the bar for Aged Care food!”

David Martin and team

David’s cultural background has played a significant impact on his menu and food at The Regent. “I grew up with an incredibly talented cook as a mother. I ate Filipino food, and also had the great fortune of growing up in one of Melbourne’s melting pot suburbs. As a result, I was exposed to many different cuisines together with the food from my own ethnic background. I draw on these experiences in order to design and innovate with my menu at my home.”

David’s father inspired his pursuit of excellence in cooking. “My father always said if you love what you do, you must put all your heart and soul into that endeavour and to devote yourself to your craft. I have tried to live by that my whole career. Hard work to me means taking daily consistent steps to improve my craft in the pursuit of my passion.”

David’s Tips on Improving Meal Experiences in Aged Care

David believes that it is hard work, but it is incredibly rewarding to know that he makes a positive and meaningful impact on the life of older Australians.

He often tries to do things that have never been seen in aged care before that are on par with food trends. “I like to innovate, create and design new food and processes. From 1.5m chocolate fountains and themed food experiences to wood fire pizza lunches cooked fresh onsite.”

David manages difficult dietary requirements and allergies by speaking to and getting to know his residents and their next of kin and by also having a close working relationship with their care team. “This helps me to provide the best dietary outcome for our residents.”

To improve care and help with dietary needs David keeps on top of all of the dietitian and speech pathologist’s notes. When a new resident arrives, he makes an effort to speak to them to gauge their meal expectations moving forward.


David’s Award-Winning Savoury Recipe: Twice-cooked Apple Smoked Pork Belly with Chilli Caramel Jam & Green Apple Slaw Salad

Twice-cooked Apple Smoked Pork Belly with Chilli Caramel Jam & Green Apple Slaw Salad


Pork belly

1kg piece pork belly, boneless

1L water

200ml light soy sauce

100ml sweet soy sauce

7 whole star anise

300g rice starch

10g five-spice powder

1tsp salt

1.5L vegetable oil for deep frying

Black vinegar to serve

Chilli caramel jam

700g castor sugar

300ml water

2 small red chillies, chopped

15 whole star anise

150ml fish sauce

Apple slaw

100g finely shredded wombok

50g coriander micro

2g Vietnamese mint leaves

2g shiso leaves, finely sliced

30g micro mint

1 small green apple


30ml lime juice

20ml fish sauce

1 tbsp castor sugar

Preparation Time: 1 hr

Cooking Time: 4hrs


Prepare pork belly

  • Preheat the smoker to 275C.

  • In a baking tray pour in the water, both soy sauces and the star anise. Place the pork belly into the tray, cover with baking paper then cover the tray with foil.

  • Place the tray into the oven and cook for around 6 hours, cheking occasionally to make sure that the liquid doesn’t reduce too much. Add a little more water if required.

  • Pour off the liquid (set aside for later use) and refrigerate the pork until completely cold, overnight if possible.

Chilli caramel sauce

  • Combine the sugar & water in a large saucepan. Place on to the heat & bring to the boil without stirring. Brush the sides of the saucepan occasionally with a wet pastry brush to stop crystals from forming. Add the chilli and star anise then continue to boil until the syrup turns a light tan colour.

  • Add the fish sauce. To avoid spattering you, turn heat down to a simmer and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Strain and set aside for later.

Apple Slaw

  • Place all the ingredients apart from the apple into a bowl and set aside for later use.


  • Place all the ingredients into a small bowl, mix together thoroughly and set aside.

To serve

  • Cut the pork into squares around 90g each, place in a bowl and pour in around 100ml of the reserved cooking liquid. Stir to coat.

  • Combine the tapioca starch, five-spice powder and salt in a large bowl and mix together thoroughly.

  • Place the pork pieces into the starch and stir to coat them thoroughly. Remove the pork from the starch, shaking off any excess, and set aside on a tray for around 30 minutes to help the starch mix stick to the pork.

  • Heat the oil in a wok to about 170C, which should start to colour almost immediately and float to the top.

  • Cook the pork in two batches, being careful not to overcrowd the wok. Cook the pieces for around 5 minutes, or until the outside is crisp and golden.

  • Place the pork into a serving bowl then pour over the chilli caramel. Cut the apple into matchsticks, add to the slaw and pour over the dressing, stirring to coat. Place the slaw on top of the pork.


David Martin, You’re AMAZING!


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