Published On: 26 April 2024Categories: Stories

Loaves and Fishes kitchen manager Alanna Hodgetts is an outstanding performer in a demanding industry, despite battling a debilitating medical condition.

Alanna, who became head chef at the House of Anvers in Latrobe at 23, suffers from daily migraines as a result of benign intracranial hypertension, a painful condition she has endured all her life. The condition has no known cause and mainly presents in women aged from 20 to 30.

“I became more aware of the condition in high school as a result of migraines, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision and light sensitivity,” she said.

“I had my eyes checked at 18 which led to a shunt being inserted to relieve the pressure which has to be changed every five to ten years.

Alanna, 25, who has always had a passion for cooking, joined the Loaves and Fishes team in September last year as Devonport kitchen manager after an 11-year career with Anvers during which she completed her Cert III in Commercial Cookery, her training as a pastry chef, and was awarded North West apprentice of the year.

She joined Loaves and Fishes because of the organisation’s mission to deliver food and hope to vulnerable Tasmanians, but also for health and lifestyle reasons.

“The role at Anvers was very demanding,” she said.

“Very long days were not uncommon.

“This kitchen is much calmer than a regular restaurant kitchen.

“We are making bulk meals rather than many individual orders, so there is nowhere near as much prep, and you know exactly how much to make, so there is little to no waste.”

The Devonport kitchen produces 7500 meals each week during the school term for 30 schools involved in the school lunch pilot, as well as meals for around 60 people each week for local mobile food and laundry charity, Gran’s Van.

Outside of school terms, the kitchen also produces hundreds of ready-to-eat meals given to local charities, neighbourhood houses and churches for distribution to those in need.

Devonport kitchen manager, Alanna Hodgetts with volunteer Sharon Banfield.

“I love the job, and working for Loaves and Fishes,” Alanna said.

“It’s much more satisfying making food for those who need it, rather than those who can afford it.”

Alanna said it was humbling to go out with Gran’s Van and meet some of the people who relied on the meals she made.

“I was shocked at the scale of homelessness and need in our local community.

“They are much more obvious in places like Sydney and Melbourne, whereas the need is much more hidden here, yet still so real.

Alanna has been keen to share her love of cakes and pastries with the staff and food recipients, introducing more sweet treats on the menu.

Loaves and Fishes general manager Aaron Kropf said the combination of Alanna’s cooking and management skills had made her a welcomed and valued member of the team.

“She gets the job done professionally and skilfully and has quickly earned the respect of the staff for her easy manner and high standards.

“She works with no direct supervision and so has to be very organised and methodical, which she is.”

By Paul O’Rourke

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