Alby Powerlett is almost 90, likes “good tucker” and, to his own mild surprise, has developed an appetite for learning how to cook for the first time.

It’s simple, really, he says of his new enthusiasm for the kitchen: “I don’t want to eat rubbish tucker.”

“I’m only really a pepper-and-salt man … so it’s educating me,” he said.

Mr Powerlett is among men taking part in a pilot program that teaches participants how to take care of themselves.

They learn about cooking, nutrition and exercise.

Care provider Home Instead is trialling the pilot program at the Maroochydore Men’s Shed on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

A man and a woman cooking in a commercial kitchen

Each session revolves around a topic such as eggs, chicken or mince and the different ways that food can be used.(

ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew


Mr Powerlett, a father of 10, married again after the death of his first wife but lives on his own.

“My wife lives in Bli Bli and I live in Buderim, so it works out beaut,” he said.

“There’s a lot of blokes on the coast here that are on their own.”

Home Instead director Falon Fredrickson said the initiative was born out of a desire to combat social isolation, “a real issue for a lot of our clients, especially as we age”. 

Woman with dark hair and corporate dress sits in a commercial kitchen

Ms Fredrickson says if there was interest, the program could roll out to Men’s Sheds nationally.(

ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew


“We wanted to really look for something that was going to bring people together, but also really highlight healthy ageing and healthy eating,” he said.

As well as learning how to prepare meals, a dietician educates the men about healthy eating and nutrition so they can better look after themselves at home.

“What we hope to do is get the people who are participating in the sessions to bring recipes along with them and have them really involved in that cooking process.

“So it’s not just teaching them how to cook recipes that are simple, but also things that they love that they maybe are scared of doing at home.”

A plate of green beans and red tomatoes

Nutritional education with sessions from a dietician is a key component of the program.(

ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew


She said the pilot has been “excellent” and would continue at the Maroochydore Men’s Shed for 12 months, with the possibility of expanding through the region and nationally.

‘Basic’ sessions win men over

Anne Degaris runs the cooking demonstrations and supplies the men with recipes at the end of the session.

“A lot of them have just lost their wives and their wives did most of the cooking, so they’re really at a loss.” she said.

A woman stands over a stove cooking

Anne Degaris says after just two sessions the men are starting to feel empowered and confident in the kitchen.(

ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew


“The last time we did eggs and I showed them how to do frittatas with eggs and milk and whatever’s in the fridge.

This time was chicken, next time I’ll be tackling mince.”

Colin Henson, 69, has lived on his own for seven years and proudly attempted the frittata at home.

Man in a green shirt standing in front of tables of men having smoko in a men's shed, smiling kindly

Mr Henson is excited to learn how to cook uncomplicated meals.(

ABC Sunshine Coast: Ollie Wykeham


“I just live on my own and was looking for some more healthy options.

“I’m a very basic eater but I do like to eat nice food. Something different and easy to cook.”

President of the Maroochydore Men’s Shed Graeme Giles, 76, is still proudly married and keen to learn how he can bring more to the table.

“Though I hope I have supported my wife quite well over the years in preparing meals.

“Now it will add to my limited amount of skills on cooking that I have got and I hope to build on them over the coming 12 months or so.”

A hand holds up a piece of chicken dipped in egg

Cooking skills start at the basics with crumbing meat, mashing potato and how to use seasoning. (

ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew


Mr Giles said cookbooks were too complicated but learning from the non-judgmental Men’s Shed cooking sessions was “pretty good”.

“And if you come to a Men’s Shed … you’ll feel 10 years younger anyway because you’ve got a different outlook on life after enjoying camaraderie around the shed and learning a few other skills as well,” he said.

three men serving food onto their plate in a commercial kitchen

It’s hoped that by learning basic kitchen skills in a supportive environment, the men will be able to cook tastier, nutritious meals at home.(

ABC Sunshine Coast: Kylie Bartholomew


‘Good tucker’: Men’s Shed cooks up healthy living tips for blokes on their own
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