Chef must keep entry secret until competition
Karen, who is the director of dining services for all six dining rooms at
Each participant will work on a team of four preparing the three-course meal, consisting of an appetizer, the entrée (which will also consist of side dishes) and a desert.
Karen will personally develop and prepare the group’s desert.
“We were given certain ingredients we’re required to use in the entrée, but not in the desert,” she told me. She also said the only cooking mode that will be available during the competition is a grill. Eight judges will taste each group’s food, so there must be eight servings of everything, she added.
Judges include Leeza Gibbons, media personality and founder of the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation, and author of the book on care giving, “Take your own Oxygen First.” Shannon Miller, Olympic medal-winner in gymnastics and professional golfer Fred Funk will also be judges, as will Jeremy Bloom, Olympic and World champion snow skier and Marcel Davignon, a resident of Brookdale’s Freedom Pointe and a longtime culinary arts specialist who has written books about cooking and designed cooking classes as well as working as a chef.
The competition will feature heart-healthy foods and showcase the importance of nutrition in older adults, said Holly Botsford of Brookdale’s home office in
“To my knowledge no other event like this has ever focused on senior dining experiences,” Holly said. “We know this competition will produce a lot of healthy recipes that can be used in our many communities.”
The groups will compete for two hours in
Food-inspired art created by these competitions across the nation will be auctioned at (Brookdale’s) Ultimate Chef America event when all regions of the country have participated. Proceeds will go to the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation, which elevates national consciousness about care giving and helps those most impacted by chronic illness in their families.
Karen said she is excited about her trip to
After being raised in the
“This is my third and best career,” she said. The now-57-year old moved to
Every day she oversees all the kitchen preparation, teaching everything from basic hygiene to garnishing the plates.
“When you work in a senior living community, it isn’t like in a restaurant, you have to leave your ego at the door,” she told me. “We have to remember we’re working in their homes. We even keep a list of ‘requests’ in each dining room and within 10 days incorporate the requested dish onto our menu and then call the guest who asked for it and let them know it’s available.”
That’s how they got blackened salmon on the menu, and now they serve about 70 orders of it a night, she said.
The people who wait on the tables are so close to their residents they know who likes water with meals, who likes tea, and who likes coffee without asking. They can even preset a lot of the tables, she explained.
The kitchen staff makes everything from scratch, including baked goods, stock and marinades. “We try and make things healthy, but this is an independent living facility, so people have their choice to order what they want to have.”
Brookdale also owns Plaza West Health Care nursing home and Homewood Residence, but they have separate dining rooms, she said.
Residents of Golfview Terrace condominiums, just east of the Plaza’s main building eat at the Plaza, and staff in the Plaza kitchen also prepares the meals for the Plaza Club which is the facility at the front of the Plaza complex that is rented out for club and organization luncheons.
Karen’s team members are Gary Korb from the Carriage Club in Jacksonville; Edward Ramirez of The Atrium in Jacksonville; and Kurt Weber of Bahia Oaks in Sarasota. They also have a liaison keeping team members aware of each other's progress, Scott Bombard of Clairbridge in
Starting in Phoenix, Ariz. In January, events like this have been held across the country. The place and date for the final event have not yet been set. People who wish to see more information about Ultimate Chef America can visit http://www.facebook.com/ultimatechefbrookdale.