Professional chefs can whet residents’ appetites at elder care communities

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Professional chefs can whet residents’ appetites at elder care communities

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Many assisted living and memory care communities have been reaping benefits after hiring professional chefs for their residents.

Preparing the right meals for the residents is no easy task, with challenges including the many special meals required due to widely varying dietary restrictions. Professional chefs know how to plan complex meals based on specific needs and efficiently juggle multiple menus tailored to specific requirements.

Another challenge in feeding the older population is flavor appeal. The loss of taste buds is common in old age, and food is a crucial part of life satisfaction. A professional chef can maximize flavor while creating meals from fresh ingredients that are not only packed with nutrients but are also satisfying. They can also change up meals regularly so no one gets bored, and they can reduce waste of food.

Harrison on 5th by Senior Star in Columbus is one such community. Executive Director Niniana Oehler explained, “From breakfast in the morning to dinner in the evening, food tends shape our day. What we eat can change our moods, awaken long-forgotten memories and create a sort of magic beyond its plain nutritional value. It is this magic that we are working to cultivate here at Harrison on 5th.

“Having an experienced, beyond-talented leader like chef Darryl Palmer allows us to create magic in our kitchen for everyone to see, smell and taste,” Oehler added. “Darryl is not only amazing at what he creates in the kitchen, but also an outstanding leader who loves to share his gift with others. This allows us to showcase his skills regularly and show the community around us that senior living food does not have to be boring, unappealing and lacking flavor – it can be magical.”

The types of food served at Harrison on 5th run the gamut from comfort food to more modern dishes.

“The food and beverage department is committed to providing classic favorites with a modern twist,” said Palmer, who is the community’s food and beverage director. “We also prepare new food trends to help expand the palates of the residents while showing them new and exciting food and beverages. Our residents have lived a vast life of travel, family and fun. Food has always been a part of those journeys, and we like to keep those thoughts and ideas alive and thriving. We do that while presenting old classics with new takes.”
Palmer said he offers selections like classic chicken salad featuring monthly super foods such as blueberries, strawberries and pomegranate, alongside classics such as meatloaf, pot roast and herb-roasted chicken.

“We add seasonings and spice blends that are not only tasty but also good for you including anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and immune-boosting spices such as turmeric, ginger and an assortment of fresh herbs,” he added. “As far as food trends, we like to feature and sample tastings of favorite snacks and drinks from around the globe. This helps keep our residents young at heart while showing them new and exciting things their children and grandchildren are experiencing and sharing via social media and their travels.”

Residents are encouraged to invite guests for dinner so they can enjoy themselves with family and friends, and build connections and bonds over this universal language.
“A professional chef truly contributes to our fine dining experience on a whole other level,” Oehler said. “Darryl’s expertise and knowledge have enriched our dining so very much. He is skilled in all cooking techniques and truly has the repertoire to create something unique and wonderful for our residents every single day. We want our residents to use all their senses, and taste is by far one of the strongest. It’s crucial that we offer a diverse menu while offering many of the foods and beverages our residents loved while growing up. Food has a way of sparking memories and different chapters in life like nothing else.”

Columbus Jewish News – Lisa Matkowsky – Posted Jun 12, 2023 at 2: 00 PM
Lisa Matkowsky is a freelance journalist.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash