As the story appears in Chicago Tribune Prime Time, May 16, 2021.

Glorious Food: Senior Living Community Stirring Things Up

Televised cooking shows offer the perfect blend of ingredients to capture our attention, our hearts, and ultimately our stomachs. So their immense popularity is not a surprise. Options for viewing programming are increasing exponentially via network TV, streaming, YouTube, and cable, with some channels devoted entirely to culinary arts.

Eager to satisfy the palate for their own current and future residents, senior living communities have hopped on the craze as they offer their own forms of food demonstrations, showcasing their increasingly sophisticated fine dining.

Culinary demos

Lexington Square Elmhurst has launched an in-person program on-site for its residents. The Chef’s Table, which is led monthly by Chef Alan Bloom, includes not only a demonstration but also the opportunity for residents to follow and participate right along.

The first Chef’s Table featured Bloom creating a puff pastry with chicken, apples and brie cheese, with an egg wash. “The residents had plates with all the ingredients, which they assembled along with me. We all chatted while the items baked,” says Bloom. “It was extremely popular. More than three dozen people participated. They love to do this type of thing.”

Residents of Lexington Square Lombard and Elmhurst senior living communities are further experiencing an exceptional culinary delight — seasonal food preparation demos. Launched during the winter holidays, it was so well received that the experience will be replicated seasonally and will be also be utilized as a marketing initiative.

Showcasing the retirement communities’ partnership with HHS Hospitality Services, Lexington’s seasonal food demo was comparable to popular shows on the Food Network. The inaugural event was a three-course meal featuring butternut squash soup with herb oil, roasted rack of lamb, glazed carrots and Brussels sprouts, and red-wine poached pear. While mouthwatering to watch, the event was better still, as the same delectable fare prepared on camera had been delivered to the residents’ apartments

ahead of time. Thus, they had the opportunity to enjoy viewing and dining simultaneously.

“We are proud of how our partnership is the main ingredient in our fine dining services. Our communities’ restaurants consistently offer choices of dishes, including roasted prime rib, baked tilapia, chicken cordon bleu, as well as comfort foods including hamburgers, pizza, mac and cheese and more,” says Dan Harrington, vice president of senior living. “We try hard to present our residents with special treats and extra attention whenever we’re able. This exciting event not only engages them but also feeds them.”

The dinner and the presentation earned rave reviews. “Great dining is so important in senior living. We look forward to showing off what we have to offer over the coming year,” says Harrington. “Spring and summer demos are likely to include lighter fare, a lot of farm-to-table produce, and a foray into some special ethnic and heritage cuisines. Our dinners will be creative and delicious. Our residents are very excited.”

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