Chosen from more than 430 chefs within Brookdale Senior Living communities across the nation, Chef Elisabeth Archer of Grand Court Tavares, a Brookdale Senior Living assisted living community in Florida, has been awarded the much sought-after and coveted culinary award of 2010, Ultimate Chef America.
Throughout 2010, the culinary professionals of Brookdale Senior Living, a leading owner and operator of senior living communities throughout the United States, put on a year-long series of first-class cooking competitions nationwide from Phoenix to Jacksonville with stops along the way in Dallas,Denver, Detroit and Atlanta. At each event, two teams of senior living chefs had two hours to produce four courses with the theme of healthy cooking, using only a grill.
Dishes prepared by the chefs were judged on-site by a panel of five celebrity judges headed by Leeza Gibbons and a Brookdale resident with a culinary background. The teams won awards for taste, creativity and presentation. In addition, each individual chef was awarded points on his or her dish, with the chef earning the highest points awarded the biggest honor of the year, the Ultimate Chef America title.
Archer was born and raised in Nuremberg, Germany, and educated in nutrition and child development. She moved to the United States and worked as a cook at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. She has worked in various roles in hospitals and skilled nursing centers, and joined Brookdale Senior Living as the dining room manager at Grand Court Tavares in 2009. Here, she enjoys making a difference daily in the lives of the residents she serves.
Each event showcased the talents of Brookdale’s professional chefs, who created dishes that were not only flavorful and unique, but were made especially for less sensitive senior palates. Chef Archer’s winning dish was a dessert, a triple berry tiramisu.
"Cooking for seniors requires special training and expertise because the sensitivity of taste buds and palates change with age, so the flavors have to be bolder and richer and the textures of foods need to be more ‘senior friendly’ as well," said Joska Hajdu, Brookdale’s senior vice president of Dining Services and an executive chef by trade. "That’s one reason why the participating chefs and their creations are special; they are created with passion and an intensity that surpasses food served in other venues."
"The Ultimate Chef America creations revealed the level of sophistication of the competing chefs, as well as providing insights into the meals they are capable of preparing for their residents," said Hajdu. "Each dish prepared revealed a depth of flavor, richness and textures, with culinary presentations on a scale that far exceeded expectations."
In addition, winners from each of the six events nationwide have been announced. They are:
- Phoenix: Jeffery Amperse, director of Dining Services for Brookdale Place of Paradise Valley inArizona.
- Dallas: William Anchondo, director of Dining Services for Town Village North Dallas.
- Denver: Ben Donovan, director of Dining Services for Heritage Club Denver.
- Detroit: Richard Lamoureux, Dining Services coordinator of Wynwood Northville in Michigan.
- Atlanta: Joe Carey, director of Dining Services for Carriage Club Charlotte.
- Jacksonville, Fla.: Elisabeth Archer, director of Dining Services for Grand Court Tavares in Florida.
Ultimate Chef America, however, was much more than a professional cooking competition. Each event was a celebration of great food and life fulfillment. In each of the six locations, residents and guests were in the audience for live talk shows with celebrity judges and senior health and culinary experts that were streamed over the Internet and broadcast to other Brookdale communities. The competition also featured seminars on food, wine and seasonings, presented by experts on each topic. There were also guided tours of the host community; a silent auction benefiting the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and its signature program Leeza’s Place, "A Place for Caregivers," a community gathering place and resource center for family caregivers impacted by chronic or progressive illness; and a business expo highlighting the event’s sponsors, including Nestle Vitality, Nestle Professional, Advanced Foods, Walgreens, Tyson Foods, Royal Cup, Fidelity Print, Ecolab, SCA and Entegra.
The six events have welcomed, entertained and served almost 5,000 guests. The silent auctions conducted at the events have raised more than $100,000 to support the work of the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and $16,000 to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
"Ultimate Chef America also gave our residents and those considering a move to a Brookdale community a first-hand experience with our concept for living, Optimum Life," said Sara Terry, vice president of Optimum Life for Brookdale Senior Living.
A way of life offered exclusively by Brookdale Senior Living at its communities, Optimum Life®, focuses on six key dimensions – emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual and purposeful.
"Ultimate Chef America has been a successful event for Brookdale and its communities, for its residents, associates and guests and for the worthy causes that we have supported through this program," said Hajdu. "The formidable skills of our associates and the selfless dedication to serving others that they bring to their residents every day has been highlighted and rewarded."