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Gordan Ramsey, Rachel Ray, Wolfgang Puck, and Kurt Schroeder. These four people have something in common; they are all talented and passionate culinarians. The first three boast a tremendous amount of fame, while the fourth, Chef Kurt, has a more moderate but loyal following, which is growing exponentially…at least locally. At Friendship Village in Schaumburg, residents, as well as their families and lucky guests, have the opportunity to meet, interact with, and learn from the senior living community’s trending executive chef.
Last week, in front of live, and streamed audiences, Chef Kurt demonstrated how to create delicious and healthy dark chocolate bark for the debut of FORKK TV. This is just the latest initiative of Friendship Village’s innovative and evolving dining services.
The dining experience in senior living is changing and improving faster than you can say, “farm-to-table and made-to-order,” and Friendship Village has been upping its dining game for the past four years. Lisa Reid, general manager of dining services, said that the senior living community is ahead of the curve in terms of meeting and in fact exceeding the high expectations of its current and incoming residents. “They’re increasingly discerning and have strong opinions and don’t want to make sacrifices in their lifestyles as they retire.”
In late 2018, Friendship Village, in its dining services partnership with Morrison Living, unveiled Mosaic, its newest, fine dining venue. Mosaic offers authentic dishes representing the best of regional American and world cuisines “Mosaic has a chef arcade which is on a grander scale than any in the industry. It provides display cooking in a fully functioning space. Everything we serve comes out of that kitchen; it puts all the action in the center of the dining room. The showpiece component is the hearth pizza oven,” said Lisa. “Mosaic offers the residents a unique 360-degree experience as they’re able to watch meal preparation and talk with the chefs. Residents and their guests love this feature!”
The menu at Mosaic, Lisa said, is “comparable if not better than local upscale restaurants” with items including tapenade stuffed mushrooms, fresh catch-of-the-day, Korean short rib tacos and more. Mosaic typically provides 20 different main course options, which are refreshed quarterly. Residents have a great selection from which to choose.
At the same time that Mosaic was launched, the finishing touches were put on the adjoining FORKK, Friendship Village’s state-of-the-art teaching kitchen. FORKK offers cooking classes hosted by Chef Kurt, accompanied by a dietician. “Chef Kurt teaches how to prepare the different items, and a dietician offers an educational component about healthy options,” said Lisa. Classes are offered regularly to residents as well as to marketing prospects. In December, Friendship Village began to broadcast classes throughout Friendship Village on their in-house television station. Residents watched the debut telecast from Friendship Village’s newly renovated Friendship Hall, as well as from their apartments. The residents were served delicious samples of the dark chocolate bark after the show. “Men and women love to come to the classes and have a great time. Everything tastes good, and it’s a lot of fun. They especially loved the bark. Who knew that something as decadent tasting as chocolate could be healthy!” said Lisa. In the not-too-distant future, FORKK will host guest chefs and specialty shows.
Adding to its dining experience options, Friendship Village will be introducing Brewster’s coffee café and Bluestone, a lively pub with small-plate options.
Lisa said that she’s been in the senior living dining industry for 12 years, and during that time has observed and enjoyed the rapid evolution. “It’s drastically different now. We used to do a lot of buffets and steam tables and a single daily special with a side dish. Items were cooked in big batches. Now, residents get countless choices, and everything is cooked to order. This is 100% more fun. We’ve raised the bar of what we provide for our residents. It’s fun, challenging, rewarding, and engaging for us!”
Read about FORKK TV in the Daily Herald.