Kitchen dining is all the rage in top restaurants, with people waiting months to secure a seat where they can watch chefs work their magic. At Asbury Methodist Village, residents enjoy the same experience at Chef’s Table – a program that allows professional chefs to showcase their talents and takes diners inside those swinging doors.
Residents are served in the community’s largest kitchen on tables that sport all the trappings of Asbury’s formal dining venues but provide a ringside view of the preparations.
On this night, the five-course, Asian-themed meal began with a rock shrimp ‘lollipop’ and included a shitake-crusted halibut fillet for the fish course, plum sake glazed beef short rib for the meat course and ended with green tea poached pear with dragon fruit lassi.
“We like to do dishes that are a bit outside the box,” said Chef Reginald Purdie. “People think that because this is a retirement community, the food is lacking in taste and variety. That’s not the case. But we can really go the extra step with this event.”
Past menus prove that statement: white bean tomato and spinach cassoulet with braised pork belly; lemon-crusted Arctic char; cabernet-braised boneless veal shank with Israeli couscous, carrot syrup and veal demi-glace.
Diners names are drawn from boxes placed around the community – and include residents from all neighborhoods of the campus, including assisted living and health care. Other guests include Asbury associates, who enjoy the opportunity to spend time with residents on purely social level.
Barbara Harbison was a resident of Asbury for just one month when her name was drawn. Another couple who have lived at Asbury for four years were attending for their second time.
“I feel really lucky to have had this experience so soon,” Barbara said. “I couldn’t pick a favorite course; they were all delicious. And I loved seeing what goes into the making and plating the food.”
Sodexo Senior Living, who manages dining services for Asbury, rolled out Chef’s Table two years ago with that idea in mind. “We wanted to give diners an insider’s view and introduce them to the people who actually make the food,” said Chef Reginald. “Residents really enjoy getting to know the dining servers. This gives them a chance to meet everyone who is part of the process.”