Retirement community cuisine goes upscale to mirror today's dining trends
Today's retirees are looking for a taste of the good life, in more ways than one. With the baby boomer generation coming of age, a lot of "senior foodies" are migrating their tastes along with their furniture when they move to retirement communities. Whether based on traditions from their own kitchens, or favorite dishes at restaurants around the world, this generation is demanding inventive, quality cuisine as part of their second-half-of-life experience.
Upscale retirement communities are responding with a new-generation range of culinary offerings, inventive chefs and unique dining experiences to reinvent retirement cuisine.
On the forefront of this permanent trend is Atlantic Shores Retirement Community - - a 100-acre cooperative in Virginia Beach, Virginia, which emphasizes cuisine for its 650 residents and their guests. With three dining outlets, 25 trained chefs, and a staff of 100 food and beverage professionals that create high-quality dishes for daily meals and on-site catered events, culinary trends in the restaurant world are mirrored at Atlantic Shores.
Just like fine dining restaurants, Atlantic Shores is known for their specialty dishes, including: Lobster and Tarragon Bisque with Aged Sherry Foam; Boursin-Crusted Filet Mignon with Fire Roasted Prawns and Andoulle; Honey Lacquered Salmon with Asian Citrus Slaw and Wasabi-scented Rice; and Braised Duck Breast with Fresh Asparagus and Candied Sweet Potato in a Kirshwasser/Cherry Reduction.
Pride is taken in using superior, locally sourced ingredients, including vegetables and herbs harvested from Atlantic Shores' own gardens. Care is also taken in creating daily and specialty menus, chef's specials, and offering a selection of fine international wines paired with select entrees. Low-gluten, sugar-free and vegetarian items are offered for all types of dietary needs and tastes. Even heart healthy dishes take on a delicious spin, with entrees like Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans, Quinoa Risotto with Arugula and Parmesan, and Chicken Cutlets with Grape-Shallot Sauce.
In addition to dining room service, meals are also prepared for take-out and in-room delivery. And just like "regulars" at a restaurant, staff members know residents by name and know their favorite menu selections and cocktails, whether at mealtime or happy hour. Residents are also treated to seasonal Chef's Table events, with wines paired for each course by a Sommelier.
Unlike a restaurant, culinary offerings at Atlantic Shores go above and beyond to accommodate individual needs based on health conditions and medicines. Two of Atlantic Shores' dining outlets have strict nutritional guidelines, and also offer specialty therapeutic entrees.
Think celebrity chefs only prepare for famous clients? With a following of loyal fans, numerous culinary awards, guest appearances on a local NBC-TV lifestyle show, and invitations to serve as a judge in regional cuisine competitions, Atlantic Shores Executive Chef Eric Doarnberger has chosen to leave the world of upscale restaurants and flagship resorts to express his creativity daily for Atlantic Shores' foodie community.
Working alongside Food and Beverage Director Richie Cuocco, this powerhouse pair is given the freedom to lead their in-house culinary team without restriction, as food services at Atlantic Shores aren't contracted by an outside food management company as many other retirement communities are - - even offering such extras to residents as private chef services.
According to Eric, "Richie and I share the same passion for great food, and for pushing the boundaries of traditional retirement dining in a new direction. We also have a competitive edge with each other that keeps us thinking creatively, and pushes us and our team to exceed our resident's expectations."
The true test of their nouveau-senior cuisine is putting it up in competition against acclaimed regional restaurants, and winning - - earning Atlantic Shores the reputation of culinary leader in their industry and region. Atlantic Shores has been awarded the People's Choice and Chef's Choice awards at the March of Dimes Signature Chef's Event, where their dishes were selected for technique and artistry most appreciated and voted on by other culinary professionals. Celebrity and media judges also selected Atlantic Shores for the "Most Creative Recipe" award at the prestigious Taste of Hampton Roads competition. And their recipes have also been selected for inclusion in premier cookbooks, including the Taste of Hampton Roads Cookbook.
But more than their string of awards, compliments from Atlantic Shores' residents best express how this new concept in senior cuisine is something they look forward to daily. According to resident Elaine Mooney, "Top-notch dining was one of the things we were looking for in selecting a retirement community. After only a few visits to Atlantic Shores, we were immediately impressed with the inventive dishes, incredible flavors and wide selection, served to us just like in a high-end restaurant. No need to try to stay ahead of the latest food trends on our own -- they do it for us!"
The community's fine-food-fan residents also use their discerning palates to review dishes beyond Atlantic Shores. For two years, Atlantic Shores has underwritten the Culinary Institute of Virginia's "Soup-er Stars" competition, an event pitting 10 CIV student teams against each other to create the most wildly unique soup - with Atlantic Shores residents serving as judges. This cross-generational culinary event gives passionate students the chance to compete for real world diners, with Atlantic Shores supporting the next generation of chefs by awarding cash scholarships to the winners.
Whether creating inventive dishes, or inspiring future chefs to create new cuisine, Atlantic Shores remains on the forefront of trends to make daily dining a restaurant-quality experience for current and future generations of retirees.
For more information, www.atlanticshoresliving.com, www.facebook.com/atlanticshoresliving