The role of the Executive Chef has recently evolved into something of a celebrity within the senior living industry. Many senior living communities are elevating their dining programs to produce menus and foods that rival top resorts. As the demand for distinguished food and beverage grows among residents and operators, so does the demand for exceptional culinary talent. The quality of life provided by a career in senior living has also piqued the interest of many executive chefs.
But no matter how resort-like a senior living community is, it still shares the challenges of both the healthcare and hospitality industries. The skills required from Senior Living Chefs go beyond the needs of standard restaurant and hotel kitchens. Here is what it takes to become a successful executive chef in the Senior Living Industry:
Extreme Budgeting Skills
If profit margins are slim in restaurants or hotels, then they are razor thin in senior living dining programs. Senior living chefs need to cut costs and minimize loss in ways that a restaurant industry chef wouldn’t. Since dining is one of the biggest priorities for those considering a senior living community, none of these budgeting strategies can interfere with food quality.
A unique facet of working in senior living dining is that every diner is a regular. On the one hand, this means that a disappointing meal could be taken personally by residents. And on the other hand, the culinary team can build meaningful relationships with diners at a level not seen in most of the restaurant industry. Chefs with outgoing personalities will not only excel in senior living but even find meaningful careers.
In the restaurant industry, many chefs scoff at altering their recipes or providing salt and pepper at the table. But when most diners have health concerns that limit their diet, that unyielding attitude must be left at the door. Low sodium, high fiber, even purees: Senior living chefs will do it all. They can accept a challenge, roll up their sleeves, and switch gears at a moment’s notice.
Most hourly and entry-level workers in senior living are young; high school or college students working between classes and on weekends. Generation Z has incredible growth potential if coached correctly, but the turnover rates in senior living rival those of the hotel and restaurant industry. Executive chefs must have a passion for teaching, as the new faces in senior living kitchens are constant.
Work with Recruiters Experienced in both Senior Living and Culinary Searches
Senior living chefs handle these challenges in stride while creating quality food for discerning residents. If you are looking to hire top culinary talent for your senior living communities, our senior living and healthcare recruiters can help. Contact us to find out how!