Westminster Gets "Chopped": Culinary competition brings the heat
June 27, 2017
For our chefs, culinary skills aren't just about keeping a sharp knife. July may be National Culinary Month, but the Westminster Communities of Florida dining teams are taking a bite at excellence already! Last week, we had an all-day training highlighted by a special "Chopped" culinary competition, held in the Acosta Foodservice kitchen in Orlando.
Each team of five chefs had one hour to make an appetizer, entree and two sides, using the same food basket of ingredients: Chicken breasts, sausage, cabbage, bananas, granola and more – and they set out to create the best appetizer, entree and sides.
In the end, the dishes had to withstand the heat of the judges. They scored each team based on their creative use of the ingredients, taste and presentation. Each team had to present their plate and explain the ingredients, cooking technique and inspiration. Beyond the food basket, they had use of a fully stocked pantry to assist them in creating the dishes.
The competition to win was fierce. Resident Experience Mario DeLuca said, "I wasn't surprised that the competition was so intense. We've developed a strong culinary team that has exceptional cookery skills and a true passion for food and the culinary arts. It's very rewarding."
Although the competition was intense, two stunning dishes were presented by the winning team to the judges: A flank steak bruschetta appetizer served on sweet banana tostones, and topped with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and polenta, and an entree of granola-crusted chicken breast with a chorizo and root vegetable hash, slaw of napa cabbage and plum, and a balsamic molasses drizzle.
Congratulations to the winning team, composed of Westminster Winter Park Executive Chef Elijah Durham, Westminster Woods on Julington Creek Dining Services Director David Graham, Westminster Suncoast Executive Chef Kenny Hunsberger, and Westminster Towers & Shores Assistant Dining Services Director Melissa Paul.
Chef Durham said, "I had a great time! As a chef who was new to the organization, I was honored to be able to work with Chef Kenny, Melissa and David. Our team had great comradery and organization. We listened to each other's ideas and executed them well. I was very happy with our team and our placement in the competition, and very much look forward to the next competition!"
"Chopped" and trainings like it are all part of our commitment to enhancing the resident dining experience and providing training opportunities for all of our team members. After all, dining is one of the dimensions of our exclusive My W Life program.
SENIORS ENJOY ACTIVE LIVING, FUN AND GAMES IN THE SUN WITH WESTMINSTER COMMUNITIES OF FLORIDA
March 6, 2017
At Eckerd College, more than 300 senior residents from around Florida
enjoyed the organization’s St. Pete Games, with outdoor festivities, games and fitness opportunities
ST. PETERSBURG, March 6, 2017 – In the bright sun on a pleasant day last Friday afternoon, more than 300 Westminster Communities of Florida residents from around Tampa Bay and throughout the state came together at Eckerd College’s GO Pavilion for Westminster’s third annual St. Pete Games. The objective: Have fun in the great outdoors! The attendees competed as teams in a variety of games to celebrate active living and wellbeing for seniors.
The St. Pete Games showcase wellness for residents enjoying active living with the support of Eckerd College students and faculty. Residents enjoyed shotput, horseshoes, putting, lawn darts, croquet and more, plus live music and dancing. Eckerd students helped to put on the games and tabulate the scores, for inter-generational opportunities to learn more about seniors and their interests.
“What a beautiful day! I’m glad to be here and having so much fun,” said Terry Arnn, a resident at Westminster Winter Park, who traveled down to St. Petersburg for the day. “It’s been great seeing the smiles and the positive attitude. Plus, I was 5-for-5 in lawn darts!”
The St. Pete Games are hosted by Eckerd College as part of the university’s partnership of lifelong learning with Westminster Communities of Florida. “Welcome back!” said Eckerd chaplain Douglas McMahon. “Our partnership with Westminster has grown so much through the years. We’re fortunate to have here two institutions with a passion for lifelong learning.”
Marcia Mensing, a resident at Westminster Palms in St. Petersburg, said that she had been at all three games. “I love seeing everyone outside and active,” Mensing said. “Wow, it’s nice seeing everyone in such a different context.”
Westminster Communities of Florida, the state’s largest not-for-profit provider of active senior living, emphasizes whole-person wellbeing for its older adult residents. With communities in Bradenton, Jacksonville, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Winter Park, the organization serves nearly 7,000 residents statewide with a lifestyle featuring active living, wellness and lifelong learning.
Valentine's Day Kids Continue Annual Tradition
February 13, 2017
Originally published in the Northeast Journal.
For 7 years now, “The Valentine Kids” have made an annual visit to Westminster Palms, an active senior living community right here in Old Northeast. Over the years, the kids come bearing gifts of hand-made valentines, homemade cookies, candy and, most importantly, friendly faces, warm smiles and big hugs.
The ringleader/mom, Sharon Kantner, who lives in Old Northeast, came up with the idea in 2011. She knew it would be a good life experience for her daughters to reach out to the seniors at Westminster Palms. Each year Sharon recruits additional children to join the troop of merry-makers. Over the years, 13 different children have made Valentine’s Day visits to the residents, and Sharon’s two daughters, Kate and Caroline, have always participated. The girls and their friends spend hours making beautiful and heartfelt valentines, always writing a personal message on each card.
When the kids arrive, each year they take a photo in the lobby – and my-oh-my have they grown! Over the last seven years, the kids have visited with hundreds of different residents, always bringing smiles, laughter and love. They leave behind goodies, handmade valentines and sweet Valentine’s Day memories.