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Mise en Place: Senior dining grows up and food as art

Mise en Place: Senior dining grows up and food as art

Kitchen techniques, science, training, technology & magic

“The biggest thing I’ve seen change is seniors’ tastes. I think the ‘Blue Plate Special’ idea of meat and potatoes isn’t going away, but seniors are now going for more world cuisine. If you make something fresh, they’ll like it better, like our housemade buttermilk tarragon dressing.

We make everything from scratch, and we don’t do buffets. It requires training and buy-in from the cooks, the kitchen staff and the waitstaff.

If you listen to people, they’ll work harder for you. We have this new program where we list our hobbies on our nametags. Mine is painting. It could be boating, darts, bike riding…It’s a conversation starter.

If you can get people talking, cooks will bring ideas. They’re definitely ahead of me in a lot of things they do. We’ve had recipe contests
for chili, and the latest contest is for salad dressings.

Every cook is cross-trained in every position. Most cooks that I hire come from a restaurant, and they have to learn about senior dining when they start. And I train people for my job so if I’m ever not there, things can run smoothly. A lot of people worry about their own jobs and don’t do that, but you should.”

Kitchen Psychology: Art-inspired food tastes better


We’ve all heard the old saw, “You eat with your eyes first,” but how, exactly? And how does the way a meal is perceived affect the way we eat? Charles Spence, an experimental psychologist at Oxford University, tackles some of those questions in his book, “The Perfect Meal: The Multisensory Science of Food and Dining.”

Here are a few findings:
☛ Food and fine art: When food was arranged to resemble a work of art, such as a salad plated up to look like Kandinsky’s Painting No. 201, diners enjoyed their food more.

☛ Plate shape: Round, white plates make the sweet flavors of food stand out more. Black, angular plates bring out savory flavors.

☛ Lighting: People who like their coffee strong drink it more in bright light, while those who like weaker coffee drink it more in dim light.

☛ Music and wine: In another experiment, Spence found that “Red wines need either the minor key or music that has negative emotion. They don’t like happy music…Cabernets like angry music.”  

Why do they do that?

(Continued from page 1)

If you’ve ever ordered an espresso to perk yourself up after a great big Italian meal, you may have noticed an “appealing” addition: the rind of a lemon.

Some say it originated as a way to mask the flavor of bitter coffee that wasn’t brewed right. Others claim it’s an authentic Italian touch. Well, it’s not Italian, according to the Garrubbo Guide and other sources. Either way, make ours a double!   

The secret life of strawberries
Did you know the strawberry (pictured here, part of Morrison Healthcare’s Strawberry Shortbread) has a secret? What most people think of as the fruit’s seeds is actually the real fruit, and the red flesh is more of an “accessory.” Not only that, the “seeds” on the outside of the strawberry even contain their own seeds! Mind: blown.

Courtesy of the California Strawberry Commission

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