The Stayton at Museum Way, an urban senior living community, has a Sky Lounge on the 11th floor with a view of Fort Worth. Recent hire Executive Chef Uwe Rudnick is currently bringing the food to new heights to match the setting. Rudnick, born in Germany, has cooked all over the world in some of the best hotels. Now, he’s finding out how different chef life is with dining guests who live there, rather than just passing through.
Q: You had been working as a hotel chef before this. How is the senior dining world different? Have you been interacting with the residents?
A: Yes, I interact with the residents on a daily basis during lunch and dinner. When I first started at The Stayton, it was a very unique experience for me. In a hotel, if a guest suggests something, you generally never see that person again, or they just happen to come back a few months later. Here at The Stayton, this is their home. They check up on a lot to ensure we’re delivering quality food consistently, which I appreciate! The residents are fantastic; they offer great input and help me understand what they enjoy eating.
Q: How do you get that feedback, other than just talking to the residents at meal times?
A: We meet biweekly with a food committee and discuss meals for the following two weeks. I find it refreshing and positive to work with our residents, as they’re committed to top-notch food. They’re all extremely supportive of everything we’re trying to accomplish within this department. They push us to achieve great heights in all dining areas, whether that’s food or service.
Q: What did you learn about the food in Texas when you first started work there?
A: I’ve been living in Texas for over 25 years now and over those years have really learned the art of combining a number of my recipes with Texas flavors, from different kinds of chilis to very unique Texas spices.
Q: And you kind of found a taste of home in Texas, right?
A: As a born and raised German man, I consider schnitzel to be at home in Texas, just as the taco is. There is a very heavy German population in South Texas (Fredericksburg area), which is well known for their German cooking.
Q: Texas is such a big state, there are a lot of cuisines within…
A: The food in Texas is so diversified. So much seafood on the East Coast, a lot of cattle in West Texas and an abundance of Hispanic food in South Texas. The Dallas-Fort Worth area seemed to be a good melting pot for all of these cuisines.
Q: How does it all relate to the food you’re serving to residents?
A: We want to reflect all these cuisines of the state of Texas at The Stayton. Most of our residents are from the Fort Worth area and are very proud of the culinary heritage here. I see it as my top priority to enforce this practice through the meals we provide.
Q: I’ve heard that you’re going for a “grandma’s cooking” approach for the residents. What does that mean from a culinary standpoint?
A: To me, “grandma-style” cooking, at its core, means fresh cooking. This is food that is prepared fresh daily, simmered for long periods of time, prepared with a passion for quality and flavor. At The Stayton, we have a huge repertoire of not only traditional but fashionable foods. Our residents are very well travelled all over the world, some have homes overseas, where they go on vacations to places like Italy, Germany, Asia, you name it. These travels have taught the way of proper food preparation. So, to me, cooking “grandma style” means preparing real food with real techniques using real flavors.
Q: What are some new items you’ve added to the menus?
A: We’ve added a lot of new items to all of the menus. For example, we add fresh, colorful salads on a weekly basis with seasonal ingredients. One of the biggest hits has been osso bucco, which is a favorite of mine and quickly became a favorite of the residents. We’ve added lamb dishes and of course some German dishes, such as schnitzel, red cabbage and sauerbraten. I’m happy to say all these have been very well received by the residents! We also take recipes from them of their favorite dishes for everyone to enjoy.
Q: Why is foodservice such an important piece of caring for seniors?
A: Food, in my opinion, delivers memories. Taste and flavor have the ability to take you back to a time at home, when you were young and your mother or father used to cook. Memories of happy times, though food, is what we want to provide.
Q: What are some dishes you’re looking forward to for the fall season?
A: We want to stay very consistent during every season. So, for fall and winter, expect lots of Brussels sprouts and cabbages, prepared in a very appetizing way. During the winter, we always look forward to stews, homemade meatloaf, braised short ribs and seasonal delights like Thanksgiving turkey, pumpkin and pecan pies, honey-glazed ham…slow-roasted prime rib…Makes you want to be a resident at The Stayton, right?
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