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A cooking competition turns into a recruiting event for Aberdeen Heights retirement community

Cura Hospitality, the facility’s new foodservice provider, staged “Chef Wars” to introduce residents to the kitchen. One volunteer was so impressed, he joined the culinary team.
Chefs Wars participants
Photo courtesy of Cura Hospitality

Cura Hospitality, the new foodservice management company for Aberdeen Heights retirement community in Kirkwood, Mo., held a cooking competition in February to introduce and engage residents with the culinary team.

“Chef Wars” featured Cura’s newly trained cooks and seasoned team members, each showcasing one of their signature dishes. Residents sampled the recipes and voted on their favorites.

The winning dish was created by newly promoted cook Mitch Williams, who prepared his mom’s Mexican Lasagna. “I wanted to cook my favorite dish and am glad residents and chefs got to try it,” he says.

But Williams wasn’t the only winner. One Cura team member brought along a chef friend, Ryan Weber, to volunteer at the event. “Ryan decided that after that experience and what he called a ‘family environment,’ he wanted to work with Cura,” says Lindsay Sissom, Cura’s director of dining services at the time of the event. 

Sissom has since been promoted to Cura area manager of the St. Louis/Kansas City region for Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America, parent company of Aberdeen Heights.

Chef Wars accomplished its goal of familiarizing and engaging residents with high-quality senior-living dining. In addition to Williams, culinary team participants included Greg Stelzer, sous chef; Katie Stelzer, baker; and cooks DeAndre Latimore, Patrick Nelson and Tom Poe.

As an added benefit, the event provided an opportunity for a potential employee to actually. experience the job prior to taking it. Weber, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, was hired and is now working with the Cura team.

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