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A senior-living chef takes it outside

COVID-19 restrictions motivated Jeffrey Boggie to think outside the dining rooms of Windy Hill Village.
Photograph courtesy of Windy Hill Village

After meeting a pro who schooled him in authentic barbecue a few years ago, Jeffrey Boggie “got all fired up” about this outdoor cooking technique. The July 4 holiday was the ideal time to showcase his barbecue skills at Windy Hill Village, the senior-living community in Phillipsburg, Pa., where he is director of food services for Cura Hospitality.

Boggie actually staged the barbecue event on July 2, a weekday when more employees would be available to attend. Residents of the 120-bed continuous care facility had the meal delivered to their rooms, following COVID-19 restrictions.

smoking meat

Photograph courtesy of Windy Hill Village

“I began setting up on Wednesday, prepping the pork shoulders with my dry rub recipe,” says Boggie. The rub is a blend of brown sugar, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard and three types of ground pepper—black, white and lemon pepper. He then starts the seasoned pork shoulders in the convection oven “to caramelize the crust and begin the cooking process.”

Next, he gets the outdoor smoker going, loading it with mesquite and hickory chips. The meat smokes low and slow, for at least two hours or as long as time permits. “Cooking over low heat for several hours tenderizes the pork and infuses it with flavor,” says Boggie. Towards the end, he brushes the meat with a Mississippi-style barbecue sauce. He also cooked a couple of briskets in the smoker for beef fans.

The day of the barbecue event, his assistant director set up a table and catering equipment on an outdoor patio, decking it out with July 4 decorations. The foodservice team all wore their chef jackets, dishing out the smoky pulled pork and beef along with housemade cole slaw, macaroni salad and other sides. For dessert, there were ice cream novelties.

“We got great feedback from the staff and residents,” says Boggie. He now is excited about doing a similar barbecue for Windy Hill Village’s independent-living residents, who are housed in a separate apartment complex on the grounds. “We can set up a tent and have a barbecue meal for purchase, charging $5 to $8,” he says. “We just try to break even.”

pork shoulder and brisket

Photograph courtesy of Windy Hill Village

Boggie is also thinking up ways to get nursing patients who are less mobile outside once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. The community has a serenity garden where he can set up a picnic or barbecue, and residents could be wheeled out there, even inviting their families, he says. Benches and tables in the garden add to the comfortable outdoor setting.

Another of his ideas is to clear the garden's walkways and arrange tastings at four or five stations. “It would be fun to do for Halloween, with decorations and seasonal foods, like chicken corn chowder in small cups and bruschetta,” Boggie says. “Those who can walk will be able to stroll through, and others will have room for wheelchairs.”

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