Retirement community Rogue Valley Manor has seen an influx of baby boomers in the last couple of years. These younger residents come with expectations for healthier, more adventurous food that fits their lifestyle, and senior-living chefs are delivering.
“We have staunch groups of vegans and vegetarians, and while they are vocal, they are in the minority,” says Director of Dining Eric Eisenberg. “Overall, there are many more flexitarians who want to see more plant-forward choices.”
Eisenberg and his chefs are increasingly putting plants in the center of the plate and treating meat as an accompaniment on the menu. “We’re also looking toward Asian and African cultures for one-pot meals that focus on vegetables and grains,” he says. East Indian curries and North African tagines are recent additions.
Rogue Valley Manor sources from a midsize farm nearby to purchase vegetables in season, including squash and corn. It’s more challenging to work with smaller local farmers because of the volume of meals the kitchen turns out every day for its 1,000 residents and 600 staff members. But Eisenberg has worked out an arrangement with a small farm that grows only grains and legumes. The farm dries beans and stores rice for year-round availability.
Medford also has a robust grower’s market, held every Thursday. The chefs shop there for seasonal vegetables, mushrooms and fresh herbs that they turn into toppings and mix-ins for the Thursday night pasta bar. “This changes weekly with the produce that is available and has become very popular with our residents,” Eisenberg says.