A hush fell over the dining room as residents at Brentmoor Retirement Community enjoyed a holiday feast prepared by future top chefs from the cooking academy, L’ Ecole Culinaire. Their delight with the delicious meal was audibly evident from the very first course. Nobody said a word; all were busy eating.
“Ingenious meal, (they) mixed sweet and Irish potatoes, which I have never had before, absolutely delicious,” said Lena Dworkin, resident of Brentmoor.
Brentmoor Retirment Community, Black Twig Communications and L’ Ecole Culinaire came together to bring the residents at Brentmoor a festive holiday meal with a purpose, to prepare a flavorful meal while promoting exciting new changes within the community.
Executive Director Denise Niemann said, "Our staff chefs prepare dynamic meals every day, but the holiday feast was a treat for the residents.”
Dean of Cullunary Studies, John Womick said, “Our goal was to present a healthful menu and do better than the U.S.D.A. guidelines. Our focus was to serve a balanced meal with great flavor without added fat and salt.”
Chef Damon Payne, instructor of Creative, Artistic and Healthful Cuisine created the menu.
“I used one teaspoon of salt for the entire meal,” said Chef Payne.
With only one teaspoon of salt and under 4 ounces of fat used in the entire three course meal that served 20 people, they definitely succeeded. No more than a third of the calories were from fat.
The first course was creamy corn chowder finished with avocado puree. No cream was used keeping with the low fat menu. Followed by the soup was the entrée which consisted of pork loin with vegetable demi-glaze with rosemary and cherry served with steamed asparagus and roasted sweet potato hash. The marinade for the pork loin was made from shallots, garlic, rosemary and a touch of balsamic vinegar. For dessert, house-made biscotti were served. They were made with star anise spice and topped with fresh berries with berry coulis.
“The sauce on the pork loin was especially good," said Helen Schwartz, resident at Brentmoor.
Payne hand picked second year students that are 20 weeks away from graduation to help prepare the meal. This was an opportunity for them to put into practice what they have learned at the academy over the past 70 weeks.
Among other things, students have learned how to provide flavor, body and silkiness to dishes without the added calories and salt. They used herbs, vinegar, spices and other seasonings to flavor the dishes for Brentmoor residents.
“You are not missing anything. But when you take the fat out, you have to add flavor somewhere else,” said Womick.
The Brentmoor residents all looked as though they had a great time dining together and many commented on the food and the presentation of the meal.
“The presentation was lovely,” said Brentmoor resident Ida Orenstein.
L’Ecole Culinaire presentation dining room is open to the public beginning the second week of January Monday through Thursday during lunch. Although reservations are not required, they are recommended.