By Nicole L. Czarnomski
Meals can be the focal point of the day for many seniors in senior living communities. Meals are a good source of nourishment, comfort and a time for socializing. At Shorewood Senior Campus, food is made from scratch by trained chefs who are passionate about food and catering to the needs of residents.
Dennis Falbo, the Chef Manager, brings nearly 40 years of experience to the kitchen. He started in Hibbing at The Kahler and took a few culinary classes at a school in Hibbing as well. He knew from the start that cooking was the perfect fit for him. “I love the excitement. There’s lots of energy and teamwork in the kitchen,” Dennis stated.
After he left The Kahler in Hibbing, he opened a restaurant named Giusseppe’s, and then he ran a very successful deli. “I loved running the deli because there was a lot of creativity in making gourmet hors d’oeuvres platters. I started catering wedding parties at the Art Center in Rochester and creating artful table arrangements to go along with the food.” He said the most interesting table arrangement he created was laying sod on the table and planting flowers in the sod.
Dennis brings his creativity to the kitchen at Shorewood like a painter does with a painting. He looks for interesting color combinations or textures and pulls them together “like an abstract painting.”
His goal is to challenge the residents to broaden their palates. “I have introduced many of them to new food items like ahi tuna, salmon, Mongolian Beef and Cajun food.”
When asked about challenges of cooking in a senior living community he said, “It’s tough to make them eat healthy when all they want is French Fries.” So, he depends on a Food Forum where he meets with residents about the menu. “It gives them an opportunity to share ideas or food-related experiences,” he said.
Dawn Kaupa is another chef at Shorewood and her culinary journey began in The Cities where she studied at the American Culinary Federation. She learned upscale cooking there while also volunteering to feed the homeless, cook for the March of Dimes, and a variety of chili feeds. She went on to work at St. Mary’s hospital where she learned more about cooking large quantities.
Dawn came to Shorewood 18 years ago and never looked back. “I love working with the senior population. I arrive at 5:30 a.m. each morning and I prep for the day,” she said. Dawn bakes, creates soups, and cooks breakfast and lunch. “I love to bake because it gives me a chance to be creative.”
When Robert Swanson, another Shorewood kitchen creator, was in high school, who would have known that working as a chef at Grandma’s Grill & Saloon in Duluth would later lead to a career as a chef where the residents could all be his grandma.
Robert came to Shorewood five years ago and enjoys spending time with the residents. “My favorite shift is the Sunday buffet shift at Shorewood Place because I am out of the kitchen and interacting with the residents,” he said.
Currently, Robert exercises his creativity in dessert making. He has experimented with a variety of new cheesecake recipes. He has made New York, chocolate, Oreo, and strudel bars. But his creativity doesn’t stop there.
Last year, he was awarded first prize for his very own BBQ sauce recipe. SilverCrest hosted a pig roast and chefs from all campuses were encouraged to submit a sample of their work. Robert said, “My BBQ sauce won by a few votes. My sauce was made with whiskey and beat out another sauce with bacon. Imagine that!”
Not only has Robert proved to be excellent in the kitchen but he was also awarded the Silver Star the same year his sauce won first place. The Silver Star is one of the highest awards an employee can receive at SilverCrest. Robert was described as having “an outstanding attitude and quality of work.”
Chef David Tator works closely with Dennis when planning and creating meals for Shorewood residents. He has been the executive chef at some of the finest restaurants in the United States. He received formal training from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and went on to cook in hotels, conference centers, resorts, and private clubs. David has been in the industry for 47 years and joked that the reason he came to Shorewood two years ago was that he was a senior citizen.
David made his way to Rochester with a General Manager with whom he worked in the early 90s. He was the Executive Chef at the Rochester Country Club for several years before making his way to Shorewood.
“Of all the environments I have worked in, Shorewood customers are the most appreciative group of people I have ever come across. They let me know what they think of the food, and they are all very gracious.”
“Keeping the same customers happy each day can be challenging so we try to generate new menu items,” David said. He tries to interact with the residents as often as possible because dining is a social thing. He strives to enhance the dining experience with good food and good fun. Special event dinners like holiday meals are his favorite to prepare. He also loves ice carving and baking.
Kim McCoy is Shorewood’s Bistro Manager, and she prepares lunches for Bistro customers. There are a variety of choices on the menu at the Bistro including healthy soups and salads, hamburgers and hotdogs, quesadillas, a cranberry turkey wrap, chicken strips and French fries and breakfast items. The Bistro is a restaurant open to Shorewood residents to the public. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Kim started working in kitchens at age 10. She went to work with her mom who worked in the café at IBM. Kim started doing salad prep and by the time she turned 13 she ran the café on the weekend by herself.
She later started working in the Executive Briefing Center and learned more about elegant dining. People came to the restaurant from all over the world. She helped create breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and cocktail parties.
“After IBM, I went on to work in the Kwik Trip Deli and I took care of an elderly lady for about five years. I loved working with this woman so when the position at Shorewood came up I was excited about the opportunity,” Kim said.
Kim has been at Shorewood for about four years. She is trying to get more people excited about coming to the Bistro. “I enjoy working at the Bistro, and I am excited for Cascade Lake and Park to open. The chefs have discussed getting a pedal cart and selling ice cream bars or having a burger cart for the park.”
Kim is always up for new suggestions and challenges. “If a customer has a suggestion, I try to accommodate their requests.”
Shorewood’s Bistro is open to the public, Tuesday-Saturday 11 AM – 1 PM. Call Shorewood’s Marketing team at 507-252-9110 to schedule your tour and try a delicious meal from one of these talented chefs. We look forward to you seeing you!