“I always extend an invitation to have lunch or dinner here,” said Marybeth Cannon, Director of Community Relations, of meeting with someone who’s considering a move. “Being comfortable that you’re going to enjoy dining is a first order of business.”
We are keenly aware of the importance of getting the food ‘right’. “We are constantly evaluating every aspect of our dining service and we’re not shy about innovation,” said Ken Butler, Sage Senior Living’s Vice President of Hospitality, “We’re always looking for ways to offer more variety, higher quality and freshness, and faster service.” Recently, Sage has initiated a sea change in the way we prepare meals.
“Sous Vide” is French for “under vacuum” and, as a cooking method, it’s more often associated with fine dining than with a senior living community. The result is food that is more flavorful and succulent than it would be if cooked by high heat methods.
At high temperatures, food can easily become overcooked or undercooked if left on too long or removed from the heat too quickly. That’s not a problem with sous vide. “It’s the precise temperature control that’s the key,” said Frank DeBenedetto, Director of Dining. Food is brought to the exact target temperature for serving, no more, no less.”
Also, food under vacuum is anaerobic, meaning “living without air.” So, bacteria can’t grow, making the method an advancement in food handling as well as quality.
DiBenedetto’s career in culinary arts spans more than 25 years and every kind of dining. “In a setting like senior living, where you need to quickly serve a large number of people in a short amount of time at every meal, there’s a real danger of become just a fancy mess hall. At Sage, an à la carte dining experience is our highest priority and using the sous vide technique is one more tool that enables us to accomplish that.”
A recent trial of the technique at our sister community, Plush Mills in Wallingford, resulted in rave reviews. “It was the first piece of steak I’ve enjoyed in two years,” said one resident, who has struggled with dental issues, “I literally could have cut it with a fork.”
Another benefit of the vacuum technique is being able to reduce seasonings. “We can use about 1/4 the salt with the same enhancement of flavor,” said DiBenedetto.
“To learn how, we consulted with the best.” Butler brought in Bruno Goussault, whose consulting firm, Cuisine Solutions, has pioneered sous vide around the world. Goussard’s name is well-known in the culinary world. He’s personally trained hundreds in the technique, including many current Michelin three-star chefs. Goussard, whose company has offices in Virginia and Paris, counts Sage as an early implementer of the Cuisine Solutions method.
Philadelphia Inquirer food columnist Michael Klein came by during training to talk with Goussault and our chefs. You can read his article here.
“Our residents have the final word on anything new in dining,” said DiBenedetto, “and no one holds back with their compliments or critiques. Sous vide has been a hit.”
Call Marybeth Cannon and come for a visit: 610-640-4000.