May 17, 2016 • Provision Living at Columbia • By: Jill Dudley
The food landscape, as we know it, is changing. Many Americans are educating themselves about food – where it comes from and how it’s grown – creating a culture-shift that emphasizes personal choice and access to the best quality ingredients for optimum health.
Chef Jesse Souder, dining manager at Provision Living at Columbia, believes that this new awareness is more than just a cultural trend – it’s a way of life. Souder has been working in the hospitality industry for over 20 years and has witnessed many trends, but he believes that this one is here to stay.
Souder had childhood aspirations of becoming a chef, believing that good food makes for happy people. He pursued his dream and has spent the last two decades building his career in restaurants and hotels, serving customers who expect the best in both culinary quality and the overall dining experience.
In 2015, Souder participated in the Mid-Missouri Taste of Elegance cooking competition, taking second place for his dish of Osso Buco with Wild Mushroom Risotto and Braised Swiss Chard.
“I personally care about where my food comes from,” admits Souder. “I garden at home and grow micro greens using a technology called aquaponics, which is basically cultivating plants in water. My focus is always on quality and freshness, and how my food will affect my guests. We create almost everything we serve at Provision Living from scratch, and use organic ingredients when available.”
Chef Souder has been with leading culinary services at the assisted living and memory care community since December 2015 and hosts cooking demonstrations for residents, proving that food can be fun as well as nutritious. For Valentine’s Day last year, residents created chocolate bowls using melting chocolate and balloons, dipping their balloons in the chocolate then letting them dry, creating thin dessert bowls that were also edible.
The community has created several events in support of their dining services program, including monthly “Chef Chats” that invite input from residents about the menu and other food options. The chef works to accommodate all requests, including re-creating favorite family recipes into the regular menu.
Souder also incorporates recipes that were popular in 1940s and 1950s, like casseroles and other comfort foods. “Post-War America was all about convenience,” says Souder. “Cookbooks from that era regularly called for canned ingredients so when I create something like a tuna casserole, for instance, I will use fresh tuna and vegetables to create a recipe that feels like home but is still nutritious and fresh tasting. Even our baked goods come from a dough starter, and we use real butter rather and cream in healthy amounts.”
Serving quality food and creating interesting and original menus is an expression of Chef Souder’s appreciation and love to his residents and his families. “I’ve gotten to know many of our seniors on a personal level and I get such satisfaction and joy to serve them meals that can help them reconnect with their past and also let them explore new, unfamiliar tastes,” says Souder. “Bringing people together to share a meal is something that’s important to me and I am humbled to serve my guests with food that has integrity and increases quality of life.
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