Though his title is Culinary Director Specialist, Michael A. is more than just a chef.
At every Sagora Senior Living community he visits, he finds a way to get involved outside of the kitchen. Sometimes it’s as a line judge in a volleyball game. Other times, it’s as a caller in a bingo game or the leader of a stretching class. Wherever he’s at, there’s always something for him to do, some way for him to connect with residents in a meaningful way in addition to his savory skillets.
“I am here for residents to dine with dignity and grace, to have fun, and build relationships at every community I visit,” Michael said. “[I want to be] present in their lives and bring my best to each resident in every community I am at.”
An accomplished chef, Michael knows the hospitality industry well. Before coming to Sagora Senior Living, he helped open a restaurant in addition to working for some of the nation’s largest companies as a corporate chef.
Two years ago, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was looking for a change. Michael wanted something more meaningful than the traditional restaurant experience, somewhere where he could drive positive change in a variety of environments without leaving his love for food and service-oriented mindset behind.
He found it when he accepted a position at Ansel Park Independent Living in Rocklin, California.
“Every day is a new meal, a new menu and a different opportunity to make an impact in a resident’s life,” Michael said. “From cooking their favorite dish their way or acknowledging their birthday or a special occasion with a dessert just for them, it makes me happy.”
Camaraderie is a major part of life in a kitchen. It becomes a team, a unit that operates together in order to make sure each dish is correct and each meal goes smoothly. At Ansel Park Independent Living, it was no different.
“Cooking food and feeding residents is always more fun when you do it with your peers,” Michael said. “My Ansel Park Independent Living crew from JJ to Jason and everyone in between made coming to work fun.”
Sous Chef Tigist W. is another associate that made a lasting impact on Michael thanks to her experience with food from all around the world. At Ansel Park Independent Living, Tigist and Michael frequently held specialized cooking demonstrations and meals for residents. Michael says that working those events with Tigist are some of his favorite memories.
“She is the heart and soul of that community’s kitchen,” Michael said.
After fewer than two years at Ansel Park Independent Living, Michael was promoted to Culinary Director Specialist at Sagora Senior Living’s home office in Fort Worth, Texas. In his new position, he is currently focused on helping communities expand their culinary horizons and showcase what he calls a “whole new world of food.” This means new dishes, new menus, and new ways of procuring the foods needed to make them.
He’s no longer in Rocklin, no longer around the residents and associates that he got to know so well over the past two years, but he is okay with that. There are always new communities, with new residents and associates for Michael to meet.
There are always more people to connect with.
“Being able to banter back and forth [with residents] and gain free wisdom from their life experience is invaluable,” Michael said. “I can do what I love, make people laugh and be able to foster a new group of culinarians.”
Are you interested in a career where you drive positive change in the lives of seniors? If so, Sagora Senior Living is the place for you. With open positions at more than 55 communities in 11 different states, we’re confident that you can find the perfect fit.
Ready to start your journey? Apply today!