“Taste of Greenspring” Competition Celebrates Culinary Excellence

September 17, 2019

Event showcases community's talented, expertly-trained dining professionals

Springfield, Va. – September 17, 2019 – Greenspring, a continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living, recently held its First Annual "Taste of Greenspring" Culinary Competition. In addition to providing an opportunity for Greenspring's expertly trained culinarians to showcase their skills, the event featured live entertainment, cooking demonstrations by a guest chef, delicious dessert and chocolate samples, and much more.

Raising the Standards

"Competitions play a vital role in the culinary arts as they continually raise the standards of excellence," said Michael Ritt, Executive Chef at Greenspring. "There is no better way for a culinarian to hone their craft than by putting their skills and knowledge to the test in a competitive format."

At Greenspring, all of the community's talented chefs make it their number one priority to create healthy, delicious dishes that meet the unique needs of each resident. In all five of Greenspring's on-campus restaurants, residents enjoy Signature Dining, the community's commitment to preparing fresh, cooked-to-order meals at the moment of service, enabling chefs to provide distinctive, personalized dining experiences. With more than 25 dishes for residents to choose from at any given time, Greenspring's menus combine familiar favorites and regional specialties, plus weekly chef specials, seasonal dishes and special themed events.

Making the Team

For the Taste of Greenspring competition, teams from each of Greenspring's three main dining venues, The Fireside Restaurant, Woodland Skies Restaurant, and The Jefferson Restaurant, competed. Four team members were carefully selected to represent each venue through a rigorous application and review process.

Participants were required to submit an application, menu and two recipes, including an appetizer, salad or dessert in addition to one entrée or composed plate, to the Executive Chef and General Manager for review. Selected applicants were then invited to demonstrate their skills and cooking ability by preparing their selected recipes for evaluation based on American Culinary Federation (ACF) standards. The four culinarians with top marks for their recipes earned the opportunity to continue on to the Taste of Greenspring and compete together as a team.

Choosing a Winner

Each team created their own four-course menu, planned and organized their booths to display and serve their dishes, and selected unique china for presenting their show plates to the panel of judges.

"The Taste of Greenspring culinary competition was a terrific opportunity for our up-and-coming dining services staff members to spread their culinary wings," said Susan Gerhard, President of the Greenspring Resident Dining Council. "Residents were wowed with the themed presentation by each of the contestant teams, which included four courses of food, festive decorations and traditional costumes."

Based on ACF guidelines, judges evaluated each plate on Presentation, Creativity, Skills and Culinary Techniques, Craftsmanship and Quality of Work, Flavor, Taste, Texture and Doneness, as well as Composition.

"The excitement in the air was not only felt by the residents but also by the teams," said Ritt. "You could see the pride each and every one of them took in creating these dishes."

Celebrating Talent

Awards were presented for the Best Overall plate, Popular Vote and Most Creative. Winning teams earned a trophy and medals for each member of the team. Each competing employee received their own engraved chef's knife and a plaque commemorating the culinary competition.

In addition, a special award was presented to the Best Overall Team. The Desantolo Culinarians Award is a Greenspring employee award program developed to provide opportunity, resources and development to staff in the field of Culinary Arts. The winning team members were awarded a $500 stipend to be used toward continuing education, professional development in the hospitality industry, culinary resources or tools.

"As residents, we are so proud that our Dining Services Team has established this fun way to encourage our current employees and to support their continued career growth," said Gerhard. "The goal? We want them to stay here!"

"Residents and staff are still talking about what a fantastic event this was and asking when the next one is," Ritt continued. "Employees are already planning their teams for next year and there is some friendly banter going on as to who will win the top prize!"

For those interested in a culinary career at Greenspring, opportunities can be found on the careers section of the Erickson Living website.

Photo Caption: The judges enjoy carefully prepared plates presented by culinarians from Greenspring, a continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living, during the first annual Taste of Greenspring culinary competition.

Photo Credit: Larry Rood, Greenspring resident

About Greenspring: Greenspring, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 58-acre campus in Springfield, Virginia. The non-profit community of more than 2,000 residents and 1,000 employees is governed by its own independent board of directors which is supported by National Senior Campuses, www.nationalseniorcampuses.org. The board provides long-term financial security and operational oversight for the residents. Additional information about Greenspring can be found at www.GreenspringCommunity.com.