Dallas, Texas—As a six-year old boy in France, Patrick Becquet did not have to look far for culinary inspiration.
"My father was a pastry chef, and my godfather was a chef so the family meals were magnificent," stated Chef Patrick. "Observing them in the kitchen influenced my choice of career without question."
He enrolled at Lycee Collard Noel in 1978, a prominent culinary school in St. Quentin, France. After serving as Chef de Cuisine at LePetit Pasteur in his home country, Chef Patrick made the move to California, where he spent eight years honing his skills.
In 2007, Chef Patrick transitioned to Texas where he held Executive Chef positions in Denison and Dallas. Then in May 2014, his career journey brought him to Highland Springs in North Dallas.
About to celebrate his five-year anniversary as the Executive Chef of the retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living, Chef Patrick appreciates the daily opportunity to provide fresh, cook-to-order meals for residents, employees and guests.
"In France, we use a 3-star rating system to judge restaurants, and it feels great when residents let us know that we've met the same high-quality standards here," noted Chef Patrick.
Developing a Team
As the culinary team at Highland Springs prepares more than 800 meals daily in four dining venues ranging from casual to formal, Chef Patrick's passion for service begins with developing a strong group of professionals. "From prep cooks to line cooks, it is very rewarding to mentor individuals who maintain an eagerness to learn and stretch their talent. We promote from within frequently," said Chef Patrick.
Deborah Malone serves as the Director of Dining Services at Highland Springs.
"Chef Patrick's kitchen has become a center of learning and skill development much like one would receive in a culinary school," she said. "He spends time observing and talking with his staff to learn their individual goals. His approach is always positive and motivating."
"Every day is different, but I typically arrive early to plan for the menu to ensure that deliveries have been made and staffing is filled as needed," described Chef Patrick.
The menus at Highland Springs are extensive and diverse.
"Our offerings change four times per year to match the season," said Ms. Malone. "Each menu has at least 26 entrees with daily specials. Resident input absolutely influences the selections, particularly when it comes to healthy food options."
In fact, the community formed a resident-led Dining Services Committee that provides consistent feedback to the culinary team. Marna Keith, a retired educator from Richardson, serves on the advisory group.
"We enjoy delicious food in a variety of comfortable restaurant settings. My husband and I frequently bring family here and even enjoy 'date nights' and great conversation with friends," stated Mrs. Keith. "Specifically, I am always amazed at how seriously Chef Patrick takes his work. He is easily approachable, and we all benefit from his creativity during special events like Mardi Gras and Valentine's Day."
A Worldwide Menu
With residents from not only across the country but throughout the world, the culinary team of Highland Springs strives to please a variety of tastes.
"It's a two-way street when it comes to sharing ethnic influences. I look forward to preparing French dishes like Beef Wellington and delicious crème brulee," said Chef Patrick. "In turn, being in Texas, I've learned about Tex-Mex and the art of preparing chili."
With a significant group of residents from Louisiana, the community hosts an annual Mardi Gras parade on Fat Tuesday with a buffet that includes crawfish, etouffee and gumbo. Highland Springs also holds special events such as an international day with food stations showcasing cuisine from Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Greece, among others.
The restaurant business can be grueling for cooks and managers alike with long hours and job burnout a common trend. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the annual employee turnover rate in the industry was 73 percent as recently as 2016.
Chef Patrick is enjoying a different perspective at Highland Springs. "Unlike restaurants in general, the schedule here is predictable. With a loving wife at home and a son attending college out-of-state, my life-work balance is terrific," noted Chef Patrick.
For more information about career opportunities at Highland Springs, please visit https://jobs.ericksonliving.com. Visitors can register for email alerts about job postings by field of expertise and location.
About Highland Springs: Highland Springs, situated on a scenic 89-acre campus in North Dallas, Texas, is one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®. The community is home to 1,100 residents who are supported by a team of more than 475 employees. Additional information about Highland Springs can be found at HighlandSpringsCommunity.com.