Executive Chef Brings Inspired Culinary Vision to Lantern Hill

February 26, 2019

Justin Pearsall is passionate about creating an exceptional dining experience on campus.


Lantern Hill, an Erickson Senior Living developed and managed community in New Providence, New Jersey, has a new executive chef, and the word around town is he's imaginative and creative when it comes to food. Executive Chef Justin Pearsall juxtaposes elegant dishes like Chilean seabass and scallops against home-style meals like stuffed peppers and stews on the menus of Lantern Hill's two sit-down restaurants, Chef's Table and Tall Oaks.


"We can go as high-end or as family-friendly as you want," Pearsall says. "Because of where we're located, just outside of New York City, and the dining experience our residents expect, we offer a creative menu for a variety of tastes and preferences."


Thanks to his team of talented chefs and Lantern Hill's dining services model, Signature Dining, they can do just that.


Signature Dining brings culinary delights to Lantern Hill residents

"Signature Dining embraces fresh, made-to-order, resident-focused menu offerings, executed at the moment of service to deliver an exceptional dining experience," says Dining Services Director Jason Fernandi. "Signature Dining empowers our chefs to cook with more creativity and meet special dietary needs or requests of our residents."


With more and more people facing dietary restrictions such as gluten-sensitivity or those who choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, Pearsall says that, "because we cook from scratch, we have the ability to modify recipes in order to meet personal preferences with individual flavor profiles expanding our ability to meet individual needs."


When it comes to overall customer satisfaction, Pearsall places a high priority on the dining experience, and he goes straight to the source to find out how to continuously improve.


Resident dining committee chairman and former Scotch Plains Mayor Gabe Spera says that Pearsall has been a wonderful addition to the community. His committee meets regularly with Pearsall and Fernandi to relay fellow neighbors' comments and suggestions, criticism and praise.


The dining committee, which acts as a liaison between their neighbors and the dining team leadership, meets regularly with Pearsall and Fernandi to share comments, concerns, suggestions, and praise. That's where they make the real, meaningful changes. "Food is such a big part of family and community, and that's the biggest thing that we strive for. We want people to be out, to talk, to have quality meals that they can sit around and have conversations with family and friends and enrich their day. At the end of the day, food brings people together," says Pearsall.


Pearsall finds personal and professional gratification at Erickson Senior Living

Pearsall has been cooking for nearly 20 years. Like many chefs, he started off as a dishwasher and prep cook in traditional restaurants. That's where he first met Phil Maloney, now corporate executive chef and Director, Special Projects for Erickson Senior Living, who helped Pearsall hone his culinary skills. He spent the majority of his career, 15 years, as a chef with another retirement community in Virginia Beach, Va.


When Pearsall was looking to advance in his career, he turned to his mentor. At Maloney's recommendation, Pearsall first joined the dining services team at Maris Grove, the Erickson Senior Living developed and managed retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., then transferred to Lantern Hill last October when Chef's Table reopened after renovations.


"At Erickson Senior Living, I saw the potential to advance," says Pearsall. "That's the biggest plus with Erickson for people in this business. It's growing at such a fast rate, the opportunity for advancement is almost always there if you do your job well. Also, you can enjoy a career where you can be of service to residents."

Pearsall says he gets the most satisfaction from building chefs, just as his mentor, Maloney, did for him. "The culture that's created here is a culture I want to work in. Erickson Senior Living is very big on supporting and building their staff, promoting and training from within. Everything that Erickson does speaks about planning for the future. That's a big deal for people in this industry," Pearsall says.


Experience the flavors of Lantern Hill for yourself

In addition to the mouthwatering Signature Dining options offered at Lantern Hill, this Erickson Senior Living-managed community offers the best in senior independent living. From beautiful apartment homes to engaged and active residents, Lantern Hill's scenic 26-acre campus in New Providence, New Jersey is ideal for enjoying a carefree retirement. Request information or schedule a tour at Lantern Hill today!