Chef-Prepared Meals: A Peek into The Village of Bedford Walk’s Meal Program
The Village of Bedford Walk, a JES | Prime Senior Living community, works to provide residents with a luxurious, concierge lifestyle to encourage residents to grow, learn and live life their way. One of the amenities that helps to provide this lifestyle includes the team of personal chefs from Peachtree Catering who work at The Village of Bedford Walk.
Recently, The Village of Bedford Walk staff members sat down with Benjamin Hamrah, general manager of Peachtree Catering, to get some more insight into the meals his chefs prepare for our residents. See below for Ben’s answers to all of our questions!
Where does Peachtree Catering’s food come from?
One of our core values is to keep as much of our business in the community as possible. We buy a very large portion of our produce and meats from farmers within 50 miles of Columbia and are working to increase our local ingredients every day. We believe that this not only gives our clients a higher quality product but helps to build our community and the families that live and work in it.
How do you decide what meals to serve? Do you plan them specifically for seniors?
We are incredibly lucky to have Rocky Galloway as our head chef for The Village of Bedford
Walk. Rocky and his wife Cheryl work together to coordinate Bedford Walker meals, using their years of food service experience to plan the menus based on a combination of seasonality and resident requests. While we always keep the age range and dietary needs of our residents in mind, we also design the menus around the diverse background that all the residents bring to the community. The fact that Bedford Walk is a JES |Prime Senior Living community means that the residents have a certain standard and expectation that we strive to bring to them each day.
What is your favorite thing about working with The Village of Bedford Walk?
While it may sound cliché, it is absolutely the residents. Before Bedford Walk, I had no experience with independent senior living communities, and by far the best experience has been witnessing how much fun they have every day. Just this Memorial Day, while I was grilling out on the patio for lunch, I got to laugh and “participate” in morning yoga with a huge group of residents! While my participation may have been purely in spirit, it was very cool to witness. I’ve built Gingerbread Houses, shared recipes, learned new games, been destroyed in card games and developed some truly valuable relationships with so many of the residents. We’ve laughed, cried, joked and danced together on many occasions. To top it all, I have several employees that have moved on to new chapters of their lives but continue to keep in contact with the residents. It really is a family at Bedford Walk.
Do you take resident meal requests and comments into consideration when planning the menu?
EVERY CHANCE WE GET! Our favorite thing is getting new/old recipes from the residents. I have a book of recipes that we’ve kept during our time at Bedford Walk, all collected from different residents and we love it! We also LOVE requests. Our primary goal is to make the residents happy, and we believe the best way to do that is to make sure that we are giving them exactly what they want. My favorite part of our resident meetings is having them all volunteer meal ideas that they’d like to see us prepare.
Tell us more about Peachtree Catering.
Peachtree was started by my father, owner and mentor, Ali Hamrah, in 1996. We first opened as an event space for wedding receptions but quickly realized that Columbia had a need for event spaces in all fashions and capacities daily. We were founded with the principal of giving our community a quality product at an affordable price. We began as a small business, giving our customers only one or two people to work with from start to finish. We believe that the personal service they received throughout the event process gave them the experience that they wanted and deserved. Throughout our 24 years of operation, we’ve never changed that, and we truly believe it is why we have been able to be so successful. We don’t have a “sales” or “marketing” team, and we don’t have a brigade of “banquet managers.” This gives us the opportunity to build genuine relationships with our clients, and even more importantly ensures that the message they conveyed to us on the first day they walked in is carried out on their most important of days. Peachtree is not a place, it’s a family, and that will never change.
How do you handle residents’ food allergies and dietary restrictions?
One of the great things about Bedford Walk is that the staff is dedicated to their residents’ satisfaction. Because of this, they set up personal and individual meetings with any residents with food allergies or dietary restrictions. I sit down with the resident(s) and Laura, the community manager and all-around boss lady, and have a discussion about their needs/wants/doctor’s orders and how we can meet them. We don’t like to make a big public display about them, and most residents don’t either, so Rocky and Cheryl make sure to take care of each resident specifically. Another great thing about Bedford Walk is their ever-growing resident profiles. We all work together to keep a profile for each resident, noting likes/dislikes and any dietary restrictions they may have so that we are always striving for that end of the day satisfaction.