Chefs of Area Senior Living Communities Compete for Ultimate Chef America Title; Free Event Educates Public on Heart Healthy Dining, Aging

Silent Auction Proceeds Benefit The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation

Oct 25, 2010, 11:08 ET from Brookdale Senior Living

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- A dynamic culinary competition among area professional senior living chefs that highlights healthy cooking, wellness and quality of life for older adults is coming soon.  During the culinary cook-off, the professional chefs from Brookdale Senior Living, an industry-leading owner and operator of senior living communities, will entertain, educate and showcase their culinary talents to compete for the chance to win the "Ultimate Chef America" title.

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On Thursday, Nov. 18 from 4 to 7 p.m., Carriage Club Jacksonville, a Brookdale Senior Living community, located at 9601 Southbrook Drive in Jacksonville Fla., will open its doors to the public and host the intense competition and free educational event. Seating is limited. Reservations by Friday, Nov. 12 to 904-646-1600 or 877-925-5454 are required.

During the Ultimate Chef America competition, two teams of four Dining Services staff members from area senior living communities will compete during a two-hour cooking competition, focusing on healthy cooking for seniors. They will be charged with preparing four courses, and only able to use a grill for cooking.

Dishes prepared at the event will be tasted by a panel of judges. For this event, the judges are:

  • Leeza Gibbons, media personality, founder of The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation, and author of America's No. 1 book on caregiving, "Take Your Oxygen First;"
  • Shannon Miller, the Olympic medal winning gymnast. Miller is now president of Shannon Miller Lifestyle: Health and Fitness for Women, as well as an author, television personality, and host of Shannon Miller Lifestyle Radio. She founded the Shannon Miller Foundation dedicated to fighting childhood obesity and is Co-Chair of the Florida Governor's Council on Physical Fitness.
  • Fred Funk, professional golfer and winning member of the PGA tour. One of his many career highlight wins is the PGA Tour tournament in 2007, where he became only the second over-50 player to win on the PGA Tour in more than 30 years.
  • Jeremy Bloom, a three-time World Champion, two-time Olympian and eleven-time World Cup gold medalist snow skier. Bloom is the founder of the Wish of a Lifetime Foundation, which grants wishes to seniors.
  • And Marcel Davignon, resident of Freedom Pointe at the Villages and a lifelong member of the culinary arts. Some highlights include attending culinary classes at the American Culinary Institute in Hartford, Conn., military duties as a mess sergeant while in the army, a chef at various upscale restaurants, owned several restaurants, started a food brokerage company, and more. In retirement, wrote  a book, "Preparing Proper Fuel for the Body,"  designed and created food service for a hospice, designed cooking classes and more.

Attendees can join in the Ultimate Chef America event by gaining a close-up look at the competitors and the fast-paced competition. They will have the opportunity to ask the chefs questions, and taste culinary delights, including seafood soups and entrees, beef and pork tenderloin creations and more.

Attendees also will  have the opportunity to participate in various educational programs, including a seminar featuring Dr. O'Neil, on the topic of "Food for the Soul," a presentation which taps into the emotional dimension and gives attendees insight into issues such as whether optimism can lead to better health and research behind the mind-body connection; a wine tasting class featuring wines, some of which may be local; and a class presented by the Culinary Arts Institute at Brookdale: "The Art of Seasoning," which addresses sodium-free solutions for declining taste buds as one ages.

As an added bonus for this competition, it will be multi-city simulcast live via U-stream to local communities in the area, and to those communities which have a chef participating in the competition. The communities hosting a simulcast for residents, associates and loved ones are:

  • Freedom Pointe at the Villages in The Villages, Fla.
  • Westwood Retirement Resort in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
  • Bahia Oaks Lodge in Sarasota, Fla.
  • Freedom Plaza Sun City Center in Sun City Center, Fla.

To heighten the interest and activity of Ultimate Chef America, Brookdale has partnered with several national partners and sponsors to be included in a vendor expo. Attendees can interact with these vendors during the expo to gain answers, samples and more.

In addition, food inspired art created by residents of Brookdale Senior Living communities across the nation will be auctioned at the Ultimate Chef America event. Proceeds of this auction will go to The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation, an organization which elevates the national consciousness of caregiving and fosters a culture of healthy caregivers impacted by chronic illness through programming, universal access to resources, and behavioral research.

"Without a doubt, attendees and participants will achieve fulfillment in the dimensions of wellness," said Joska J.W. Hajdu, Senior Vice President of Dining Services for Brookdale Senior Living, and also an executive chef by trade. "The creativity, ability, and talent of our Dining Services associates will be showcased during this unique competition. Our chefs are masters at creating traditional, heart-healthy meals, and this competition will challenge peoples' notions on healthy food choices for seniors, educate them on healthy choices, and give them a purposeful activity through the auction all in a socially engaging environment."

A way of life offered exclusively by Brookdale Senior Living at its communities for residents and associates, Optimum Life® focuses on six key dimensions - emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual and purposeful.

Community tours will also be available, and participants will gain a first-hand view of the variety, styles and sizes of the private apartments and the community areas for socializing, dining and entertaining. Staff will be available to discuss living options, and visitors will learn more about the programs, outings and opportunities offered to residents.

National sponsors include Advanced Foods, E. Sam Jones and Sylvania, Direct Supply, Ecolab, Entegra, Fidelity Print, Gulf South, HD Supply, Nestle Professional, Rocky Mountain, Royal Cup, SCA, Shaw, Sherwin Williams, Simplex Grinnell, Snap Drape, Sysco, Terminix, Tyson, Vitality, Walgreens, World Kitchen, Corporate Imaging Concepts, and IKON.

The Ultimate Chef culinary competition is produced by the Culinary Arts Institute at Brookdale (CAI). The CAI at Brookdale is a professional development program designed to enhance the food preparation and presentation skills of Brookdale chefs. The dining and culinary arts team integrates hands-on training and classroom instructional materials that impart new food preparation skills and cutting edge techniques to enhance Brookdale residents' dining experiences. 

More information about Ultimate Chef America can be found at and

Contact: Holly Botsford, Public Relations Manager, 414-918-5314,

SOURCE Brookdale Senior Living