As the regional director of culinary service for Atria Senior Living communities, Ben Morrow’s job is to create tantalizing menus and mouth-watering dishes for Atria residents in Texas and Kansas.
For Morrow, breaking into the culinary business wasn’t easy. It required begging in his early years.
“I started in restaurants when I was very young and found I liked what was happening in the kitchen, so I went and found a local chef in Houston at a restaurant called Chez Nous,” Morrow said. “I liked what he was doing, so I went there and begged at the back door and said I’d do anything.”
He washed dishes and peeled potatoes for a year.
Fast forward a few years and Morrow works with the directors of culinary service to provide high-end cuisine, cutting-edge training and restaurant-style menus for residents in Atria Senior Living communities, including Houston-area locations in Cypresswood, Sugar Land, Kingwood and Westchase.
At each location, Morrow said, the menus rarely reflect one another.
“Down in Sugar Land, the chef there, Mike Brown, is the only one (in the Atria culinary communities) with the Wash Day Cobbler,” said Morrow. “He is also very good at incorporating residents’ recipes from the past to his menu. He also takes a very holistic approach to his menu.
“We ask our chefs to talk to the residents to see what that particular group of residents want.”
Morrow said while the audience he is cooking and creating for is different than at a typical restaurant, he still has industry standards and dietary values to uphold.
“We do have extra dietary guidelines that we have to meet, and that’s actually an ongoing challenge for us,” Morrow said. “Some states have very stringent guidelines in that each and every menu has to be overseen by a registered dietitian.” We, as a company, work very closely with a registered dietitian to make sure our residents are getting what they need from a dietary perspective.
“We work very hard with a lot of local chefs ... because they understand what works in a local market.”
NAME: Ben Morrow
OCCUPATION: Atria Senior Living’s regional director of culinary service
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: Morrow works hand-in-hand with the director of culinary service at Atria Sugar Land Senior Living
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