Cooking at Revera: Behind the Scenes with Chef Jeff Law
What is your favourite childhood memory involving food, or a special meal?
My fondest memory is when my father was forced to learn how to cook for us. This one time he wanted to make chili, so he got everything prepared, put it into the crock pot, turned it on and went to work. I’m not sure what happened but by the time he served it, it should have been called soup. To this day, my sister and I called it “Ocean Chili,” because it was so watery. He’s a good sport about it though.
What was your first culinary job, and how did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in this field?
My first culinary job was working as a short order cook in Fergus, ON at an ice cream shop called the Dairy Dip. We made hamburgers, hotdogs, fries and of course soft serve ice cream but it wasn’t till later that I realized I wanted a career in this field.
When I moved to my next job at a small Italian restaurant in Elora called Basha’s, I met my mentor Jerry who helped me focus and pursue a culinary career.
What makes food and cooking special to you?
I love how creative it is. Designing menus and recipes and seeing them come to life is special, particularly when it is enjoyed by others. It makes you feel like a rock star!
What do you enjoy about cooking at Granite Landing?
The residents here are amazing and make coming to work easy! I have the freedom within the framework to cook different foods on a regular basis. Most chefs have to cook the same food day in and day out and I get to do something different every day.
What is your go-to recipe to impress your residents?
My residents are wonderful and they know their stuff too. When I need to impress, prime rib or shellfish is always a winner.
What is the best compliment you have received about your food from a resident?
Before COVID-19 one particular couple would invite their whole family to dine at Granite Landing instead of going out to eat. The group was always around 20 people and although the guests would say how lovely the food was the best part was seeing how it brought the family together.
When are you happiest at work?
When I’m cooking! From time to time I like to host sampling events and prepare foods that aren’t normally featured on our menus which is a real highlight for me.
What do you wish more people knew about a career in the senior living sector?
Cooking for a retirement residence is more fulfilling than working in a fine dining restaurant. In fine dining you are always cooking someone else’s recipes and do the same things everyday. In retirement homes, you get to cook a huge variety of food and develop your own recipes.
What have you learned from your residents?
Throw away your preconceptions of what residents like. Every person has had a different journey to get where they are today. Some have eaten like queens and kings and others have only ever eaten homemade meals. When I first started, I wanted to deliver something different and unique all the time but that wasn’t what the residents wanted. After all, we cook for the residents not ourselves. Sometimes that means a simple tuna salad sandwich and other times it means a perfectly prepared osso bucco with creamy polenta. Both meals are just as important to my residents.
Learn more about our residence experiences here.
Your CARP membership entitles you to a $2,000 Move-In Bonus when signing a new lease with Revera Retirement Living.