Residents enjoy uniquely personalized dining experiences at Novi retirement community
Novi, Mich. – Executive Chef Michael Bootz began his career at Fox Run more than 15 years ago. At age 19, he was working in the kitchen of a local restaurant when a friend who worked at Fox Run suggested Bootz check out the continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living.
Starting out as a prep cook, Bootz quickly worked his way up to lead cook at Fox Run. From there, he took advantage of Erickson Living's tuition assistance program to earn his degree from nearby Schoolcraft College, which offers a world-renowned program in Culinary Arts.
After graduating, he was promoted to the role of Executive Chef and since then, has worked in all of the different dining venues across Fox Run's bustling campus, including The Hunt Club Café, a lively café featuring hearty breakfast selections and delicious short-order favorites, salads, and deli wraps; the Jockey Pub, a casual hangout perfect for enjoying a burger and a beer; The Fireside, which offers delicious sit-down dinners as well as Sunday brunch; and now, Signatures, where Chef Bootz currently oversees a fabulous menu of pasta, steak and seafood entrees.
"We pride ourselves on making many of our foods from scratch, including soups and sauces," he says. "Our goal is to make sure that everyone enjoying a meal in our restaurants has the freshest, highest-quality ingredients."
Featuring an impressive selection, Fox Run's restaurant menus combine familiar favorites with regional specialties, plus weekly chef specials and seasonal dishes.
Bootz, who was born in Detroit and grew up in Wayne, Mich., loves to take advantage of Fox Run's proximity to the Great Lakes, often featuring freshwater fish on his menus. "We bring in a lot of fresh lake perch, walleye, and whitefish from Lake Huron and Lake Superior. Many residents especially enjoy these fresh seafood dishes since they've grown up eating them and serving them to their families—it's like a taste of home."
He also incorporates fresh local produce when in season, including Michigan cherries and delicious end-of-summer corn.
Using these fresh ingredients, the entire Fox Run culinary team works together to bring guests an extraordinary experience every time they dine in one of the four on-site restaurants. The community's Signature Dining commitment ensures that each dish is prepared at the moment of service and cooked to order with painstaking attention to detail and presentation.
To ensure that these high standards are consistently met, Chef Bootz and other dining leaders work closely with Fox Run's Resident Advisory Council Dining Committee, giving residents a valued voice.
Barbara Birmingham, one of Fox Run's pioneer residents, appreciates that Chef Bootz and his team truly listen to residents' needs. For Birmingham, navigating a restaurant menu can be challenging due to having dietary restrictions. Because everything at Fox Run is fresh and cooked to order, her meals can be adjusted to suit her specific needs and tastes at the moment of service.
"He is very accommodating, a very caring person," said Birmingham of Bootz. "He has always been the one to make sure that there is something delicious and healthy for me to eat. He really wants everybody to have a good experience in the dining room. He listens and treats everyone as if they are special."
It's high praise for Bootz, who says it's his goal every day to make those he serves feel listened to. "It's an honor to enrich people's lives through food, and I take that seriously. Seeing our dishes go out on a tray with food that is fresh, hot and beautifully garnished is very satisfying," he said.
Rob Miller, Director of Dining at Fox Run, says that Chef Bootz's leadership has enhanced the community's culinary offerings. "Mike has impressed our team with his commitment to our mission," he said. "His passion for creating delicious food and exceptional dining experiences for our residents comes through in everything he does, and we are grateful that he has chosen to share his gifts with our community."
Now, with a growing family of his own, Chef Bootz is especially grateful for the close-knit Fox Run community.
"I've known some of the residents, like Mrs. Birmingham, for 15 years. It's like they've become family," he said. "They have watched me grow up, graduate from college, and get married. I've watched their families grow and many times, helped to celebrate an important moment in their life. It's incredible to have the opportunity to make that kind of personal connection with hundreds of people."
Chef Bootz continues to build those connections by not only providing extraordinary dining experiences, but also by further developing the culinary talents of his passionate team. "We create some amazing meals, but nothing beats seeing a colleague start out as a dishwasher and work his way up to Sous Chef. At Fox Run, there is so much opportunity to grow your career while also having an impact on people's lives."
Those interested in pursuing a career at Fox Run can visit http://jobs.ericksonliving.com for information about current opportunities.
About Fox Run: Fox Run, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living, is situated on a scenic 108-acre campus in Novi, Michigan. The community is located in Oakland County and is home to nearly 1,300 residents who are supported by a team of more than 750 employees. Additional information about Fox Run can be found at FoxRunNovi.com.
Photo Caption: Executive Chef Mike Bootz has spent the last 15 years building his culinary career at Fox Run, where he leads the Signatures restaurant team in serving a variety of fresh menu offerings executed at the moment of service to provide guests with extraordinary dining experiences.
Photo Credit: Richard Coulter