Justin Pearsall is passionate about creating an exceptional dining experience on campus.
New Providence, New Jersey -- (February 26, 2019) -- Lantern Hill, an Erickson Living developed and managed community in New Providence, New Jersey, has a new executive chef, and the word around town is he's imaginative and creative when it comes to food. Executive Chef Justin Pearsall juxtaposes elegant dishes like Chilean seabass and scallops against home-style meals like stuffed peppers and stews on the menus of Lantern Hill's two sit-down restaurants, Chef's Table and Tall Oaks.
"We can go as high end or as family friendly as you want," Pearsall says. "Because of where we're located, just outside of New York City, and the dining experience our residents expect, we offer a creative menu for a variety of tastes and preferences."
Thanks to his team of talented chefs and Lantern Hill's dining services model, Signature Dining, they can do just that.
"Signature Dining embraces fresh, made-to-order, resident-focused menu offerings, executed at the moment of service to deliver an exceptional dining experience," says Dining Services Director Jason Fernandi. "Signature Dining empowers our chefs to cook with more creativity and meet special dietary needs or requests of our residents."
With more and more people facing dietary restrictions such as gluten-sensitivity or those who choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, Pearsall says that, "because we cook from scratch, we have the ability to modify recipes in order to meet personal preferences with individual flavor profiles expanding our ability to meet individual needs."
When it comes to overall customer satisfaction, Pearsall places a high priority on the dining experience, and he goes straight to the source to find out how to continuously improve.
Resident dining committee chairman and former Scotch Plains Mayor Gabe Spera says that Pearsall has been a wonderful addition to the community. His committee meets regularly with Pearsall and Fernandi to relay fellow neighbors' comments and suggestions, criticism and praise.
The dining committee, which acts as a liaison between their neighbors and the dining team leadership, meets regularly with Pearsall and Fernandi to share comments, concerns, suggestions, and praise. That's where they make the real, meaningful changes. "Food is such a big part of family and community, and that's the biggest thing that we strive for. We want people to be out, to talk, to have quality meals that they can sit around and have conversations with family and friends and enrich their day. At the end of the day, food brings people together," says Pearsall.
Pearsall has been cooking for nearly 20 years. Like many chefs, he started off as a dishwasher and prep cook in traditional restaurants. That's where he first met Phil Maloney, now corporate executive chef and Director, Special Projects for Erickson Living, who helped Pearsall hone his culinary skills. He spent the majority of his career, 15 years, as a chef with another retirement community in Virginia Beach, Va.
When Pearsall was looking to advance in his career, he turned to his mentor. At Maloney's recommendation, Pearsall first joined the dining services team at Maris Grove, the Erickson Living developed and managed retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., then transferred to Lantern Hill last October when Chef's Table reopened after renovations.
"At Erickson Living, I saw the potential to advance," says Pearsall. "That's the biggest plus with Erickson for people in this business. It's growing at such a fast rate, the opportunity for advancement is almost always there if you do your job well. Also, you can enjoy a career where you can be of service to residents."
Pearsall says he gets the most satisfaction from building chefs, just as his mentor, Maloney, did for him. "The culture that's created here is a culture I want to work in. Erickson Living is very big on supporting and building their staff, promoting and training from within. Everything that Erickson does speaks about planning for the future. That's a big deal for people in this industry," Pearsall says.
For more information about career opportunities in senior living, please visit https://jobs.ericksonliving.com. Visitors can register for email alerts about job postings by field of expertise and location.
About Lantern Hill: Lantern Hill, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 26-acre campus in New Providence, New Jersey. The community is located in Union County and is home to 390 residents. Additional information about Lantern Hill can be found at LanternHillCommunity.com.