Justin Pagano is passionate about creating an extraordinary dining experience on campus.
Glen Mills, Pennsylvania (March 5, 2019) Le Cordon Bleu-trained Executive Chef Justin Pagano says the restaurants at Maris Grove, an Erickson Living developed and managed community in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, are as professionally managed and operated as any he's worked in throughout his career.
After graduating from Peter Kump's New York Cooking School, now called The Institute of Culinary Education, Pagano ran two restaurants at Peddler's Village, a historic shopping, dining, and lodging resort in Buck's County, Pennsylvania. He then led the banquet department at the Four Seasons, in Philadelphia, before owning a bistro-style café with corporate catering, called Cravings Café, in North Wales.
While he enjoyed flexing his entrepreneurial muscles, when a colleague "opened my eyes to the fact that [Erickson is] a scratch and a la carte kitchen that works with legitimately skilled and trained chefs," he saw an opportunity for greater career development opportunities and fulfillment.
That was ten years ago, and he's as excited about his career now as he was when he started with Maris Grove. Today, as executive chef overseeing Maris Grove's six restaurants, Pagano plans the menus, arranges theme nights, develops his team, and perhaps most importantly, constantly communicates with residents to listen to their needs and desires, concerns and comments.
"I feel one of the things that makes Maris Grove dining services stand out in the industry is the flexibility and the willingness to listen to our ideas and suggestions," says Jean Renzi, dining committee chairperson to the resident advisory council. "Dining services works in partnership with other residents and with me. They have been a great group to work with."
Pagano says his collaboration with community members like Renzi is vital to creating an exceptional dining experience. "Feedback from residents is really what it comes down to—that engagement and the relationships we build with our residents is essential. I can bring those positive stories or constructive criticism back to my staff to make them better," he says.
Because Maris Grove hires high school students for many of its dining services positions, Pagano has the opportunity to help those employees grow. "One of the unique things about what we do here at Maris Grove is being able to see an employee come in as young as 14 years old as a busser or runner and still be here ten years later as a line cook looking for a career in the culinary industry," he says.
Ten-year veteran Jarrett Carroll worked his way up from line cook to sous-chef to now executive chef of Maris Grove's Millstone Restaurant and Coburn Café.
"My team is ultra-important," Pagano says. "They are my left and right hand."
Aside from developing his culinary team, Pagano has also helped revolutionize the entire dining experience at Maris Grove. Within the past three years, Maris Grove and all of Erickson Living's communities, offers Signature Dining, which provides fresh, made-to-order, resident-focused menu offerings, executed at the moment of service to deliver an exceptional dining experience.
Signature Dining empowers chefs to cook with creativity and meet special dietary needs or requests of their diners.
"The diversity of the menu is huge. Having a diversity of dishes is a highlight for our residents," says Renzi, who owned a small fast food franchise.
"We want to create an extraordinary experience for each one of our team members, that, in turn translates to extraordinary experiences for our residents," says Dining Director Joseph Guidetti. "We are committed to a variety of menu options as well as differentiated service models. This provides our residents with the choice and unique experiences that meets their expectations."
For more information about career opportunities at Maris Grove, please visit https://jobs.ericksonliving.com. Visitors can register for email alerts about job postings by field of expertise and location.
About Maris Grove: Maris Grove, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 87-acre campus in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. The community is located in Delaware County and is home to more than 1,600 residents. Additional information about Maris Grove can be found at MarisGrove.com.
Written by Julia Collins