Both chefs and residents are delighted by restaurant service style and variety of menu options.
Tinton Falls, N.J. (February 18, 2019) Most people, especially chefs, move around from job to job before they find a long-term career home, but not Talib Mohammed. To him, Seabrook, a senior living community in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, developed and managed by Erickson Living, has always been his second home.
Like many culinary professionals, Mohammed started his career as a dishwasher. Little did he know that Seabrook provides tuition reimbursement for its employees to get their degrees and further their education. He took advantage of this program and attended culinary school at the Culinary Education Center of Monmouth County at Brookdale Community College.
"Seabrook worked with my schedule so I could continue working there while going to school. Once I graduated, I worked my way up within the system," Mohammed says.
Now 17 years later, Mohammed leads a team of culinary professionals as executive chef of the Princeton, one of three restaurants on campus.
And while he could have explored other career options within the culinary field, Mohammed says Seabrook's culture and its residents inspired him to be part of the community's leadership team.
"Everyone is so welcoming, the culture is nice, and it's just easy to come to work. Therefore, you enjoy what you're doing," he says.
He also had a clear career path. "The guidance I received from my managers helped me achieve my goal of becoming an executive chef," he says.
Now as executive chef, he's able to give career guidance to his team members.
"I think about all the people who have helped me along the way. I understand that it wasn't just me over 17 years; there were a lot of people who guided me throughout these years along my career path. I try to replicate the culture that I was raised in throughout my time here in this company," Mohammed says.
Dining Director Mary Beth Sheehan says that culture extends to each of the restaurants. "We have an extremely talented group of chefs led by Executive Chefs David Connelly, Talib Mohammed, and Donald Easton. The chefs and managers collaborate weekly to ensure consistency in our program, and share menus and culinary trends and techniques," she says.
The menus, she adds, are resident focused and feature fresh meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, as well as hormone- and antibiotic-free poultry and dairy foods.
"Resident focused means we incorporate many of their suggestions and value all of their feedback," Sheehan says. "We meet regularly with our residents and have a very involved and positive resident dining committee."
Joan Herbert, resident dining committee chair, acts as liaison between residents and the dining team leadership to share her fellow neighbors' wants and needs. Herbert moved to Seabrook seven years ago, so she has witnessed the change from batch cooking to Signature Dining, an initiative launched in 2016 to feature fresh, cooked-to-order entrees as one would find in a typical restaurant.
"Signature dining has gone over very well. Everybody seems to like the variety," Herbert says, noting many of the changes the dining program has seen in the past year or so. "Now the Tides Café serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They have a regular carving station for those who want to have dinner there. It's very popular. People just want to come in and pick out their own food and seat themselves."
"The Fireside is a sit-down restaurant with white tablecloths serving both lunch and dinner. A lot of people like that who prefer to have their main meal at noontime," says Herbert.
The Princeton, she says, has seen the most obvious changes. "It's a buffet, but we have one meal which is special from Monday through Saturday. Last week it was rack of lamb. This week shrimp and lobster salad on a New England hot dog roll. Everybody seems to be enjoying that a lot. Tuesdays we have a theme night. Last night was a winter BBQ in addition to our regular menu items. Next week we have a Hawaiian theme. Last week, we had an Irish theme."
Herbert says the combination of theme nights, Signature Dining, service styles—buffet, a la carte, place and serve, and action station—and three different restaurants provide variety and choice that her fellow neighbors appreciate.
"We have received a great response to our signature dining program and we will continue to listen to our residents and refine our program," Sheehan says. "We have a management and support staff that love what they do, and this is evident in the service provided."
That is certainly true for Talib Mohammed. "I love the team," he says. "It's a great place to work. It's been really great for me."
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 Seabrook: Seabrook, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 98-acre campus in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. The community is located in Monmouth County and is home to more than 1,400 residents. Additional information about Seabrook can be found at SeabrookCommunity.com.
Written by Julia Collins