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From elegant evenings to a bistro burger

Quality, choice, and style define Erickson dining

Created date

May 31st, 2010

Fine linen table cloths, white flowers, classic china everything was just right as the elegantly attired guests entered the intimate dining room for the evening s meal: A fabulous, six-course dinner that included such delicacies as oysters on the half shell, filet mignon Lili, and peaches in chartreuse gel e. [caption id="attachment_12002" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Erickson chefs face off in their own Iron Chef competitions, with delicious results. (File photo)"]Charlestown community with the legendary RMS Titanic. Vinson Bankoski, director of dining services at Charlestown, worked with chef David Haskins to offer residents a taste of the world-class dining experience the Titanic was known for. Bankoski says reservations quickly filled up and diners enjoyed the fine cuisine, wine, and ambience of the sophisticated party. Charlestown is one of 19 Erickson-managed communities across the country, and this special Evening with the Chef is just one example of the many unique dining experiences offered at all of them. There are clambakes at Linden Ponds and lobster dinners at Brooksby Village, both in Massachusetts. In the Denver, Colo., area, Windcrest hosts a special dinner featuring wild game. Each day, Erickson communities serve about 30,000 meals (that s 11 million meals a year!). Despite the company s large national footprint, the dining options are customized to suit the preferences of each individual community. As Rob Bobbitt, vice president of operations/dining services for Erickson, puts it, While there might be crab cakes on the menu at Charlestown or Riderwood in Maryland, Eagle s Trace in West Houston may be serving gulf shrimp because that s what they prefer in Texas. We really tailor the menus to what each community likes. Erickson has 69 different dining venues spread out among its campuses. There are cafes, full-service restaurants, buffets, pub bistros, and 29 retail marketplaces and stores. There s also a lot to choose from when it comes to the food itself. Every day there are choices on the menus that are healthy, but there are also the tried and true comfort foods that everyone likes, says Bobbitt. And the communities are very attuned to the nutritional quality of all the food they serve. Efforts are being made to remove trans fat from the menus; Bobbitt says they have already eliminated all of the added salt from just about every recipe. The challenge, he says, is to take the salt out but maintain the flavor. Beyond options, the key ingredient to Erickson dining is the talent of the chefs des cuisine and executive chefs who run the 52 kitchens across the country. Cooking, if you re good at it, you do it from your heart, says Wayne Knowles, Erickson s corporate executive chef. The one thing that everybody always raves about is our soup. We don t buy any soups that are pre-made and there s something to be said for the quality of a slowly steeped soup that s been cooking all day long. The depth of talent among the chefs des cuisine is highlighted when communities host their own Iron Chef competition. Here, chefs compete as they take on the challenge of producing a spectacular meal within a limited time frame. Just like the TV program, they must include a mystery ingredient revealed just before the competition begins. While each competition declares a winner, it s clear that the real winners are the residents who get to enjoy the delicious creations their chefs de cuisine create for them every day of the year.