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New face in the kitchen

Eagle’s Trace welcomes Shae Mukadam, director of dining services

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May 21st, 2013

Even with 1,000 acres to roam, Shae Mukadam didn t care for outdoor pursuits. I grew up on a farm in Maysville, Okla., says Mukadam, the new director of dining services at Eagle s Trace. My brothers loved working outside with my dad, but I preferred to help my mother in the kitchen. Mukadam used a recipe from a Betty Crocker cookbook to bake his first loaf of bread when he was eight. It was such a satisfying feeling to cook for my family, he says. I felt like it was my way to contribute. Still, practicality trumped preference when it came to choosing a college and degree program. My aunt had connections at the University of California, Berkeley, says Mukadam. I was awarded a scholarship, so I moved West.

Finding his way

Mukadam graduated with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and began an internship with IBM. It didn t take him long to figure out he wasn t on the right career track. I didn t want to be a widget, says Mukadam. I needed to be around people. Mukadam went to work as a director of environmental services for the Marriott Corporation. Marriott Management Services had a large presence in hospitals, says Mukadam. I worked with the ancillary services, including housekeeping and maintenance, in several locations across Texas. After three years in his new position, the Marriott Corporation gave Mukadam the opportunity to pursue a long-held dream. The company sent him to the Culinary School of America, in Hyde Park, N.Y. I went to culinary school so that I could serve as a manager in both food and environmental services, says Mukadam. But when I came back to Marriott, I leaned more toward the food and nutrition side of things.

Catching the vision

Mukadam, who estimates that he s made more than 21 million meals over the course of his career, says working in hospital settings gave him a unique understanding of food service. I realized that you have to consider four factors: diet, taste, selection, and service, he says. Every piece of the puzzle has to come together at the right moment to provide a hot, high-quality meal. Mukadam went on to work as the director of culinary services for Vanguard Resources, in Greenville and Bellaire, where he earned his food handlers certification. He also taught a bulk-cooking course at Le Cordon Bleu, in Dallas. When Mukadam first learned about Erickson Living, he recognized it as a company that shared his passion for quality and service. Erickson Living has done a wonderful job of anticipating the needs of the up-and-coming senior population and providing those services and amenities at each community, he says.

Open conversation

Mukadam, whose first day at Eagle s Trace was February 11, 2013, says the community s more than 500 residents are quickly becoming like family to him. One of the best parts of my day is walking through the restaurant and visiting with the people who live here, says Mukadam. I find out what they like, what they don t like, and I learn more about them as individuals. In response to resident feedback, Mukadam has already made changes. The Garden Room Restaurant now offers a nightly omelet and Belgian waffle bar, and the Eagle s Roost Caf has cobblers on the menu at lunchtime. As I get to know the residents even better, I want to give them what they want before they ask for it, says Mukadam.

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