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Cooking with Jan

New cooking show brings culinary delights to Brooksby TV

Created date

September 20th, 2016
Jan Guilbault hosts the cooking show Food for Fun, airing on Brooksby TV, from her apartment at the Peabody, Mass., Erickson Living community.

Jan Guilbault hosts the cooking show Food for Fun, airing on Brooksby TV, from her apartment at the Peabody, Mass., Erickson Living community.

When Jan Guilbault moved to Brooksby Village in October 2004, she was happy to turn over the responsibility of daily meal preparation to the community’s culinary team.

“Everyday cooking is not my favorite thing,” says Jan. “I like to make fancy dishes and show off a little.”

While she was raising her three children, Jan says, she was in the kitchen daily.

“I’ve always loved to cook, but I didn’t particularly enjoy fixing dinner every night,” she says. “It was much more fun to host parties.”

The family home in Natick was a hub of social activity. Summer get-togethers by the pool and dinner parties were regular occurrences.

“I don’t think two weeks went by without a party,” says Jan. “We loved to entertain.”

Now Jan shares her favorite recipes on a new cooking show, Food for Fun, airing on Brooksby TV, the community’s in-house television network.

“We filmed our first episode in January 2015, just in time for Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix,” says Jan. “We chose Mexican food for the theme, and I made a seven-layer dip and cowboy caviar.”

Jan is the on-air personality. Brooksby resident Barbara Powers produces the show while TV Coordinator Lauren Alicandro directs. Residents Bob Croft and Cliff Kent operate the cameras.

“I was so nervous when we filmed the first episode,” says Jan. “Then I started pretending I was showing my children how to make a recipe, and it flowed from there.”

Brooksby apartment sets the stage 

On camera, Jan is warm and engaging, inviting viewers into her Brooksby kitchen.

“I considered the idea of a cooking show several years ago,” says Jan. “At the time, Brooksby’s television equipment was too large to film in my apartment. Now the cameras are smaller and more portable, so it’s feasible to film right in my own kitchen.”

When Jan was researching continuing care retirement communities online, Brooksby Village caught her eye.

“This was the first community I visited, and I joined the priority list after my first visit,” she says.“Liberty Place [residence building] was still under construction, and I reserved an apartment on the top floor. The first time I walked into my new apartment, I could see the treetops from my windows. I thought, ‘Look at that view.’”

Jan’s two-bedroom, two-bath, Lancaster-style apartment is cozy and inviting, with an abundance of natural light that spills into the open living and dining area.

“I brought my dining room set to Brooksby because I wanted to entertain,” says Jan. “I host three to four dinner parties a year in my apartment.”

Now, through her cooking show, Jan entertains more guests than ever. 

“The show has been very well received,” says Jan. “I have people stop in the hall to tell me they tried one of my recipes.”

Hors d’oeuvres and desserts

Since Brooksby residents don’t have the responsibility of everyday meal preparation, Jan decided to feature hors d’oeuvres and desserts on the show, with a few luncheon items thrown in for good measure.

“I choose the recipes and head over to Trader Joe’s or Shaw’s to buy the ingredients,” says Jan. “If there’s a lot of prep work, like chopping vegetables, I’ll do that before we start filming. It takes about an hour and a half to film one episode.”

In the second episode, which aired in June 2015, Jan made her favorite hors d’oeuvres—asparagus and prosciutto bundles, smoked salmon and cream cheese cucumber bites, and a curry cream cheese spread. For the third episode, she turned the spotlight on desserts, making a flourless chocolate cake and a French torte, both “simple but impressive” recipes.

Generations cooking together

Jan’s 11-year-old granddaughter Caroline MacKinnon joined her for the show’s fourth episode.

“Caroline chose the recipes—stovetop macaroni and cheese and an omelette roll,” says Jan. “It was great fun to film a segment with her.”

Jan’s love of fancy food is trickling down to the younger generations. The omelette roll recipe called for ham, tomatoes, and onions. Caroline wanted to change those toppings to chicken-apple sausage, mushrooms, asparagus, and smoked Gouda cheese.

“She has a good understanding of foods that work together,” says Jan, pride evident in her voice.

What’s next?

Jan digs into her trove of treasured recipes as she plans for upcoming episodes.

“I’ve got a recipe for a fabulous blueberry pie and another one for a tart lemon pie,” says Jan. “I think those are up next.”

Jan Guilbault’s flourless chocolate cake


Butter (for the pan)

Cocoa powder (for the pan)

10 oz dark chocolate (60% cocoa or higher)

9 Tbsp unsalted butter

4 eggs

½ cup sugar


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with cocoa powder. In the top of a double boiler, the bottom filled with hot, not boiling, water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring periodically until fully melted. Remove top pan and let chocolate mixture cool slightly. 

In an electric mixer, beat eggs until pale and double in size. Gradually beat in sugar. Remove bowl from mixer and fold chocolate into egg mixture until fully incorporated.

Pour batter into springform pan and bake in a 325-degree oven for 25 minutes or until edge of cake is firm. The cake should be soft and creamy in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Open springform pan and let cake cool completely. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.