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Tallgrass Creek warms up on a ‘chili’ day

Teamwork stirs up recipe for success

Created date

April 7th, 2017
Tallgrass Creek’s employee chili cook-off included resident life team members Jan Magee (left) and Cydney Cunningham dishing up their chicken chili to resident Ginny Caldwell.

Tallgrass Creek’s employee chili cook-off included resident life team members Jan Magee (left) and Cydney Cunningham dishing up their chicken chili to resident Ginny Caldwell.

Tallgrass Creek residents follow their noses to the Cottonwood activities room where ten staff members each stand behind their department’s simmering crock pot of homemade chili. It’s the annual employee chili cook-off, and the competition is fierce and fragrant. 

As deciding voters, residents and staff members alike taste all ten, then vote for their favorite.

Tough competition

“It was so interesting to taste and compare these delicious pots of chili,” says Betty Jury who, along with husband John, moved to the community in 2015. “It was very difficult to determine which was my favorite.” 

Tallgrass Creek’s Erickson Living Values team sponsors the cook off. Along with Erickson Living, the developer and manager of Tallgrass Creek, the Values Team celebrates the positive life traits of Erickson Living values: respect and caring, diversity, friendliness and enthusiasm, integrity, responsibility, excellence, and teamwork. The chili cook-off honors the spirit of teamwork. 

“Great chili requires good ingredients that all work together,” says Cara Freed, assisted living manager at Tallgrass Creek’s on-site continuing care neighborhood. “We think that symbolizes the teamwork and camaraderie we strive for at Tallgrass Creek every day.”

Best of the best

The pots of chili were as unique as the many different departments that serve Tallgrass Creek neighbors. Whether it was the touch of cinnamon in team administration’s chili, the three kinds of peppers in team assisted living’s chili, or team resident life’s white chicken chili (cleverly called “tax time chili because you won’t pay later”), each crock pot was full of mouthwatering flavor.

But after much chili tasting with add-ons of Fritos, cheese, and sour cream, the votes were counted, and one team emerged victorious: team security. Security Manager Matt Edmunds created the chili with a secret ingredient, caramelized onions.

Second place honors went to team nursing with its signature chili that includes mac and cheese. Wellness Manager Meghan Edmunds, part of team nursing, is actually married to Edmunds. They traded some good-natured competition and teasing.  

Third place honors went to team maintenance’s meaty “maintenance-free chili” made by HVAC technician Kody Brockman. 

“We enjoy this competition every year,” says Anita Winter, Tallgrass Creek’s communications manager, who oversees the values team and its activities. “It is such fun, and the response from both staff and residents is always very positive.”  

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