Celebrating life through food

Italian chef brings much more than international experience to the table

Created date

April 29th, 2019
Giovanni Carlo, executive chef at Greenspring’s Woodland Skies restaurant, enjoys the deep bonds he has with the residents. “Every day, I feel like I am at home cooking with my grandparents,” he says.

Giovanni Carlo, executive chef at Greenspring’s Woodland Skies restaurant, enjoys the deep bonds he has with the residents. “Every day, I feel like I am at home cooking with my grandparents,” he says.

Virginia Woolf once remarked, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Dining well, both in taste and nutrition, is an important hallmark of living at an Erickson Living community.

At Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., a team of the finest culinary experts provide delicious and healthy food options as part of an industry-leading Signature Dining experience.

Giovanni Carlo, executive chef at Greenspring’s Woodland Skies restaurant, exemplifies the talent and commitment behind the community’s dining program. An Italian-born chef with international work experience at a variety of world-class establishments, Giovanni strives to meet and exceed the dining expectations of each community member.

“Dining at Greenspring is different from anywhere else because not only is creativity encouraged but menus are also specifically tailored based on the input we receive from our residents,” says Carlo. “We are one big family. Nearly every day I am stopped by a resident or family member who tells me how much it means to them to be a part of Greenspring, and how much they love the food I cook for them.”

Distinguished career

Raised in Castelvenere, Italy, a small town near Naples, Carlo developed a passion for food at a young age. As a teenager, he attended Piedimonte Culinary School in Caserta.

“At 16, I began apprenticing for world-renowned chef Gualtiero Marchesi at his namesake restaurant, a three-star Michelin establishment in Italy,” he says.

Two years later, Carlo was leading the kitchens at Pavarotti and Friends restaurants in London, where he began experimenting with flavors and developing a culinary style of his own.

Shortly after turning 21, Carlo moved to the U.S. and began his American culinary career as a sous chef at Laboratorio del Galileo restaurant in Washington, D.C. He later worked as chef de cuisine at Assaggi Restaurant in Bethesda before accepting an executive chef position at Panache Restaurant in Tyson’s Corner.

Looking for change

With a wife and two young daughters at home, Carlo found it increasingly difficult to maintain the work-life balance he desired while working at these highly acclaimed, fine dining establishments.

“I researched Greenspring and liked what I learned,” he says. “I would be able to work with talented chefs, utilize fresh ingredients, and continue my culinary education, while at the same time meeting my need for more family time.”

Since beginning work at Greenspring a year ago, Carlo discovered additional benefits he never expected from his new position.

“In the other restaurants I worked at I did not know the guests on a personal level,” he says. “They would come to eat and then leave. It’s very different at Greenspring. The residents have become a second family to me. Every day, I feel like I am at home cooking with my grandparents. We share stories and connect over food. It brings back wonderful memories for me of my life in Italy.”

Betty Griffin, chair of the Resident Council’s dining committee, immediately recognized the impact of Carlo’s arrival.

“Chef Giovanni has introduced some very nice, new dishes to the menu at Woodland Skies,” she says. “He is very personable. I often see him outside the kitchen connecting with the residents.”

Team player

Carlo’s coworkers also appreciate his influence on the dining services program at Greenspring.

“Chef Giovanni is respectful and caring of his team members,” says Greenspring Director of Dining Services Tyshan Wilson. “He is friendly and enthusiastic both with his team members and residents. Like the entire culinary team, he has a true passion for dining and providing the dining experience our residents deserve and expect.”

As a team, all of Greenspring’s talented chefs make it their number one priority to create healthy, delicious dishes that meet residents’ unique needs. All Greenspring restaurants have adopted Signature Dining—preparing meals as they are ordered, allowing the chefs to better meet the dietary restrictions and food preferences of community members.

“The dining services team at Greenspring is wonderful to work with,” says Carlo. “Everything is done from the heart, and everyone puts their souls into the dishes they create.”

Signature Dining also provides Carlo and his fellow chefs numerous opportunities for creativity based on their own culinary experiences while taking comments and feedback from community members into consideration.

“We enjoy lots of choices every day, and the menus change every month,” says Betty. “All residents are encouraged to fill out comment cards, which are valued by the staff and help them meet our needs.”

Looking forward to his second year at Greenspring, Carlo appreciates the new opportunities and experiences his job provides.

“As a chef, I truly enjoy the opportunity each day to share my gifts that celebrate life through food,” he says. “There is nothing better than seeing a resident eat, laugh, and enjoy a meal with family or friends. That is a gift I truly treasure and one I take great pride in.”