Windsor Run’s award-winning dining

Culinary team successfully competes in Charlotte’s ninth annual Chef Wars

Created date

August 14th, 2019
Chef Patrick Yeager surrounded by both his culinary team and members of the Windsor Run staff and resident dining services committee celebrate their second place finish in the ninth annual Charlotte-area Chef Wars.

Chef Patrick Yeager surrounded by both his culinary team and members of the Windsor Run staff and resident dining services committee celebrate their second place finish in the ninth annual Charlotte-area Chef Wars.

Despite the rise in popularity of cooking programming and celebrity chefs, community members at Windsor Run, an Erickson Living community in Matthews, N.C., need not look farther than their own on-site restaurants to enjoy expertly crafted culinary creations.

“The food is wonderful,” says Sherry Herion, a member of the resident dining committee. “We are very fortunate to be blessed by the talents of our amazing chefs. They work hard to meet the wide variety of tastes in our community and do so in a caring and cooperative way.”

Windsor Run’s culinary team, including Executive Chef Patrick Yeager, Chef Christopher Zion, and Chef Derek Babinski, recently showcased both their skills and the enviable options available to residents on a daily basis by competing in the ninth annual Chef Wars. The competition is sponsored by Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte, a nonprofit organization that connects learning programs and services to support and enrich the lives of older adults. 

The event, held at Myers Park Presbyterian Church, brings together talented culinary professionals from continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) throughout the region to compete in both entrée and dessert competitions. The highly anticipated and popular event serves as a fundraiser for the Shepherd’s Center. 

“Windsor Run’s participation assisted with fundraising for this important organization,” says community member Maureen Hlvaceck, a member of the community’s dining services committee. “And with many seniors and senior service organizations from our local community in attendance, the competition provided guests with more information about living in a CCRC. Quality of meals is a major consideration for people as they consider their senior living options.”

This year more than 300 people attended the fundraiser, enjoying an afternoon of exceptional cuisine and fellowship.

Communitywide effort

Choosing to compete in the entrée round, Chef Yeager and his team asked Windsor Run community members and staff to taste test their dish, a sous vide pork tenderloin with sweet potato puree and a port and blackberry sauce, topped with lightly dressed seasonal greens. 

“In the weeks leading up to the competition we offered the dish as one of our evening specials, allowing us to perfect our sauce and plate presentation,” says Chef Yeager. “It is a meal that is typical of those that our residents enjoy on a daily basis.”

Each day community members enjoy 25 different menu options as well as a number of chef specials offered at three distinct dining venues; The Grove, a restaurant featuring a menu of pasta, beef, poultry, and seafood selections; The Woodside Café with its short-order favorites like juicy burgers, fresh salads, and deli-style wraps; and Tavern 1879, a casual bar and bistro.

Let the competition begin

On the day of the competition, Chef Yeager and his team were joined by members of the Windsor Run’s resident dining services committee as well as staff.

“It was the part of the day that I enjoyed the most,” says Chef Yeager. “Seeing our residents in attendance, enjoying themselves and bragging about my incredibly talented team was very special.”

The Windsor Run team prepared their entrée using ingredients sourced from local farms showcasing the Carolinas.

“I believe that it is important for us as chefs to embrace local ingredients and cuisine,” explains Chef Yeager. “It is what our community members expect and what we wanted to showcase to the local community.”

For example, the chefs seasoned the entrée’s sweet potato puree with local honey and sourced the greens from a farm in Shelby, N.C. 

“The farmer delivered the greens to us in the parking lot minutes before Chef Wars began,” says Chef Yeager. “You can’t beat that when it comes to freshness. At that point, all we had to do was dress them with a light citrus vinaigrette.”

In addition to the fresh greens and sweet potato puree, the Windsor Run team prepared a Berkshire Farms pork tenderloin that had been brined for 24 hours. Once brined, it was seasoned with fresh herbs and vacuum sealed in bags to be sous vide. After the slow cook, the pork was then removed from the sous vide bags and seared in hot oil.

The chefs then created a port and blackberry aigre-doux finished with a pear infused vinegar.

And the winner is…

After the votes were tallied, the Windsor Run team earned second place in the best entrée category. 

“We were all very excited our team of Windsor Run chefs created an award-winning entrée,” says Maureen. “Of course, we all believed they should have gotten first place! Being fortunate enough to attend this event, I sampled the submissions by the competitors and it was clear our chefs’ entry was outstanding. The commitment to a quality dining program reaffirms to residents that we made the best decision when selecting Windsor Run as our retirement community.”

“We thank our residents for their encouragement,” says William Bremer, Windsor Run’s director of dining services. “Many of them noted the quality of the entrées we serve every night exceeded some of the dishes presented by other competitors. Chef Wars was a wonderful opportunity for others in attendance to see the standards that have become the norm from this talented group of culinarians at Windsor Run, and representative throughout Erickson Living as a whole.”