Seasoned Chef Dishing up Nutritious Meals for Seniors at Waltonwood Lake Boone
RALEIGH, NC–A tender steak in a savory mushroom sauce with potatoes and steamed asparagus, grilled salmon with seasonal vegetables or cheese ravioli with mushrooms and sautéed kale. Those items are just a taste of the delicious meals residents at Waltonwood Lake Boone will enjoy when the senior living community opens its doors this summer.
The mastermind behind the delectable dishes is Culinary Services Manager Bryan Minton. The former military chef has 15 years of experience in the food industry and is looking forward to elevating residents’ taste buds through his cooking. Minton’s passion for cooking started at a young age, and that’s why he turned it into a career. He loves creating community through food and using the freshest ingredients possible to produce unique dishes. With March being National Nutrition Month, Minton says creating a well-balanced diet is key to staying healthy at any age.
“I’ve always loved food, and the different ways you could put food together really interested me as a kid,” said Minton. “Now I am able to take something I am passionate about and make a difference in the lives of seniors by providing nutritious meals without having to give up taste. The definition of healthy eating does change as you age. Seniors need to make sure they eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients they need.
“A healthy meal should include lean protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Foods need to be high in fiber, low in sodium and should contain Vitamin D since it’s an important mineral to have as we age,” Minton added. “I tell people their plate should look like a rainbow. Bright colored foods are always the best choice. Seniors metabolism also changes, so the best thing to do is have small snacks during the day to make sure it stays regulated. Another important thing for seniors is hydration. They need to drink small amounts of fluids consistently throughout the day. These tips will help seniors live better.”
Minton graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and started his journey as a food service supervisor at the college. He moved on to become a chef at a North Carolina restaurant where he first learned the importance of fresh and local ingredients. From there, he went overseas to Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan where he served U.S. troops and saw firsthand how food created a sense of community. He embraced other cultures’ traditions and incorporated them into traditional American dishes. Minton says it was an honor cooking for the troops and making food that helped them connect to home.
When he returned from overseas, he landed in Kentucky and took the role as district chef with Sodexo, a French food services company, and served students at Centre College. He gained an appreciation for local butchers and farmers and ensured all ingredients were homegrown. When he settled down and started a family, he came back to his home state of North Carolina and accepted the position with Waltonwood Lake Boone. While this is his first time serving seniors, he plans to take his experience as a military chef and create meals that spark memories for residents.
“I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve had in the food industry, but I am really excited to serve seniors at Waltonwood Lake Boone,” Minton said. “It feels like I am giving back again, and that’s a great feeling. I want to get to know all the residents and learn their preferences. I will listen to their needs and incorporate their family meals and traditions into our menus. It’s exciting that Waltonwood Lake Boone wants high caliber foods for the residents to enjoy. It shows they care.”
Most of the food served at the community will be from scratch and local. There will be three different menus and an everyday menu with different foods to help satisfy residents’ pallets. One menu is dietitian approved and offers low-sodium, low-carb and low-fat meals. The second is a southern menu, featuring items like chicken, potatoes and meatloaf. Lastly, the community will have a menu that changes monthly and will feature fresh items, including fish, vegetables, chicken, depending on the season. If residents are looking for something different, the community has an Italian-themed bistro, which features sandwiches, salads, fresh pastas and pizza.
“Bryan brings years of experience in the food industry to this new role, and we couldn’t think of a better person to lead our food services department,” said Allison O’Shea, executive director at Waltonwood Lake Boone. “His approach to dining and serving fresh, local ingredients is exactly what we were looking for at the community. We have the residents’ best interests in mind. I know the residents will not only enjoy his food but also enjoy his company.”