Advancing Dining in Retirement Living – Chef Rodrigo Prado

Chef Rodrigo Prado has been advancing the culinary experience in retirement living. He’s taken dining from unappetising hospital style to a ‘fine dining’ experience which includes organic local produce, compassion and community.

Chef Rodrigo shares his journey and mission with us…

The Establishment

The Waterford is a high-end private retirement living accommodation in South Delta (Greater Vancouver area), part of the Bria Communities. We have around 120 residents on the independent side and more 36 residents in the total care side. We serve three meals a day (continental breakfast, lunch and dinner) and our goal is to implement a ‘cruise ship style’ service for the residents offering a great variety of dining options for the residents.

Dining Experience

“All private retirement livings in North America follow the same model for dining service, 3 meals, continental breakfast and 4 to 6 weeks rotate menu for the lunch and dinner, using a lot of ready to go products following kind of hospital style service. When I joined the Bria Communities and became the Executive Chef of The Waterford, I saw a great opportunity to change the way this business works. The company was really looking to move forward and adapt from a hospital model to a high-end hospitality model.

The first think we did was change the mindset of the staff to an ‘always say yes mind set’. That way if the residents don’t like the options on the menu, they can order an alternative.

Then we started to develop programs that focus not just on the meals, but also on the flavor profile of people over 65 years of age.

Farm to Table Program

We are blessed as the accommodation is next door to a farm that was looking to collaborate with us. Earthwise farm is a 100% organic non-profit farm that promotes the organic and local consumption mindset on the community.

We develop the menu together, that way we always get the best of the season and respect the environment. It’s perfect. The residents have amazing produce in their meals, we have created jobs in the community and we are helping protect the environment.

Overall, we focus a lot on the quality of the products that we deliver for the residents; we use triple A beef, from Alberta, non-hormone Canadian chicken and Ocean Wise fish.

Discovering Purpose

My first culinary experience was at Walt Disney World. I learnt that what makes it such successful and incredible place was the staff members. They are really committed to delivering the best for the guests, they understand how important the time spent there is to the guests and they do everything possible to create a magical experience. This is how I think about food, and the dining experience I want to deliver.

In retirement living, meal times are the most important part of the day for the residents. It is the time when they socialize. I respect that I`m working in their homes. I have a great opportunity to make people happy with my food. We aspire to create a dining experience for residents that combines fine cuisine with satisfying comfort food. It’s our goal to make food that brings back fond memories and creates exciting new ones. We cook to nourish not just the bellies, but the body, the brain, the heart and the soul. Our service makes every meal a highlight and gives each resident the feeling of being recognised and valued.

Dining Culture

I believe fine dining is not a menu or a product. It is a state of mind. Its how I get my product, how I develop a relationship with my supplier and how develop a community. Fine dining is the love we infuse in our cooking; the care we serve and the effort that we put in every day improve our work environment.

Our team are very proud and satisfied; they are performing beyond expectations. The residents appreciate the love and respect they get from the team.

And More….

Our residents love brewed and espresso coffee. So we’ve developed a coffee program with the Vancouver Finest Coffee. We’ve developed a signature blend of coffee that focuses on the flavor profile of our age category. The final product is our Bria.

We also host BBQs, brunch buffets, and special holiday feasts through the seasons.  Residents are also invited to the join a Chef’s Exclusive Dinner each month—a five-course dining and wine pairing experience.