Executive Chef Enhances Dining at Gladwin Pines and Stratford Village
|Executive Chef Jeff Murray performs a cooking demonstration and taste-testing event for the residents and patients at MidMichigan Stratford Village.
Meal times at MidMichigan Stratford Village and MidMichigan MidMichigan Gladwin Pines are now fine dining experiences with new tastes, enticing flavors and appealing plates led by Executive Chef, Jeff Murray. Chef Murray joined the two MidMichigan facilities in December 2012.
He brings a rich background in culinary arts to MidMichigan Stratford and Gladwin Pines. While at Oakland Community College Culinary School, where he graduated, Murray was the only contestant to place in a professional cooking competition as a student. He won a silver medal while competing against some of Detroit’s most celebrated chefs.
Murray always knew he wanted to be a chef. His mother and grandmother influenced his love of baking, and Murray is an accomplished pastry chef, as well as an expert in classical cuisine and ethnic foods. Murray studied under some of Detroit’s finest master chefs while working at the WhitneyRestaurant and other establishments, and he later became the Chef de Cuisine at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Murray researches local produce to add flair into his creations, using such fresh produce as spinach, asparagus and strawberries bought from local farmers. He also creates visually appealing meals that are nutritionally appropriate for many medical conditions that residents may be managing, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Chef Murray recently entertained residents and patients in a cooking exhibition and taste-test at the two facilities. At MidMichiganStratfordVillage, he prepared butternut squash soup, pretzel and mustard crusted chicken breasts, meatloaf “cupcakes” frosted with mashed potatoes, cod and shrimp cakes and a cream-filled angel food cake roll, while entertaining the audience with the stove-side manner of a seasoned television host. In between cooking tips, Murray took suggestions from residents regarding the kinds of foods they would like him to incorporate into the menu at StratfordVillage. In a similar demonstration at MidMichigan Gladwin Pines, which shares a cafeteria with MidMichigan Medical Center-Gladwin, Murray dazzled residents and patients with his ethnic cooking skills. He also treated the staff to a live cooking demonstration and taste test of General Tso’s chicken in the employee cafeteria.
“It represents a major culture change for us,” said Chris Chesny, president of MidMichigan’s Gladwin Pines and StratfordVillage. “Our chef is hosting cooking demonstrations in the dining rooms of our nursing homes. Everybody’s loving it—the staff, our residents. It’s increased the quality of their lives tremendously.”
Chesny credits Karla Spaeth, facilities and events director at NorthwoodUniversity, as being instrumental in the transformation of food service at MidMichigan’s Gladwin Pines and StratfordVillage, calling the transformation “culinary health.”
Spaeth, who was recently appointed facilities and events director at NorthwoodUniversity and has taught in its hospitality program for more than nine years, served as consultant to help MidMichigan improve this aspect of the quality of life for residents. Despite efforts by MidMichigan officials to recognize and reward her work financially, Spaeth demurred on the grounds that her efforts are part of her service to her community.
“I simply wanted to give back,” remarked Spaeth. “Food is about so much more than filling our hunger. It’s about knowing how to use what you have more intelligently to prepare meals that are tasty, healthy and enjoyable.”
Murray will continue conducting interactive exhibitions as he experiments with recipes that residents and patients enjoy. He is developing the skills of dining staff, training them in the classical techniques of the culinary arts. “Dining is an important social activity for us all. It brings joy to me personally and professionally when I can create a fine dining experience for our residents and patients,” Murray said. “I’m getting to know them and look forward to meeting their culinary needs in an even more personalized way.”
Those who would like more information about the long term care or short term rehabilitation options available at MidMichigan Gladwin Pines or MidMichigan Stratford Village may visit MidMichigan Stratford Village at 2121 Rockwell Drive in Midland or call MidMichigan Stratford Village (989) 633-5350.