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Savoring the Season with Dining Services Director Jesse Crittendon

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“So what’s the food like here?” That’s one question folks always ask about The Village at Germantown, especially at this time of year. And no wonder. Hearty, nutritious fare that tastes great is paramount to living life to the fullest during the holidays and all year long.

We caught up with Jesse Crittendon, Director of Dining Services, and asked him to describe his vision for reimagining the dining experience at Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) like The Village.

Intergenerational Inspiration

Jesse’s journey to the helm of The Village’s dining staff has deep family roots. “My grandmother got me into cooking at a young age and by the time I was 13, I was working alongside her in the kitchen,” he explains. “Later, when Grandma needed assisted living care, I noticed that the food there lacked any sort of appeal. That’s what inspired me to challenge the conventional thinking about dining in senior living communities.”

Key to achieving that goal are the dedicated members of The Village’s dining committee, who plan everything from daily specials at the Monarch Dining Room to the popular Friday night bar buffets at the Polo Lounge & Grille. Jesse gives big props to Chef Roel Mesta. “Chef Roel has a kind of Southwestern flair to him, and he’s a wizard when it comes to responding to resident input. People can describe a dish they may have enjoyed somewhere else and he can recreate it out of thin air.”

Equally important to Jesse is making sure our residents in assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care also have access to first-class dining. Over the last 10 years, he supervised the addition of full kitchens to the assisted living, rehab and long-term care buildings. That way, the dining services staff can cook fresh food to order. “Three times each day, it’s our mission to offer food we’d be proud to serve to our own families,” Jesse says.

Home Cooking for the Holidays

It just wouldn’t be the holidays without an abundance of great food and festive treats. And here at The Village, the days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are overflowing with both.

“We have a quite a few social events packed into each day for folks in both independent and assisted living,” Jesse says. “The pop-up drink specials are particular favorites, and this year we featured maple bourbon in a glass rimmed with spiced pecans. It was amazing.”

When Christmas Day rolls around, residents can indulge in an elegant brunch, featuring a bounty of fruit and vegetable creations, egg dishes and sweet surprises. And at dinnertime, the Monarch Dining Room is packed with folks eager for a taste of Chef’s specials like sea bass with lobster risotto.

One of the most popular culinary traditions is “Home for the Holidays,” where residents can order chef-prepared side dishes—or even a full meal—to enjoy with visiting family members. Beef tenderloin, ham and turkey are just a few of the main courses available, along with a choice of southern side dishes and desserts. “Folks love it, because they can host their entire family in their apartment without wasting time cooking and cleaning. We had more than 60 orders this past Thanksgiving,” Jesse says.

So which holiday dishes are the biggest crowd pleasers? “Chef Roel prepares an authentic Kentucky pit ham that’s always a big hit, Jesse says. “And his featured dish is turkey that’s been brined for 48 hours. It’s one of the best turkeys you’ll ever eat.” Beef Wellington also appears on the menu right around New Year’s Eve, as well as a show-stopping eggnog cake. “I have to admit, it makes my mouth water too,” Jesse laughs.

Fresh, Festive and Healthy

Everyone wants to indulge during the holidays, but it’s also important to factor nutrition into the mix, particularly for residents with dietary restrictions. For Jesse, it’s all about choice. “We try to serve our Southern-fried and Yankee favorites alongside kales, lentils and vegetable-based proteins,” he explains. Our in-house dietician also does a great job educating residents about eating healthy without sacrificing fun. “If you really want that slice of cheesecake, you can maybe pass on the creamed corn that day,” Jesse says.

While the variety here is incomparable, every culinary creation has one thing in common: freshness. “Everything’s made in house, even to the point where we carve our own cuts of beef and salmon,” Jesse stresses. “Our coolers are large and our dry storage pantry is small. In fact, the only canned soup we have is cream of mushroom, because we need it to make a proper Southern green bean casserole.”

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From Our Kitchen to Yours: Carrot Soufflé

Whenever there’s a buffet at The Village, the carrot soufflé is one of the first dishes to go. This light, fluffy side is perfect for brunch, and can even be served as a dessert.

Jesse has included the recipe here, so you can make this sweet-and-savory specialty part of your holiday table.

Village Carrot Soufflé

Serves 4


1 ½ lbs Peeled carrots
½ c Sugar
¼ tsp Nutmeg
2 tbsp Flour
¼ tsp Baking powder
1 ½ tsp Vanilla
3 Eggs
¼ lb Butter
2 tbsp Powdered sugar


1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
2. Steam or boil the carrots until soft. Drain well.
3. While carrots are warm, add sugar, nutmeg, baking powder and vanilla.
4. Whip with mixer until smooth.
5. Add flour and mix well.
6. Whip eggs separately and add to mixture, blending well.
7. Add butter and blend well.
8. Pour mixture into baking dish. Make sure the dish is HALF FULL, as the soufflé will rise.
9. Bake at 350°F for about one hour or until the top is light brown.
10. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar before serving.

If all this talk about food has made you hungry to learn more about The Village at Germantown, we’d love to chat with you further—and even treat you to a meal at one of our popular dining venues. To schedule your visit, give us a call today at 901-737-4242.

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