WICKLIFFE, Ohio — The Tapestry Senior Living in Wickliffe will get their moment in the spotlight on the Travel Channel for something not typically celebrated, but rather dreaded in assisted living centers across the country: the food.
“When we sent out a letter to the Food Network about our unique program here and my background, we got a response back asking if we wanted to be featured on 'Food Quest,'" said Julia Soya, executive chef at the Tapestry Senior Living Center.
"Food Quest" is hosted by Mario and Courtney Lopez, which appears on the Food Network and The Travel Channel. While Mario won't be at The Tapestry, his production crew will be on location for the shooting of an episode. The air date of the episode is undetermined at this time.
The food coming out of the Chef Soya’s kitchen isn’t your typical "institutional-like" menu. Everything from the kitchen that goes onto the plate is made from scratch — that includes soup bases and salad dressing, and it’s constantly changing based on the seasons.
“What we are doing is at the forefront of food in the assisted living world,” Soya said.
Residents choose from a seasonal menu which rotates every three months. And there’s no set meal schedule here because residents can choose from options on three menus: breakfast, lunch and dinner, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Not only is the food served out of this kitchen is nontraditional, so too is Soya’s place as a chef in a kitchen of a retirement community. Working in kitchens of top restaurants across the country, Soya has worked for prestigious chefs like John Besh in New Orleans before coming to Northeast Ohio, where the weather is colder and food scene is even hotter.
Coming just off her one-year anniversary at The Tapestry, Soya jokingly said it took her to lead the kitchen at an assisted living facility to grab the attention of network TV.
“It’s funny actually because I get into this business after working for acclaimed restaurants and chefs, and I get attention with the food I’m cooking here," Soya said. "I feel like I missed my calling. I love making food for the residents.”
Soya said the sense of community is different than what she felt working in restaurants.
“When you’re working in a restaurant and the plates come back empty, you just assume that it’s good. When I cook here, I’m making a dish for someone who gives me feedback, I really embrace that aspect,” she said.