The Art of Creating Fresh Tastes

Judson Senior Living executive chefs share a passion for preparing seasonal, healthy fare that’s rich in flavor and caters to members’ favorites.

Dining is an experience at Judson’s campuses, where dedicated executive chefs develop creative, ever-changing menus that incorporate healthy choices, comfort foods, decadent dishes, and seasonal produce. Mealtime is a pleasure for residents to look forward to when they gather, socialize, and enjoy chef-inspired offerings that rival the city’s top-rated restaurants.

Meet the chefs behind the menus.

Memorable Meals with Executive Chef Mark Gallo, Judson Park

Preparing gourmet fare for sophisticated gatherings, formal weddings, and private parties laid the groundwork for Mark Gallo’s career as a chef. “I learned most of my skills at Marigold Catering—they have some of the best chefs in Cleveland—and every day, I would put my cutting board down next to one of them and learn while I was prepping,” he shares. Gallo helped cater the Republican National Convention (RNC) in 2016 and cooked for the 2019 Coca-Cola All-Star Game. “From parties of 400 people to wedding tastings and major events, we did it all,” he says, relating that during his time. Mark joined Judson Manor three years ago as a sous chef. Shortly after, he transferred to Judson Park as Executive Chef, a role he holds today—and finds to be the most rewarding of his career. “It’s very fulfilling to create a nice experience for residents because they look forward to dining,” he says. “Creating delicious, healthy dishes makes them happy, and that makes me happy.” Gallo loves getting to know residents and carves out time to sit and enjoy conversations, asking them what meals they’d like him to prepare. He cultivates a menu centered on fresh, local foods and favorite meals. Sometimes, this means comfort foods like casseroles or beef stroganoff. “I like to include home-style dishes their families have made for years,” he says. He also rounds the menu with gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free options to accommodate various dietary needs and preferences. “I like being creative with dishes because food is art,” he adds.Mark’s secret adheres to his “triple P standard. That is practice, pride, and passion—you need to have all three,” he says. “You have to practice cooking, bring a passion for the work, and take pride in everything you do.”

Always In Season with Executive Chef Lanny Gullion, Judson Manor

Farm-to-fork is a way of life for Lanny Gullion, executive chef at Judson Manor. At home, he grows about 400 pounds of asparagus annually in addition to many other vegetables, including sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, and garlic, to name a few. Five dozen free-range chickens roam the property and produce organic brown eggs. His 5½-acre rural plot is ripe with gardens that feed his inspiration as a chef. “When I write the menu, I include seasonal vegetables—and I love getting feedback from residents on what they’d like served,” he says.

Gullion attended culinary school at the Lorain County Joint Vocational School, and after working in Italian and Irish restaurants, he moved into preparing meals for older adults. That was 20 years ago, and his commitment to bringing creative, fresh, and healthy meals to residents is a point of pride. At Judson Manor, Gullion visits with “the breakfast club” several days a week—an informal gathering of residents who share coffee in the mornings. “I like to spend a few minutes with them, and they tell me what’s going on at the Manor, and I listen to their ideas,” he says. Some of Gullion’s signature dishes include a double-smoked hickory chicken with barbecue sauce, Hungarian stuffed peppers with sausage and marinara, and Seafood St. Jacques. This decadent yet nutritious dish is Chef Gullion spin on Coquilles Saint Jacques, in which he incorporates scallops, shrimp, and crab with Dutchess potatoes. “I enjoy cooking Chicken Marsala, Chicken Piccata, and Stuffed Scampi,” he says. “Overall, cooking at Judson Manor is just so rewarding.”

Inspired Dining with Executive Chef Chris Koshar, South Franklin Circle

Chris Koshar practically grew up cooking for community members close to South Franklin Circle. He was the chef at a privately owned Italian restaurant in Bainbridge for years. Many of the residents he prepared meals for today were guests who enjoyed his authentic menu and congenial personality. “At the end of the day, this is their kitchen,” he says of his open-door policy, inviting residents to share ideas and offer feedback on menu items. “I tell them, ‘Stop me in the hall, and send me an email, just call. If you want something on the menu, we will find a way to offer it.” ”What Koshar enjoys most about his executive chef role at South Franklin Circle is the relationships he builds with residents. “It’s different than cooking for a public restaurant because you see residents daily, and you get to know them,” he relates. Koshar likes to offer a twist on classic dishes, calling his philosophy “fresh and seasonal.” “I like to work with fresh produce that is local because I think that just delivers a better-finished product, and it’s also fun,” he says, adding that there are ramps on the property. Those are spring onions—wild leeks. “For a short period of time, we can forage the ground for ramps, and I have included them on pizza as a topping and made ramp butter for fish dishes,” he says. When peaches were in season, Koshar prepared a pork dish with peach brûlée. “Residents deserve more than the same menu day in and day out,” he says. So, Koshar changes it weekly. “There is demand for heart-healthy and low-sodium foods, so I always have at least one dish that falls under that category. Not only do they request high-end foods like veal, lobster, and filet, they also ask for comfort foods, so I include meals geared toward that but with flair.” So, Koshar might prepare a portobello sauce, grilled asparagus, and meatloaf made from hand-produced ground beef tenderloin rather than mashed potatoes, peas, and meatloaf. “It’s like butter. It’s so tender,” he says. Along with serving inspirational dishes that fulfill residents’ desire for variety, Koshar empowers his kitchen staff to push their culinary boundaries and constantly hone their skills. “I want them to know how important their work is, and it’s so much more than putting food on a plate,” he says. “At Judson, they find a career, and they really feel like they are helping residents.”

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