It used to be that potato-crusted Alaskan halibut and steak dianne were items you would only find in a five-star restaurant, not at a senior living community. But Valle Verde’s new executive chef, Jamie West, is taking it up a notch at the continuing care retirement community in Santa Barbara, owned and managed by ABHOW.
These are just a sampling of the many fresh, new items he has incorporated into the menu to enhance the overall dining experience for Valle Verde residents. With the community’s flexible dining schedule, residents can now enjoy everything from gourmet three-course meals paired with wine, to casual dining, to meals delivered to their home.
“I’m looking forward to hearing feedback from our residents about the new meals my team and I have created,” West said. “My main objective is to please everyone’s palates and to make sure the residents leave full and satisfied.”
West has more than 30 years of culinary experience in fine dining venues across the country. Over this span of time, he served as executive chef at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, the Westward Look Resort in Tucson, Ariz., and the Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, Conn. Before working at Valle Verde, he was executive chef at San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara.
In 1994, he was voted “Chef of the Year” by the American Culinary Federation; in 2000 he was voted “Chef of the Year” for Southern California by the American Tasting Institute.
Among his many achievements, West presented a side-by-side cooking presentation in 2002 with Julia Child. They met in 1999, while he was working in Montecito. The best advice he ever received from her was to “look at the camera as if it were a good friend and that will help you relax and be more natural.” Her words of wisdom helped West retain his cooking segment on television for 2½ years.
In addition to creating à la carte and full-course meals, West works to recognize the importance of the community’s green initiatives.
According to West, Valle Verde is already a very eco-friendly community. In the dining area, they make an effort to recycle cardboard, aluminum and plastic, as well as use compostable containers, in order to decrease the amount of nonrecyclable material.
Valle Verde is the proud recipient of the Santa Barbara County Green Business certification, the Steven M. Garden Social Accountability Award and the International Council on Active Aging Green Award, to name just a few awards.
“Valle Verde’s residents and staff have been recognized as a green community for more than five years,” West said, “and I plan to continue with their efforts while doing what I love the most.”
West is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., with an associate’s degree in culinary arts, and Pima Community College in Tucson, where he studied restaurant, culinary and food management.
— Dani Row is a publicist representing Valle Verde.