Steve Grabkowski cooks for 'family' at Ingersoll Place

Being able to choose what one eats is a tough right to give up, and when moving into an assisted living community, it might be a terrifying prospect but at Ingersoll Place, an assisted living community, head chef Steve Grabkowski takes pride in his cooking and wants residents to be satisfied at every meal.

I know their allergies, their likes, their dislikes - Wednesdays 'Suzie Q' doesn't like mashed potatoes, for example," said Grabkowski.

He said residents regularly ask him how he knows so much about their nutritional requests and needs.

"It's because they're part of my family. I'm cooking for them on a regular basis. I'm going to learn their likes and dislikes," said Grabkowski, who sits down with each resident and their families when they arrive to get to know them and receive their input about what will make them most comfortable nutritionally and what they would like to see on the menu.

"[I try to use] their recipes, if possible, so that it feels more personal," said Grabkowski, who tries this about twice a month.

Grabkowski has 25 years in the food industry.

"When I prepare food, whether it's here or at home, it's a passion " it definitely has to do with passion and creativity and what you can do with fresh ingredients and fresh herbs to give out the best robust flavor and freshness in your food," said Grabkowski.

"If you take pride in your work, whatever field you're in wills how in the world you perform," said Grabkowski.

His job is made complicated because many of his residents have special dietary restrictions " but he never sacrifices taste or quality to meet the needs of his residents.

"Mainly it's more your deserts that I have to watch out for," said Grabkowski, who tries to make all of his dishes with lean cuts of meat and low-fat, low-sodium basses.

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