Employee Spotlights

Chef Mike’s dream job

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Today we share a story from our Better Together series about a chef who found his missing, critical ingredient.

At Towner Crest in Oconomowoc, Wis., resident diners are simply “eating up” the talent of Chef Mike Mars, nutrition & culinary assistant director.

chef making omelettes

First it was his omelet station, generating a buzz among neighbors. Residents lined up for customized, made-to-order omelets while feasting their eyes on Mike’s cooking.
Then it was a build-your-own pasta station, followed by Chinese bar with fried rice and lo mein. Mike explains, “I realized I could do a lot of things I’ve done at banquets at hotels.”

But what he couldn’t do before that he can now is … build relationships. It was like finding the missing, critical ingredient for this talented chef with an outgoing personality.

Mike reflects on his recent career transition. “It’s very different, and in a very good way. It’s a lot more rewarding. In the hotel industry or in kitchens I’ve worked before, you don’t get the chance to interact a lot. You go out there for a second, and you say, ‘Thank you, nice to meet you, glad you enjoyed your dinner.’ But you don’t really have time to get to know people and engage.”

Best of all, residents benefit. Mike said, “I noticed that what regular diners want is camaraderie. They want more residents to come to the dining room.”

Thanks to his lively cooking stations, it’s “come one, come all!” as the dining room fills up, bubbling over with conversation between neighbors.
And when the party’s over, Mike looks forward to returning home to his family – just in time for dinner. His wife is a great cook, too. Kristin Mars is the nutrition & culinary services director at Dickson Hollow, a neighboring senior living community.

PHS residents eating dinner
Residents gobble up conversation and entrees from Chef Mike’s Chinese bar.

Mike says that both he and Kristin find purpose and joy while enjoying benefits of flexible scheduling, which allows for more family time – and mealtimes together.

Do you know someone looking for more purpose in their work? Share the good news and the many opportunities to join our team at www.preshomes.org/careers.

You might also be interested in:

Top 10 reasons to join culinary with Presbyterian Homes & Services
Doing things right from the start – a winning recipe for Towner Crest
A day in the life of a server
Learn more about culinary roles at Presbyterian Homes & Services

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