Dynamic Duo Keeps Culinary Services at The Hearth at Drexel on the Cutting Edge
March 8, 2023
Hattie and Donald delight residents on a daily basis at The Hearth at Drexel assisted living and memory care community in Bala Cynwyd, PA, with their combined fifty-six years of culinary expertise and dedication to service. They work as a team and share their passion for preparing food for discriminating residents, and they relish bringing smiles to the faces of those who enjoy their scrumptious food.
“Hattie and Donald pour their hearts and souls into every meal they prepare for our residents. Their dedication to meeting our residents’ varied and discerning tastes is evident in each beautifully prepared and delicious meal,” says Dana Guyton, Executive Director of The Hearth.
Making Residents Happy
When asked how she started cooking professionally at The Hearth, Hattie explains, “Well, I have been preparing meals for the lovely residents at The Hearth for the last eight years. I retired after twenty-four years of working full-time as part of the culinary team at Artman Senior Living Community in Ambler, PA, an associated community to The Hearth. I started working there in Dining Services thirty-two years ago, and one day, a supervisor asked me if I could cook, so I nervously said, ‘yes’ and jumped right in. From then on, I was hooked. I love cooking food that makes the residents happy.”
She continues, “After I retired from the Artman Senior Community, I got called to come to work here part-time when Chef Donald’s wife had a baby; as a new father, he needed some time off. We knew one another because Donald had also worked at Artman prior to becoming the Chef at The Hearth. As soon as I walked in the door, I felt at home. I love coming to work here due to the warm, caring, family atmosphere. Everyone is so compassionate and friendly that I did not want to be retired, even after Donald returned to work.”
Hattie and Donald work as a synchronized team, with Hattie working on Donald’s days off. Each one helps the other by preparing the kitchen and the ingredients for the next day’s menu.
Donald agrees that The Hearth is a special place to work. He explains, “There is a uniquely supportive family environment here. The residents enjoy it when we prepare special meals for events or holidays. And they regularly express their appreciation for our making delicious food as part of the daily dining experience. Their appreciation motivates us to keep creating new dishes and serving their favorite menu items that make them smile. They know we care about them and what they like to eat.”
Both Donald and Hattie started cooking at a young age for their families. Donald claims, “I started cooking as a youngster, experimenting with different flavors and ingredients to impress my family. We come from Jamaica, so I love cooking food that combines herbs and spices from there and other cultures.” He adds, “My twin brother is also a Chef, so we kind of compete with one another, trying to see who can create the most interesting dishes, and that spurs us on to both keep growing and learning.”
When Donald is asked what kind of meals residents at The Hearth most enjoy, he says,
“Generally speaking, dishes involving chicken or beef, but we like to mix it up every week with fish, serving salmon, crab, or flounder as other healthy options.”
He adds, “For a holiday like Saint Patrick’s Day, however, I like preparing traditional favorites, like Corned Beef and Cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie, or a hearty Beef and Guinness Stew.”
Corned Beef Recipe for St. Patrick’s Day serving 6-8
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons whole coriander
1 ½ tablespoons whole mustard seeds
1 ½ tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 ½ tablespoons whole allspice
4 sprigs fresh marjoram
4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1(2 ½ to 3 pound brisket)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, halved
6 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 head celery including leaves, coarsely chopped
2 head garlic, halved
3 sprigs fresh marjoram
2 small cabbage cut into 6 to 8 wedges
Herbed Root vegetable, recipe follows
Herbed Root Vegetables
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed
1 pound baby carrots, trimmed and scrubbed
1 pound baby turnips, trimmed and scrubbed
1 pound baby parsnips, trimmed and scrubbed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ pound unsalted butter, softened
½ cup mixed chopped fresh herbs like thyme, mint, chives, parsley, or chervil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Combine all the brine ingredients, except the brisket, in a large non-reactive bowl. Add the brisket (you may have to cut it into two pieces) and rub the spice mix into the meat. Pour cold water over until the meat is covered. Weight the brisket down with a small plate so that it is completely submerged; cover and refrigerate. The meat can be brined overnight or as long as 10 days. The longer the brining, the more pickled the meat.
- Heat the oven to 300 degrees
- Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, marjoram, and bay leaves and cook until starting to soften, about 10 minutes. Remove the meat from the brine and rinse it well. Set the meat on top of the vegetables and add water to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil skimming any foam that surfaces. Reduce the heat to a simmer, place the lid on the pot, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the cabbage pieces, cover, and put it into the over; cook for 3 hours.
- Remove the meat, cover it with foil, and let it rest for 20 minutes. Cut the fat off the corned beef, slice the meat against the grain, and serve it in shallow bowls with the cabbage wedges, some cooking liquid, and the Herbed Root Vegetables.
- Put the olive oil and butter into a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and toss to coat the well with the fat; season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the Herb Butter by combing the soft butter and herbs together; season with some salt and pepper.
- To serve, spread some Herb Butter in the bottom of a bowl. Add the hot vegetables and dot with more Herb Butter. Moisten with some of the cooking liquid and serve.
Hattie and Donald share a common sentiment, “Just knowing that we bring joy to the residents’ lives by the meals we serve warms our hearts.”