New Arbour Trails initiative brings the restaurant to the residents
By Kristian Partington
A true chef is a combination of artist, magician and explorer seeking to create new excitement in the culinary experience based upon the knowledge they’ve gained and the theories they have yet to test. They’re always eager to please and they yearn to inspire those they serve through the creations they offer upon each plate.
The team in the kitchen at the Village of Arbour Trails is no different. They come from a range of backgrounds and hospitality director George Madelana says the new idea of the Chef’s Table experience is a way to encourage the chefs’ creativity while satisfying residents’ craving for an authentic restaurant experience.
“A lot of our residents, they’re having a hard time going out to restaurants,” George explains. “There’s only a select few in Guelph that are wheelchair accessible and meet the needs of our residents so what we did was take a little bit of The Ruby idea . . . and made this way of bringing the restaurant to the residents.”
The Ruby is a first-class restaurant on the 10th floor of The Village of Tansley Woods in Burlington that is open to the public and of course, regularly welcomes village residents and their guests for exquisite meals. A second sister restaurant is set to open at the newly expanded Village of Wentworth Heights.
George and the team at Arbour Trails decided they too could offer residents a fine-dining experience that showcases the talent in the kitchen and gives residents an opportunity to pamper themselves with a dinner out. It’s a new idea and for now, the team is feeling out exactly what the concept will look like. They want to keep the prices affordable and the food remarkable, so the first seating was an experiment they treated like a lottery; one they hope will also foster authentic relationships between residents and team members.
Team members bought raffles tickets and those who won the draw invited a resident to join them for the first Chef’s Table dinner. In all, ten guests enjoyed a quiet meal in the repurposed library, served by the chefs and marketing coordinator Phil Aubin.
“We have so much talent in our kitchen,” Phil says. “For them to be able to showcase their talent, they need an arena and a venue to do so.”
The Chef’s Table concept provides that opportunity and team members like Terrance Paul and Kevin Hughes and many others are eager to please.
“What never seems to disappear,” Phil adds, thinking about the older village residents, “is the love of fine culinary expertise and the love of dining with friends and loved ones over well-crafted dishes and wine.”
Both George and Phil hope the concept will expand and residents, family and neighbours from the surrounding community will take advantage of the skills in the kitchen and book regular seatings at the Chef’s Table, which will likely be offered twice a month as the chef’s volunteer time allows.
“We see great potential in this program, utilizing such extraordinary culinary skills that our chefs have to offer,” Phil says.