Tonya Garrido’s first introduction to skilled kitchens was as a waitress at a Greek restaurant. She was so enticed by the contemporary meals and cooking she needed to be taught extra. Going a step additional, she determined to attend culinary faculty at MATC. Even when she wasn’t certain she’d prepare dinner professionally, she figured she might change into a greater prepare dinner and feed her household.
20 years later and he or she’s nonetheless smitten with cooking and feeding others.
She’s labored her approach as much as government chef at Harwood Place Retirement Neighborhood, 8220 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa, serving to to construct a culinary program that differs enormously from when she began as a line prepare dinner 19 years in the past. Specializing in scratch cooking for residents on the retirement facility, she oversees almost 250 meals every day. Not solely does she have to handle completely different tastes and pursuits, cooking for an getting older inhabitants additionally means addressing dietary issues and the way a meals could also be ready or served. Garrido embraces all of it, and needs to unfold the phrase that there are alternatives for culinary careers outdoors eating places.
My mother was all the time prepare dinner. I ate, however I by no means acquired till I began waitressing. I discovered waitressing is like working your individual enterprise. The higher you’re, the extra money you make. I used to be working for a family-owned Greek restaurant. I needed to be taught each ingredient. …
Then I acquired married and had a toddler. I stop waitressing. Whereas I used to be house with my child, I’d stroll to the native Sentry. I’d purchase no matter produce. I’d come house and prepare dinner, prepare dinner, prepare dinner. If I’m going to do that, why not go to high school and be taught? Even when I by no means do that for cash, I’ll be taught.
I went to MATC. It was the best faculty expertise ever. It’s a utterly hands-on program …
I graduated, why not attempt to get a job? I labored at Style of Residence in Greendale within the take a look at kitchen. … Then I ended up coming to Harwood Place. They’d simply added assisted dwelling and had been increasing. We actually needed to construct the culinary program. … Ninety p.c of our meals right here is from scratch. It wasn’t all the time like that, however that’s the place it has landed.
Ranging from scratch
I do have a pair new cooks now. They’ve had some tradition shock right here. We’re really cooking. They had been doing steaming luggage, open a can of pie submitting and put it in a shell. … To see them studying and rising is basically thrilling.
Her Milwaukee mentors
I’m very fortunate proper now, my sous chef is Giuseppi, aka Joe Safina; he’s the son of the proprietor of Giovanni’s downtown, and his good good friend is Justin Aprahamian. For me, he’s a mentor. He has plans of his personal. We’re fortunate to have him proper now. …Then Justin Johnson from Sustainable Kitchens, I used to be his sous chef. He taught me an amazing deal about working with contemporary components.
Her house cooking
We eat much less processed. I don’t use a microwave oven in any respect. If I make one thing upfront it has to go on the stovetop or oven. My kitchen is small. I don’t need to surrender the countertop.
Each month we’ve a Vacation spot day. … Subsequent month is Dublin. We “go” to all these locations, Portugal, Canada, Japan, and create menus and provides them a whole day primarily based on the vacation spot.
Vacation spot desserts
I do attempt to give it a shot to make the desserts for the Vacation spot days. Am I an skilled? No, however the residents are good sports activities. This final one was Beijing. I placed on the menu a candied fruit, tanghulu. You are taking the fruit and dip it in a sugar water. … I used to be telling my daughter and he or she stated “Oh, I’ve made these.” It’s on TikTok!
They actually do love the German and Polish cooking right here, that’s lots of what their mothers and wives cooked. They like it after they see the issues they used to have after they had been youngsters. They love ice cream essentially the most, in all probability greater than something.
Each resident will get their very own birthday cake when it’s their day. We make little muffins, do-it-yourself from scratch. Then as soon as a month we have fun the month of birthdays, and we’ve cake for everyone. Each vacation we make one thing. We do bake every day.
We love summer season as a result of we develop our personal herbs. We’ll even infuse a vodka with them. We make Bloody Marys with a basil vodka. They love that. Final summer season we pickled beets and we bought them at our in-house farm market. We make our personal jams, blueberry, strawberry rhubarb. We used these in home and bought these.
What retains her going
I spend lots of time writing, researching and ordering, however I like to work the road. I really like making ready the meals to order and getting it on the plate so it seems spectacular. I actually love making meals for the staff, as a result of they’re additionally prospects. They get glad they usually go forth and make the residents glad. It’s a chain. Everyone loves meals.
I’ve labored with cooks who’ve are available and are filled with what they need to prepare dinner. “That is my menu and in case you don’t prefer it I don’t care.” It would not work that approach. We’re cooking for individuals who reside right here they usually should be glad. … I get the praise, “Tonya is aware of find out how to prepare dinner for outdated individuals.” Not everybody would take that as a praise. Do I need to make a vegetable tremendous al dente as a result of that’s what I really like? Certain, that’s how I’d eat it, however that’s not how I prepare dinner right here. We use braising a substantial amount of the time. We accommodate how they need it.
When she’s not cooking
My splurge can be we exit for sushi. We love Ginza, 2727 N. Mayfair Highway, Wauwatosa, and Screaming Tuna, 106 W. Seeboth, and Kanpai, 408 E. Chicago St. We additionally go to a Mexican restaurant, El Senorial, 1901 S. thirty first St.
Rethinking restaurant life
We give excursions to college students from WCTC. We speak in regards to the actuality of life versus working in a restaurant. We have now each different weekend off right here and we’re house by 7 p.m. We hate for individuals to assume this isn’t like actual cooking. It’s, and our high quality of life is so good right here.
Fork. Spoon. Life. explores the on a regular basis relationship that native notables (throughout the meals group and with out) have with meals. To recommend future personalities to profile, e-mail [email protected]
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This text initially appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Harwood Place, Wauwatosa, chef: Retirement group residents journey