Bloomfield HillsFebruary 19, 2013
Farmington chef raises the bar for delectable meals at retirement community
By Robin Ruehlen
C & G Staff Writer
BLOOMFIELD HILLS — For those who think cooking at an assisted living facility most likely involves the usual bland, cafeteria-style fare, chef Travis Ringler wants you to think again.
Ringler, the 29-year-old executive chef at the Bloomfield Hills Maple Village retirement community, was recently given his second People’s Choice Award for his creative recipes and flair for whipping up decadently tasty, high-end restaurant-style meals for the residents.
His dish, a Sicilian duck roulade with red wine Alfredo, took the top honor at the American Culinary Federation’s Professional Chefs’ Hot Food Competition, which was held at Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth during Snowfest 2013 last month. In 2010, Ringler won his first People’s Choice Award for his teriyaki mesquite brisket with pineapple flair, along with being named the Red Meat Gold Winner.
Ringler, a Farmington Hills resident, said he didn’t always know that he wanted to be a chef. He got his start in food service by washing dishes and went on to earn his culinary arts degree at Mott Community College. He has worked at Maple Village since 2005.
Maple Village is a program of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, and provides both assisted living and independent living services for seniors. Although breakfast and lunch service varies depending on each individual’s options, Ringler provides full dinner service for all residents every evening.
What does he enjoy the most about his position at Maple Village? The challenge of making 100 people happy with his dinner recipes each day.
“They come to me with requests and comments, good and bad,” said Ringler, who admitted that, although he himself loves spicy food, he has had to tone down some recipes for his residents.
“I can’t do a lot of that here, but I also like to make soups and sauces,” he said.
Maple Village Director Suzanne Brasseur said in a statement that the Village is proud of Ringler and his accomplishments.
“To have an award-winning chef on staff is an honor,” she said.
“Residents love Travis and his meals, so we are happy he was able to share his talents with those outside of our community.
In addition to the Sicilian duck roulade dish, Ringler said his residents enjoy his barbecue ribs, briskets, pistachio-crusted salmon and tilapia with pineapple salsa, and Italian-style pork chops.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, you work for a retirement home?’ and they think it’s just macaroni and cheese and meatloaf,” he said.
“They don’t understand that we do really good food. We have better food than you can get in a restaurant. This is a far cry from normal institutional cooking.”