Chef Tre Wilcox, a two-time James Beard Award nominee and “Top Chef” and “Iron Chef America” alum, will take on an advisory role at Edgemere Senior Living, where he will provide guidance and training to the community’s executive chef and culinary team. Chef Wilcox will advise and collaborate with the Edgemere culinary team in steering the development of recipes, signature dishes, plating concepts, and menus.
In the fall of 2020, Edgemere staff identified a unique opportunity to enhance and elevate the culinary program at their community. It became apparent that a mentorship/partnership program “could have strong potential in a retirement community setting and Edgemere would be a fertile garden to pilot and grow such a program,” says Tanner Thorp, Regional Culinary Director. Chef Wilcox will work one on one with Executive Chef Armando Can-Cen, the pair will participate in resident town halls and food committee meetings to gather feedback and recommendations from residents in addition to hosting cooking demonstrations from time to time.
Thorp explains that they didn’t just want a short-term partnership, but something that would last. “What we really wanted,” he says, “was to partner with a local, highly regarded, and established chef who had the culinary prowess to command respect, mentor, enact change, and create enduring growth within our culinary team. After conversations with many local chefs, we found an incredible partner who shared our vision in Chef Tre Wilcox. Chef Wilcox’s dedication to excellence, his noted accomplishments in the culinary field, and his humble approach lend exceptional credence to his ability to teach and mentor our culinary team and we are very excited to watch as his expertise influences our culinary program long-term.”
Chef Wilcox started his culinary career as a young teenager cleaning chicken in a fast- food restaurant, which he explains is where he discovered his love for food. His goal in collaborating with Edgemere is to not only to assist them in acquiring new skillsets, but to also provide support to hone-in on the skills they have already mastered. Edgemere’s culinary team is focused on providing exceptional dining experience to their residents, and is confident that Chef Wilcox’s ideas, flavors, and guidance will further accomplish their mission.
The residents’ well-being is at the core of this exciting new culinary partnership. Bridgette Walshe, Executive Director, says, “the residents are the ones who get to enjoy our food, so it makes sense for them to have a voice as well. The partnership is truly a collaborative undertaking, and having residents involved will only ensure its success in elevating our culinary program.” COVID-19 has brought on various challenges in regard to dining in senior living, but Edgemere hopes that Chef Wilcox’s presence will spark excitement and engagement within their communities and bring joy back to mealtimes.
“In my 29-year career, I’ve developed a strong love for teaching,” said Wilcox, who will dedicate 40 hours each month to the Edgemere partnership. “The unique opportunity to provide mentorship at a senior living community piqued my interest, and I’m eager to see what the response will be from seniors. In my experience, people nowadays are more open to global foods and trying new things, so there’s great potential in what we can achieve from this partnership.”