Wit and Wisdom Blog for Atria Senior Living

      Wit and Wisdom      

a new view on growing older

A rewarding place to work

Posted on April 1, 2021 by Admin

The members of our culinary team – no matter which level they have risen to in the department – have brought their talents to Atria for different reasons. For Chad Welch, Executive Chef of Culinary Operations, one of the draws to Atria was the opportunity to keep expanding his culinary skill set.

Quality work-life balance

“A chef at Atria has the chance to learn different cuisine – what quahogs are in Massachusetts, or what a Hot Brown is in Kentucky, or what a Louie salad is in California,” Welch said. “All of our chefs have the ability to share input on the menus we create.”

Other chefs come to Atria because the culinary department affords them a quality work-life balance. Christopher Lyons, Divisional Director of Culinary Services, remembers shifts in the restaurant world where he’d stay past 11 pm only to be back in the kitchen again before 9 the next morning. At Atria, Lyons found a chance to work with talented chefs and servers, but also to maintain reasonable hours.

“I saw an opportunity with senior living to find a good work-family balance,” Lyons stated. “This is the perfect way to stay in the culinary world and also watch your kids grow up.”

Lyons discovered a much calmer working environment at Atria than what he was used to in the restaurant industry.

“If you’ve been in the restaurant business, you know that there’s always a fight between the front of the house and the back of the house. That doesn’t happen at Atria. Everyone here works as a team.”

Camaraderie and community

Those dynamics of camaraderie and community extend to the relationship that the culinary teams have with the residents, as well.

“Cooking is from the heart,” Linda Petrillo, Divisional Director of Culinary Services, exclaimed. “When I train people, one of the things I always say is, ‘Remember this: You are cooking in the residents’ kitchen and dining room.’ It’s that personal.”

One member of Petrillo’s culinary team is Marie Anthony, who is a part of the waitstaff at Atria Riverdale in New York.

“I love helping the residents,” Anthony stated. “You get to know them on a personal level – what they’re doing, what’s going on in their lives – because you serve them breakfast, lunch and dinner. You see them frequently, so you make a lot of friends with them.”

Asked if she would rather be at a freestanding restaurant, Anthony said she prefers Atria because the dining experience feels more friendly than frantic.

“It’s different than a restaurant, where you just go there and leave,” she explained. “Residents will sometimes sit and chat with their neighbors and staff for two or three hours. So you feel more at home, and it makes you want to come back to work every day. You wouldn’t want to miss that, because you put a smile on the residents’ faces. That makes your day go by with joy on your face.”

Lyons echoed a similar sentiment: “It’s really like a family here,” he said. “There’s no place quite like family that I’ve seen anywhere else, and I would say that for the residents, the waitstaff and the cooks. We treat everyone as a family member.”

Keeping the Atria family safe

Because the well-being of residents and employees is Atria’s highest priority, we are providing the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone in our communities. Welch received his shot in December, and according to him, it’s changed his life.

“My wife and I can actually go to restaurants and be around each other and feel comfortable,” he said. “And in our communities, our employees deserve to be vaccinated and deserve to be in a safe space with other vaccinated folks.”

Anthony was hesitant about being vaccinated at first, but now she’s glad that she received the vaccine.

“It’s going to benefit you in the long run,” Anthony declared. “It gives you a clear mind, so you don’t have to worry about traveling. I think it’s for the best that you take it. You’ll be safe.”


Learn more about what makes Atria the best place to work and explore current open positions at AtriaCareers.com.

Category: Community, Culinary, Our Team, The Atria Kitchen, Wit & Wisdom

Connecting Safely through Culinary Experiences

Posted on August 7, 2020 by Admin

As we have been carefully reopening our senior living communities over the past few months, Atria’s Culinary and Engage Life events teams have delivered thoughtful, hospitality-driven experiences for residents, adapted to the times in which we’re all living.

 Safety first, then fun

Chad Welch, Atria’s Executive Chef of Culinary Operations, used to recommend ways for community culinary staff to display a buffet, cheese board or fruit platter for residents to enjoy together as a group. These days, however, he provides recommendations for rethinking some of the basic concepts of resident dining options.

“We’ve been really creative with how we’re delivering food,” he said. One of the ways Atria has offered a safe and enjoyable experience is by visiting residents door to door with themed, decorated culinary carts with individual portions for safety. A farmer’s market cart, complete with terracotta planters filled with hummus, might arrive at their doorstep one day. Another day, they might be treated to a summer barbecue-themed spread of smoked ribs and slaw. Staff have even delivered pizza in boxes personalized with good-natured jokes like “You’re so cheesy!” and other special hellos.

During these cautionary times, staff also take residents’ temperatures, wheel hydration carts door to door, and bring residents mobile happy hours like Margarita Monday or Wimbledon Wednesday with cocktails and strawberries.

“We have carts for just about everything – one of my favorites is a ‘Positivi-Tea’ cart that shares tea and uplifting thoughts on meditation and wellness with our residents,” said Shannon Wilson, Atria’s Manager of Engage Life Operations. “They’re a way to make mealtime more of an event, a surprise to look forward to.”

People belong together

One of Atria’s core values is that people belong together – and food can help cultivate that sense of belonging.

The challenge these days is to help residents feel connected at a time when they must socially distance and can’t go out and enjoy their favorite local places. That’s why we vary community menus regionally and seasonally. We may serve stuffed quahogs in Falmouth, Massachusetts, at the same time we’re serving Crab Louie in San Mateo, California, or green chili in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“Having your meals delivered to you, while a bit of a luxury, can be monotonous at times, so this is a way to offer programs to residents throughout the day that makes the delivery a community-wide event,” Wilson said. “We value our residents so much and we want them to stay engaged and connected through their culinary experiences.”


To learn more about how Atria Senior Living is helping residents and families stay connected, visit AtriaSafeTogether.com.


Category: Community, COVID-19, The Atria Kitchen, Wit & Wisdom

Superfood Recipe Salmon

Keep your ticker in tip-top shape with superfoods

Posted on February 12, 2018 by Admin

February is American Heart Month, when the American Heart Association pulls out all the stops to encourage you to lead a healthy lifestyle and make smart food choices. One way to do that is to include superfoods in your diet, which are especially important as we age. Superfoods are rich in nutrients, help thwart age-related diseases and conditions, and improve your mood.


Category: The Atria Kitchen Tags: , , ,

What Would Ed Eat – Atria Senior Living Blog

What Would Ed Eat?

Posted on April 25, 2017 by Admin

“You’ve gotta get serious about it and decide what you want your life to be, what kind of quality of life you want to have.”

Ed Herider is not a personal trainer or life coach – he is a 79-year-old resident at Atria Canyon Creek in Plano, Texas. A year ago, he needed medication to manage his type 2 diabetes. He decided he was carrying too much weight and set a goal to get healthier. Today, he is 47 pounds lighter, he is off the medication (with his doctor’s blessing), and he has dedicated himself to helping others improve their health through lifestyle changes.

Ed is a founding member of his community’s Better This Year Club, a group of active residents who get together once a week to share news and ideas about achieving a healthier lifestyle and enjoying greater well-being. They’re inspired by Atria’s Better This Year framework, a science-backed approach to successful aging based on four key lifestyle choices proven to slow down decline: exercise, nutrition, connection and goals.

“It’s exciting to see a societal shift in the aging population,” Camille Flores, Engage Life Director, said. “Ten years ago, once someone turned 75, they weren’t even imagining being able to feel better as they got older. Now, our residents are taking advantage of opportunities to stay active and try new things. They’re seeing a healthier vision of their future selves.”

Ed has fully embraced the Better This Year approach. After making changes in his own life, which resulted in looking and feeling better, Ed put his particular passion for healthy food and nutrition to work. Now, he’s helping his neighbors understand that “good” and “good for you” aren’t mutually exclusive through his participation in the community’s Food for Thought group, a committee of five residents and executive chef Bernd Schmitt.

“We meet on a monthly basis to look over the menu and share feedback from residents and their preferences for our dining options,” Ed explained. “In addition to our monthly meetings, I meet with chef Bernd personally when I can, and I’m in constant contact with him via email so he can make adjustments as necessary.”

Their collaboration has resulted in menu offerings such as salmon, protein-packed legumes and a greater selection of leafy greens. “We are so blessed to have our chef – he is amazing! And he’s open to receiving our feedback,” Ed added.

What Would Ed Eat – Atria Senior Living Blog


Often, it just takes a little encouragement from a friend or someone who has experienced success to inspire us to make different lifestyle choices. “I believe it’s important to be an example to other people,” Ed said. “If we can find a way to get the message across that eating healthier and making simple changes can have big rewards, we’ll find folks not only feeling better physically, but living longer as well. I can’t think of anything better to focus on.”

Atria Canyon Creek residents and staff have shared a few of their favorite recipes below. Enjoy.



What Would Ed Eat – Atria Senior Living Blog

Fiesta Quinoa
Submitted by Rick and Sheila F.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
2 ears corn, roasted and cut off cob
1 red bell pepper, roasted and chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro
3 limes, juiced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne pepper, if desired
(add grilled/shredded chicken for main entrée)
Cook quinoa according to package instructions using vegetable broth. Combine all ingredients.


Almond Crusted Baked Salmon
Submitted by Rick and Sheila F.

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. fresh herbs, chopped (parsley, dill, lemon thyme, etc.)
4 6 oz. salmon fillets
chopped almonds (pistachios, pecans, walnuts also work)

Preheat oven to 400° F. Mix the mustard, zest and herbs and dip fillets in it, then roll in nuts. Bake for 10 minutes, cover and let rest 5 minutes.


Ground Turkey and Spaghetti Squash
Submitted by Camille Flores, Engage Life Director

1 lb. lean ground turkey
half large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach
1 can tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt/pepper to taste
1 spaghetti squash, roasted and seeded

Cook meat until brown, add onion and garlic until cooked. Add canned tomatoes and spinach. Heat until cooked through. Add chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste. Use a fork to scoop out the squash pulp, which will resemble pasta. Serve the meat sauce on top of the spaghetti squash.

Category: The Atria Kitchen Tags: , , , ,

Atria Hacienda’s Food for Thought – Atria Senior Living

Food for Thought: The Choice is Yours

Posted on January 30, 2015 by Admin

Think about your favorite comfort foods – that homemade apple pie recipe your mother passed down, or the spaghetti and meatballs with the special sauce that has just the right amount of tang and spice.

Atria residents want to enjoy their favorite foods while also receiving a variety of choices. That’s why we create choice-focused programs for our residents. (more…)

Category: Our Team, The Atria Kitchen Tags:

Roasted Root Vegetables Recipe | The Atria Kitchen

Roasted Root Vegetables Recipe | The Atria Kitchen

Posted on December 12, 2014 by Admin

All varieties of root vegetables are in season right now, including parsnips, turnips, radishes, daikon, jicama, parsley root, celeriac, carrots, rutabaga, salsify and beets. Sweet potatoes and yams are also in season. Many root vegetables are low in fat and calories, a good source of fiber, high in Vitamin C and excellent sources of Vitamin A. This recipe for Roasted Root Vegetables with Horseradish Vinaigrette would make a tasty and healthy side for your next holiday dinner. (more…)

Category: The Atria Kitchen