Visitors and residents of Brandermill Woods Retirement Community are often surprised to find a top European executive chef and dining manager in charge of their meals. But they are even more excited when they taste the culinary delights prepared under the direction of Graham Peers.
Graham, Dining Director at Brandermill Woods Retirement Community, was trained in culinary schools in Liverpool, England. He has held positions as executive chef at European hotels like the cosmopolitan Hotel St. George in Liverpool England (just 7 miles from the John Lennon Airport), and the famous 400 year old Hand Hotel Llangollen, set in the gorgeous landscape of North Wales, UK. Seeking a bit of adventure, he also spent four years as the executive chef on the yachts of the rich and famous. Summers were spent sailing the Mediterranean Sea, with stops such as: Barcelona, Rome, Monaco and Naples. Winters were spent in the warm Caribbean, visiting the islands and using local foods at each stop to create his dishes.
On one of these trips, his employers told him they would be entertaining a special guest. After the dinner, which featured veal chops with a spicy peanut sauce, the wife of the guest came down to the galley to ask for his recipe. The guests turned out to be the President and First Lady of Mexico and they would soon be serving his dish at their future state dinners.
Graham says many people, when they are checking out retirement communities, will come for lunch or dinner to try out the food. He says it’s particularly gratifying when they tell him that Brandermill Woods has the best food and that it played a part in their decision to become residents there.
Brandermill Woods offers several venues to keep things interesting. You can start your day with breakfast or brunch at the Bistro. The Bistro remains open all day (from 8.00 am until 7.00 pm) so you can eat whenever you want in a casual, dressed-down atmosphere. Lunch there could be your choice of fresh salads including crispy fried chicken salad, tossed garden or Caesar. If you love a good sandwich, they have a wide selection. There are classic club, Reuben or hand carved ham or turkey sandwiches, among others, on your choice of rye, whole wheat or white. But if you are craving a nice, hot, cheeseburger, Bistro has that too. Soups and sides are varied, with all the usual choices plus some surprises like sweet potato fries. Speaking of potatoes, you can get your choice of baked, sweet, fried or mashed most days.
Then, for the cocktail hour, there is the Mannina Lounge, with its own version of Happy Hour, providing end of the day opportunities to socialize and relax with other residents and guests.
If you prefer fine dining, Oscar’s, the formal dining room, will have you eating in style. On any given day, you might find fresh fried oysters, spinach ravioli, or mouth-watering, herb-encrusted, Angus roast beef, slow roasted with a mushroom, shallot, and red wine demi-glace, Oscar’s will have you looking forward to a satisfying evening. Yum.
Health and flavor are two hallmarks of Graham's cuisine. With his skilled team of a certified dietary manager, executive chef and dining room managers, the varied and delicious meals are planned to be heart healthy, with options for those with dietary constraints such as gluten intolerance.
Because of Graham’s experiences with world cuisine, he is able to provide residents unique meals with a wide variety of flavors. He enjoys representing Indian, Mexican, Japanese and other cultures in his presentations. He also like to do theme menus for holidays.
When asked which dishes the residents seem to rave about most, he said his selection of soups seem to be favorites. They include treats like Madeira and mushroom soup, carrot and dill soup and, his most-often requested, she-crab soup.
Considering his varied background, why has Graham Peers chosen to stay at Brandermill Woods for twenty-four years? He says the best thing about working there are the relationships he has built over time. He says, “How would it feel to have 400 friends, 400 people that you saw virtually every week, people you liked and considered so close that they are like family? When I came here I thought, it’s like I have 400 grandparents! Now of course that I am older, I can say it’s like having 400 parents.”