Clare Executive Chef Hagop Hagopian bested a field of 27 contestants to earn the first-ever LCS Chef of the Year award in August, a title he says simply represents what he does on a daily basis at The Clare.
As one of the five finalists in a Chopped-style competition vying for the coveted title he came out on top with a winning dish of Coulotte steak seared with salt and pepper, kimchi with vegetables and mushrooms, farro boiled with citrus, herbs and spices, kohlrabi salad, sunny-side-up quail eggs and a flavorful stand-out glaze sauce.
Chef of the Year is a cooking competition amongst chefs of Life Care Services communities such as The Clare. The purpose of the competition was to recognize and celebrate the hospitality and culinary talents chefs contribute to enriching the lives of the seniors they serve.
“It feels good to do what we do here over in the competition and come out on top,” Chef Hagop says. “Everything that was executed there is served here. The competition dishes are on the menu here at The Clare.”
The original field of 27 contestants were selected based on submitted applications, recipes and videos for judging, after which only five finalists advanced. They competed in three rounds at the Sysco corporate headquarters in Houston. Chef Hagop came armed with a menu of dishes served at The Clare and bested the competition in a heated battle. The competition overall was an important opportunity for Chef Hagop to put his talents to the test and learn from his fellow competitors. Leading up to the finish, he received support from residents and staff alike.
“It was a great event and a great way to recognize the talent that we have in the company,” says Francesco Tardio, Director of Dining Services at The Clare. “Winning Chef of the Year and knowing that we have the best chef of over 140 communities within the company puts us on a different level, one where we can put out great food and inspire other communities to do the same.”
At The Clare, dining is a social and culinary event, with a full and varied gamut of gourmet offerings prepared by Chef Hagop and his team. He and the culinary team and dining staff deliver exceptional quality service and aim to please the residents.
Back home, The Clare hosted a viewing party of the event for residents. They cheered Chef Hagop on to victory from afar. After his win, the community has an even greater sense of pride for his accomplishment and how Chef Hagop serves every day.
“His win wasn’t surprising,” Executive Director Kyle Exline says. “We know how talented he is, and this validates his talents and what he does for the residents at The Clare. It really made the residents and the community proud.”
Of course, the grand prize and prestigious LCS Chef of the Year title weren’t Chef Hagop’s only takeaways.
“The biggest thing about the competition is that we’re a product of our environment,” Chef Hagop says. “Participating in this competition made me feel more like I was part of the community of LCS chefs.”