New Kendall program offers seniors gourmet cuisine

Scott Gordon

A new program at Kendall College aims to give Evanston’s senior citizens a taste of college food — like baked salmon with tomato or mango salsa and cranberry chicken.

The school’s culinary students received favorable reviews Tuesday from a group of 19 Evanston seniors who sampled the fine cuisine.

The seniors, members of Evanston’s Levy Senior Activity Center, 300 Dodge Ave., dined at Kendall’s Cafe du Jour, enjoying one of many special meals the college hopes to bring to members of group homes and senior recreation programs, said Charles Jones, director of development at Kendall.

“Certainly seniors have a more refined palate than 18- or 19-year-olds, who will shovel anything that has cheese and meat into their mouths,” Jones said.

Levy Center member Joan Hickman, who teaches a class at Northwestern’s Institute for Learning in Retirement in the School of Continuing Studies, said the cafe’s food was “better than what you get at Norris (University Center).”

Jones said Ald. Arthur Newman (1st) and residents living near the college suggested a cooperative meal program for seniors in September. After meeting with both the city’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation and the Health and Human Services departments, Kendall decided to first try the idea on members of the Levy Center, which provides recreation services for adults 55 and older during the week.

“It’s a way to provide service to a segment of our community’s population, to provide them with different kinds of meals,” Jones said.

He added that he would be happy to offer the $6.50 meals to different groups of seniors every night of the week.

“We just think it’ll be a little change of pace and a little fun,” he said.

The meal also provided an opportunity for two of the college’s Human Services majors to work with seniors. Junior Chantel Daniels and freshman Tony Conley helped out by carrying trays and providing conversation.

“We’re here to make their environment comfortable and to let them know that they are a part of our community,” Daniels said.

For the first-year culinary students cooking and serving in the cafe, which is Kendall’s student cafeteria and is open to the public, it was a regular night at work, other than some special considerations made for their guests.

“We’re trying to come up with food that they won’t have a hard time chewing,” said chef instructor Walter Freund, who supervises students working in the cafeteria. “You wouldn’t put barbecued ribs out here or a tough stew.”