The Seneca Puts Sustainability on the Menu

June 25, 2021

While the restaurant industry has long recognized the importance of promoting sustainability, it’s a relatively new concept in senior living. However, it’s a passion for our Director of Dining Jason Love and Executive Chef Mike Rehm. As a result, menus at Woodlands, Long Draught Lounge, and Bluffs Bistro reflect our culinary commitment to healthy, sustainably responsible cuisine from local purveyors.

No stranger to sustainability, Chef Rehm is focused on providing residents with fresh farm-to-table cuisine. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, he got his culinary start working aboard the USS Independence CV-62, where he cooked for up to 800 personnel at sea. Since then, he has honed his culinary talents working at a host of restaurants and hotel kitchens. Prior to joining The Seneca, he served as executive chef at Hilton Hotel in Rockville, MD.

Operating with sustainability in mind means that great care is taken when it comes to whom we choose to work with. Love, who grew up in Maryland, is working to establish a strong sustainable seafood program and has developed relationships with vendors who share our values and commitment to sustainability.

Through partnerships with local, sustainable seafood purveyors, fresh fish that are pulled longline from the Chesapeake Bay or Mid-Atlantic are favorites for Chef Rehm to create unique flavor combinations that enhance the overall dish. At Woodlands, the menu features rockfish; white seabass, a delicious and sustainable option; and local fish, such as black drum and red drum. And for those who love crab, Chef Rehm features both hard-shell and soft-shell crab, when in season. Chef also offers a fresh catch-of-the-day entrée at Woodlands based on what comes off the dock that morning.

One thing is for certain, whatever ingredients Chef Rehm chooses to use, they’re going to be the freshest versions available. He is all about making things from scratch, including chicken and beef stock from the bones. Subscribing to the slow food movement, the idea of relying on local ingredients and traditional preparation methods, he focuses on quality over quantity. Expect steel cut oats rather than rolled or quick oats. They may take a bit longer to make, but they’re higher in fiber and have a lower glycemic level than other oats, which means you’ll stay full longer.

Chef Rehm also believes in eating lower on the food chain, such as legumes and grains. Eating low on the food chain, which is to eat more plants and less meat, is better for the environment, because it requires less energy to produce plant-based food. Research has shown that a plant-based diet is also better for our health, as it may lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and help us live longer.

One of Chef Rehm’s first jobs involved making pizzas, which is just one of the reasons he is thrilled to have an open-hearth oven at Woodlands. He relies on it to make mouth-watering breakfast items, such as cinnamon buns and chocolate croissants, and dinner options, such as pizza, flatbreads, garlic bread, and even crispy chicken wings.

Focused on the guest experience, both Chef Rehm and Love are raising the bar on senior living cuisine with sustainable options that are as healthy for our residents as they are for the planet.