Every day at Sunrise communities, you’ll find chefs hard at work preparing nutritious meals designed to nourish the body. But we know our residents expect and deserve meal options that are more than just nutritious. They also want foods that look and taste great.
One of our favorite ways to keep our menus diverse and fresh is the annual Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge. Sunrise chefs from across the U.S. and Canada submit recipes for consideration and finalists are chosen.
Senior Eats Nutritional Challenge
In April, 3 finalists made the trip to the annual Sunrise Leadership Conference to compete for the title of Sunrise Signature Chef. This year’s conference was held in Orlando, Florida. The finalists and their signature dishes were:
- Lye Fung Wong from Sunrise of Aurora, ON, who wowed the judges with her Maple-Orange Glazed Trout with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Asparagus.
- Mickey Averill from Sunrise of Norwood, MA, who served another delicious dish: Balsamic Glazed Salmon with Kale and Corn Slaw.
- Erwin Lazaro from Sunrise of Huntington Beach, CA, who was the winner! His Shiitake Ginger Chicken with Jasmine Rice and Chinese Long Beans earned him the top spot with judges.
Meet the 2019 Sunrise Signature Chef
Erwin was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. When he came to the United States, he met his first culinary mentor, Romulo Vistro, a former Mess Attendant, Second Class in the U.S. Navy.
Erwin started his Sunrise career as a lead cook at Sunrise at Bonita, CA, in 2003. In 2007, he was promoted to Dining Services Coordinator. That year, he met another mentor, Randolph Valdez. Randolph taught him the ins and outs of dining at Sunrise. Today, Erwin is a Cluster Dining Services Coordinator at Sunrise of Huntington Beach. He supports seven Sunrise communities in Orange County.
His service to Sunrise residents is one of accomplishment and distinction. He has:
- promoted five lead cooks to Dining Service Coordinators
- received the Leadership and Service Award in both 2014 and 2015
- named a Regional Coordinator of the Year in 2017
- received the Coordinator Joy in Service Award in 2017
- earned the Dining Excellence Award in 2018.
If you’d like to try the recipe that earned Erwin his latest honor, we’ve included it below.
Shiitake Ginger Chicken with Jasmine Rice and Chinese Long Beans
Shiitake Ginger Chicken
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, trimmed of excess fat
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. white pepper
- canola oil
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Combine the cornstarch, flour, garlic powder, and pepper in a shallow pan.
- Cut the chicken into 4 oz. portions and pound to an even thickness.
- Dredge the chicken in the cornstarch mixture, shaking off the excess.
- Cover the bottom of a wide sauté pan with canola oil. Add the chicken and cook on both sides until golden brown.
- Remove the chicken and place in a baking dish. Set aside.
Shiitake Ginger Mixture
- 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, julienned
- 1 tbsp. peeled and grated ginger
- 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
- 3 cups chicken stock
- Add the mushrooms, ginger, and garlic to the sauté pan. Cook over high heat until mushrooms are tender.
- Add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and reduce for five minutes.
- Strain the broth. Pour the liquid over the chicken. Reserve the mushroom ginger mixture.
- Place the chicken in the oven to finish cooking to an internal temperature of 165°F.
Jasmine Rice and Chinese Long Beans
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ lb. Chinese long beans, trimmed and cut into 3” pieces, blanched
- 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and quartered
- 2 to 3 cups cooked jasmine rice
- ¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
- ¼ cup sliced green onions
Heat the oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Add the beans and peppers. Cook quickly until slightly blistered. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To serve: Spoon the rice onto a plate. Top with the chicken and a spoonful of the broth. Arrange the beans, peppers, and reserved mushroom mixture over top. Sprinkle with the almonds and green onions. Sit back and enjoy!