- Decrease font size. - Reset font size. - Increase font size.

Winning Ways make dining at The Legacy Willow Bend "par excellence"

The Legacy Willow Bend recognized the importance of fine dining at its inception. Residents here are well-traveled, well-educated and are opinionated when it comes to dining and food service.

Since 2008, the community has met or exceeded expectations and has established a widely respected reputation for excellence in expert meal preparation and service. It has also achieved an outstanding ability to cater to the kosher requirements of many of its residents.

As the decade comes to a close, The Legacy Willow Bend continues its strong commitment to fine dining with the addition of Director Wes Helms and Chef Roberto Madrid. Under their leadership, the community will continue to adapt to the latest trends, while keeping high quality the cornerstone of its meal service program.

Both men bring a passion to their profession. Helms describes their underlying philosophy as “the answer is ‘yes’.” In other words, he and Chef Madrid strive to offer a variety of menu options, individually tailored.

“There’s no mass production here,” says Helms. “With all of the special dietary needs, it’s a restauranteur’s dream job.” He should know. Helms says he has spent “my whole life” in the restaurant business before transitioning to the senior living industry.

Likewise, Chef Madrid comes to The Legacy Willow Bend from a long career in the hotel restaurant industry. Most recently, he was the executive sous chef at Deseo in Scottsdale, with prior experience at Hotel Westin Kierland in Phoenix and Hyatt Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale.

“I take my career very seriously,” says Chef Madrid. “I want nothing but the best. Excellence. I do my best every single day.”

What can residents expect from this stellar management team? Helms says the menus of the future will be “staying out of the routine.” He predicts constant menu changes, incorporating feedback and requests from residents to an even greater degree than before. Already, residents are seeing new menu items weekly.

“We want to engage and entertain residents with seasonal, fresh, service-based, satisfying meals. We have turned Chef Madrid’s extreme creativity loose to see what happens.”

Part of the new developments also affect staff. Chef Madrid has moved weekly menus from the chef’s office to the kitchen where staff can be included in the planning.

“My goal is to create a working environment where everyone is included and every voice counts,” he says.

Chef Madrid is also changing up the menu options for Stanley’s, the community’s bistro, which also serves employees.

“We’re randomly offering a completely different menu, even opening up Stanley’s in the evening and serving a special dinner there,” says Helms, adding, “Happy, full employees give better service.”

Helms and Chef Madrid are also sensitive to the fact that newer residents often want different meal options, like gluten-free, low-sodium, or low-carbohydrate. Kosher, too, remains as a stable option, but with new and more creative offerings.

“We’re taking it to a new level here,” says Helms. “We have the opportunity to personalize every meal. The goal overall is to keep it interesting, change it up and tailor it to the individual — and have fun in the process.”