Some people are lucky: They’ve always known where they want to work. Joseph Albert, Food Service Director at The Bristal at East Meadow, is one of those people.
“I’ve been working in assisted living practically since my career started,” he said. “I’ve always loved the feeling of the back of the kitchen.”
And during those years, he’s come to embrace every aspect of his job there.
“I love the hours, I love the people, I love the residents,” he said. “I love being able to have conversations with people who’ve seen things that I couldn’t and been through so much through the years.”
A Day in the Life of a Chef at The Bristal
Joseph’s daily routine is busy, but never dull.
When he arrives at work, some residents are still enjoying breakfast. He takes a few minutes to chat with them, pour coffee, and get ready for the lunch rush.
In the kitchen, he said, “I make sure everyone is working and doing good.”
After lunch, it’s already time to start preparing dinner. And it’s no wonder it might take a while, with dishes like slow-roasted beef short ribs in red wine sauce and sautéed trout almondine, cauliflower polonaise, and zucchini provencal on the menu.
For Joseph, originally from Old Bethpage, cooking isn’t just something he does at work; it’s a way of life.
“Outside of work, I cook everything,” he said. “I love to cook smoked food. I cook brisket at home for 14-15 hours; same thing with ribs, and I make my own barbeque sauce.”
And at work, there’s one dish, in particular, he enjoys making for the residents: spaghetti squash with sautéed chicken, grape tomatoes, and fresh baby spinach.
It’s clear that after a lifelong career cooking for assisted living residents, Joseph is smitten with his job.
“I love being able to prepare good food and good stuff for the residents, and see them enjoy it,” he said.
Get Chef Joseph Albert’s Spaghetti Squash Recipe
With fresh vegetables, chicken, and squash replacing pasta, this dish is as healthy as it is delicious.
1 medium spaghetti squash
2 cups chicken broth
1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into cubes
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
10 oz. baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ Spanish onion, diced
2 oz. butter (½ stick), softened
½ cup white wine
Italian seasonings to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded parmesan cheese, for garnish
1) Split the squash in half; top with Italian seasonings and the 2 oz. of butter.
2) Roast the squash for 50 minutes at 350 degrees or until tender.
3) In a sauté pan, brown the garlic and onions. Add chicken and cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
4) Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil and reduce by half. Season with salt and pepper.
5) Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scrape out some the squash onto the plate with a fork. Make a nest with the spaghetti squash.
6) Add spinach and tomatoes to the chicken mixture. Cook until the spinach is wilted and the tomatoes have softened. Top squash with chicken-vegetable mixture and sauce. Garnish with the parmesan cheese.