John Havlis, Executive Chef at HarborChase of Long Grove, an assisted living community that officially opens this month, recently took some time from his busy schedule to share how he got started in the business of creating memorable meals.
SW Lake (SWL): What’s your favorite food memory from when you were growing up?
John Havlis (JH): That’s easy; Thanksgiving at my parent’s house where I was always in charge of mashed potatoes and gravy. I also used to help my father bake bread on Saturday mornings. Working with my hands and transforming ingredients into a completed dish was something I could relate to.
SWL: Who inspired you to become a chef?
JH: My inspirations were right here in the NW suburbs. Bernard Crietier of Le Vichyssois taught passion for a craft and how cooking was something very special. I remember how his late friend and colleague, Jean Banchet of Le Francaise, would stop in late on Saturday nights. Chef Banchet would present me later with the American Culinary Federation Chef of the Year Award. Both chefs are iconic culinarians and were my inspiration from Day One.
SWL: Where did you train?
JH: I mentored with Chef Crietier at his iconic Lakemoor restaurant and then attended the Restaurant School of Philadelphia, graduating with honors.
SWL: The HarborChase community is brand new. Where did you work before?
JH: Mostly private country clubs, hotels and high-end restaurants from Palm Beach to Chicago, including Le Nomades and Charlie Trotter’s.
SWL: Tell us what it’s like to prepare meals for residents of HarborChase of Long Grove?
JH: Eating is a very big part of their day. Being on time with the meals is important. You need to know your residents and be familiar with their different diets. Also, listening to their wishes when it comes to their likes and dislikes is crucial for happy residents.
SWL: So can you tell us what’s in your refrigerator at home?
JH: Siracha, Cholula, Frank’s and Louisiana hot sauces. We always have farm fresh eggs, as well as Fuji water, Land O’ Lakes Butter, assorted cheeses, organic greens, basil, kumato tomatoes, fresh vegetables, Amish chicken breast, ground turkey, craft ales, and Stouffer’s macaroni & cheese.
To learn more about HarborChase of Long Grove, 1190 Old McHenry Road, please call 847.603.4045 or visit harborchaselonggrove.com.