Chefs Cooking

How to Establish a Strong and Sustainable Culinary Culture

By Adam Grafton, VP of Culinary at Morrison Living

It would be great if building and sustaining a strong culinary culture was as easy as making classic consommé for us chefs, but it’s not always a simple equation. As a culinary artist, we understand the importance of finding the right ingredients to make the perfect recipe. When you’ve mastered the art of building your culinary culture – taking care of residents and guests and providing solutions falls into place naturally.

So what are the ingredients for establishing a culture of innovation, excellence, quality and execution? Let’s break it down into courses…

Chefs in the kitchen community

Amuse Bouche

For starters, it all begins with the recruiting process. To attract and retain the top talent, you need to know your company’s mission and values and identify the most important skills for your organization. At Morrison Living, we’ve identified our Core Culinary Standards which is a list of guidelines from both a purchasing and execution perspective that keeps us focused on quality and details. Our core culinary standards capture guidelines ranging from what purchases are acceptable to utilize in our kitchens, to how dishes should be prepared.

Our chefs will recall that during their hiring process, we look for passionate culinarians who demonstrate the ability to lead. We require completion of both a written and hands-on practical cooking test to ensure expectations are met and to validate their skillset.

chef creating wraps


Let’s get to the meat of it! Once you’ve hired your chefs, the implementation of culinary culture begins with proper onboarding. If associates don’t get the information and enthusiasm they deserve shortly after accepting the job, then they might not perform well within your organization. The onboarding process should lead to job satisfaction, excitement, and long-term retention.

Our chefs are informed of our culinary philosophy and core culinary standards right from the start. These standards translate in our communities in the form of execution, while bringing innovation to the forefront for our residents, guests and clients.

chef garnishing the plates


The sweet spot is that continued development, growth and recognition is the key to maintaining and sustaining a strong culinary culture. As chefs, we are proud of every dish that leaves our kitchen, which motivates us to do what we do daily. A simple, “Thank you, Chef” or “Great meal tonight,” is the real reward.

The passion and excitement from our chefs is contagious, making our culinary culture real and alive in our kitchens! We want to hold onto the passion and we do so with continued training and development opportunities to ignite excitement. When I reflect on our Culinary Philosophy that states, “We have a Passion for Creating Memorable Experiences through Quality Ingredients, Culinary Traditions and Sustainable Practices,” it summarizes not only what we as chefs are passionate about, but it truly captures many elements of our Morrison Living culinary culture.  This is more than just a written philosophy. It is a promise statement from chefs that is embraced every day in our kitchens.

Serving over 200,000 meals a day, some may think that establishing a strong and sustainable culinary culture in an organization as large as Morrison Living might be difficult. But my response is simple. Build a strong foundation of talented, passionate chefs supported by a meaningful culinary philosophy and core culinary standards. This will create a positive environment of engagement while still maintaining the standards of excellence and expectation that will result in the perfect recipe.

If you’d like to join our Morrison family, check out our culinary opportunities!