King-Bruwaert chef expands diners’ culinary horizons
Aaron Torres of Burr Ridge chops up bell peppers for dinner at King-Bruwaert House. Torres is the head of food services at King-Bruwaert House, an assisted living facility for men and women over the age of 60 in Burr Ridge. | Alyssa Schueneman~Sun-Times M
NAME: Aaron Torres
BEST KNOWN AS: Food service director at King-Bruwaert House, Burr Ridge
HOMETOWN: Burr Ridge
Updated: August 27, 2012 6:07AM
BURR RIDGE — After five years away, Aaron Torres’ return to King-Bruwaert House already felt like coming home. But this time, he really is.
Torres, who returned to the Burr Ridge senior living community as food service director in March, is living in the village, as well.
“I walk to work,” said Torres, who recently moved from Romeoville to an apartment on the King-Bruwaert property.
Once he makes his short pedestrian commute, Torres tackles the job of planning, preparing and serving meals to King-Bruwaert’s residents and employees. With the help of 18 staff, Torres keeps things tasty, healthy and interesting in the King-Bruwaert dining room.
“They grew up with meat and potatoes,” Torres said of his diners. Having just spent five years cooking for culinarily curious students at University of St. Francis in Joliet and Concordia University in River Forest, his newest clients are a bit less adventurous, but Torres is challenging them to expand their culinary boundaries.
“We’re trying vegetarian dishes,” said Torres. Eggplant Parmesan is becoming a favorite, as is his summer salad of fresh fruits.
“The plates always come back clean,” he said.
King-Bruwaert’s neighbors, as well as residents’ families and friends, are always welcome to come for a meal, and it is Torres’ linguine and clam sauce that draws the biggest crowd.
“That’s getting famous outside the building,” he said.
As a resident of King-Bruwaert’s staff housing, Torres isn’t just the chef, he’s also a neighbor. And like any good neighbor, he enjoys a friendly chat.
“I like to come out to the main dining room,” he said. That’s where he hears honest feedback about his cooking.
“They’ll tell you how to do your job. You just have to listen,” he said.
Many who dine on Torres’ meals were once fine cooks themselves. Torres invites residents to share with him their best recipes, which he is happy to make part of the menu.
One resident’s favorite pineapple salad is now known as Mariane’s Salad on the King-Bruwaert menu.
“For many people, the meals are the highlight of their day,” Torres said, and he’s committed to making every meal something special.