Seasonal eating at the senior center
The best lunch deal in town won't be found in a restaurant.
It's at the Marjorie Stewart Community Center, where new Chef Dominic Sachet uses his nearly 30 years of restaurant experience to serve Sherwood seniors a rotating menu for just $4 per plate.
If you drop by the Center around noon on a weekday, you'll find several tables full of people enjoying Sachet's lunch du jour. The Lake Oswego resident has worked in kitchens all over the place — Seattle, Eugene, Massachusetts, Las Vegas and even Switzerland — and he approaches the center's menu the same way he would the daily specials at a full-service restaurant.
Sachet said he cooks for the seniors based on "different international flavors, what's in season, what's fresh, and what I'm in the mood for." A typical week's menu includes carnitas chile verde, grilled salmon steaks, Szechuan beef with stir-fried rice noodles, and chicken cordon bleu with buttered kale.
His work as a restaurant chef — most recently at Industry Restaurant in Tualatin — taught him how to create "fly by night" seasonal menus based on what was available to him that week.
That comes in handy at the center, where much of the food is sourced from the Oregon Food Bank and food rescue programs.
"I'm not giving them potatoes or pasta every day, and I'm mixing in different nationalities and different types of cuisines," Sachet said.
Sachet has spent the last decade of his career in the kitchen, but before that he bused and waited tables. He said he's held every food service job there is, with the exception of professional baker.
When Sachet heard that the chef position was open at the center, he saw it as an opportunity to work better hours. He and his wife have a 6-year-old daughter and a puppy at home.
"Being a chef and working in restaurants is pretty brutal," he said. "It's a lot of hours, a lot of hard work, a lot of weekends and nights. I've been doing it a long time, and this fit the bill in terms of stepping back a bit and being able to spend time with family."
He started cook at the center in April, and said he's been enjoying himself ever since. He and the seniors at the Center "have some nice playful banter and mutual respect."
"I like that I'm making good food for them, and that they're very appreciative of it," he added.