Great People   |   Culinary Features

Connections Magazine

Culinary Features Issue

In this issue:
Great People Grow Here: Mandy Wingert
From Pastry Chef to Community Leader
Tasting Mexico: Culinary Diversity at Parklan...

Great People Grow Here: Mandy Wingert

September 7, 2023

Sous Chef, Parkland at the Gardens

Mandy Wingert’s journey in the culinary arts has been nothing short of extraordinary. With decades of experience under her belt, she found her place at Parkland in the Gardens (PATG) as a Pastry Chef and became an integral part of the team for 10 years. Now, as Sous Chef, Mandy continues to bring her expertise and passion to create culinary delights that cater to the unique needs of residents.

As a true artist in the kitchen, she understands that food is not just about nourishment but also about creating an experience. Her plates have been called “works of art” and are often inspired by the seasons.

“We eat with our eyes first. If the meal looks delicious, you’ll enjoy it even more. I try to make my plates as appealing as possible. A stew is just soup in a bowl. Scoop it in a nice bowl, garnish with some herbs, and place a biscuit on it, these things elevate what it looks like,” said Mandy.

At Parkland, we understand the role food and nutrition play in the overall health of our residents. Memories are stronger and easier to recall when they’re attached to a physical sensation and grounded in an emotional experience.

With a passion for bringing back the comforts of home, Mandy skillfully crafts dishes that spark a memory with each dish that she prepares. Residents feel the nostalgia in Mandy’s cooking, stating “that was the hug from my grandmother that I really needed,” or, “I remember my mother used to make this, thank you for bringing that back.”

We know many people who live in our communities were raised with homemade bread baking in the oven — so we regularly bake fresh bread to fill our communities with a familiar smell in hopes that we can tap into memories of time spent in their homes or kitchens,” said Mandy.

Her passion for igniting emotion through taste buds came from her experience at the Fat Duck in England, one of the top restaurants in the world at the time. The Head Chef paired food with memories.

“A number of creations were reminiscent of childhood favorites, like the Nitro Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream turned dessert. Or toast fried in beef fat that produced oak and moss flavours meant to stir up memories of damp woodland walks. I thought, that’s a brilliant thing to do. I use the same philosophy at PATG,” said Mandy.

Mandy has lived lifetimes in the culinary arts. Starting at the age of three in her grandma’s kitchen in Regina, she graduated in Canada’s premier culinary school, Holland College in PEI, then moved on to complete her Red Seal certifications in both Cooking and Baking.

“In culinary school, I was selected to be on Culinary Team Canada – one of six chosen across Canada to compete at the Culinary Olympics. This competition culminated in the biggest culinary exhibition in the world – the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany.

Her next move? The Certified Chef du Cuisine (CCC), the highest rung in the career ladder for cooks in Canada. Mandy has been thinking about completing this culinary achievement for the past eight years, and now, with the help of the Joan Craig Bursary, she will begin the CCC through the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology this September.

“Things have changed since I attended Culinary School. I’ll be learning new ways of menu planning, marketing, and human resources techniques, like how to lead your people,” said Mandy.

Joan Craig Bursary

Mandy has been serving Joan memories for as long as Joan’s lived at PATG. Mandy is inspired by the giving nature of Joan. Part of a birthday club, Joan had approached Mandy and requested a lemon cake for Ginger’s birthday. “She’s always thinking about how she can bring a positive experience to someone’s life,” said Mandy.

A recipient of the Joan Craig Bursary, she reflects on how this funding has helped in her culinary journey.

“My original plan was to sign up for one course. The Joan Craig Bursary allows me to start and finish the course in one year, which is so fantastic.”

Mandy compares Joan to a needle in a haystack. “She’s hard to find. She proves everything that is still right in the world, because she wants to help others achieve their goals.”

Learn more about the Joan Craig Bursary.

Are you interested in a rewarding career in food services? View current opportunities to join our team of Great People in a community near you.

Mandy stands next to Joan Craig in the Dining Hall at Parkland at the Gardens

From Pastry Chef to Community Leader

May 8, 2024

Great People Grow Here

Meet Angela MacAdam. A pastry chef by trade, Angela started asMaître d’ at Caritas Residence then moved into the Harmony Wellness program as a Recreation Coach to engage more closely with the residents. Now, as a Business Manager, she’s a driving force behind the community spirit at Caritas Residence, overseeing operations and wellness activities with the Sisters of Charity.

At Shannex, we want to help you learn and grow as a skilled practitioner in your field of choice. With multiple divisions and areas of specialty available, your path can be one of advancement if you choose.

Great People Grow Here


Tasting Mexico: Culinary Diversity at Parkland Clayton Park

June 27, 2024
Executive Chef, Rodney Cole with Jesus Rodriquez, Sous Chef at Bradford Hall

Multiculturalism Day with Chef Rodney Cole and Chef Jesus Rodriguez

June 27th marks Multiculturalism Day, a celebration of diversity and cultural richness. At Parkland Clayton Park, this day holds special significance, highlighting the vibrant mix of backgrounds within the community. 

This year, the spotlight is on Executive Chef Rodney Cole and Sous Chef Jesus Rodriguez from Bradford Hall, whose culinary collaboration has brought an authentic Mexican experience to the staff, adding a nostalgic touch to Great People Month.

Chef Rodney, with seven years at Parkland Clayton Park, has a rich history in the culinary world. “Culinary is all I’ve ever done,” he shares, reflecting on his journey from being the youngest in his class at 17 to leading a retirement living culinary team. Rodney cherishes the connection with residents, valuing their stories and culinary preferences. 

Jesus Rodriguez, originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, joined Shannex a year ago. With a background as a lawyer, Jesus found his passion in cooking, influenced by his father’s restaurants, his grandmother’s recipes, and his wife’s professional training at Cordon Bleu. “We are very happy with Shannex for the opportunity to work here. So now me and my wife are giving back to the people who work here.”

For this year’s Great People Month, Rodney sought to bring authentic cultural dishes to the diverse staff at Parkland. He approached Jesus to develop an authentic Mexican menu. Jesus and his wife prepared traditional dishes, including birria, a savory beef taco with a unique blend of peppers, tomatoes, and onions, and Tres Leches cake, a beloved Mexican dessert soaked in three kinds of milk.

“The cake is the most traditional cake we have in Mexico. Tres Leches is three kinds of milk – condensed, evaporated, and regular together. We make the cake dry and soak the cake in the milk mixture, then strawberry compote and whipped cream and fresh fruit,” said Jesus.

Bradford Chef, Jesus Rodriguez with his wife, Chef Daniela Islas, holding a Mexican dish, Tres Leches.

Chef Rodney sourced specialty ingredients, running around the city to find dehydrated peppers and other essentials. “It was a great experience, and the staff appreciated it,” he says. The event not only celebrated Mexican cuisine but also offered Jesus and his wife valuable feedback as they plan to open their bakery in Halifax.

Jesus expressed his gratitude, “We are so happy to share our traditional dishes. The diverse community at Parkland appreciated the flavours of Mexico.” Chef Rodney adds, “Multiculturalism is a core theme of Great People Month. We strive to bring familiar cultural recipes to life, ensuring everyone feels valued.”

Great People Month is all about appreciating our staff, and at Parkland Clayton Park, we embrace the multicultural nature of our community by incorporating flavours from around the world. Chef Rodney explains, “If I don’t have someone from the culture here in culinary, then we’ll do the research to make it happen.” This approach allows the culinary team to experiment with spices and create authentic dishes, enriching the dining experience for everyone. 

While resident meals require careful consideration of spice and sodium, staff events open the door to more adventurous and diverse culinary creations. Looking ahead, Chef Rodney is enthusiastic about continuing this tradition, promising to bring familiar cultural recipes to life again next year.

As Multiculturalism Day is celebrated, the collaboration between Rodney and Jesus underscores the importance of cultural appreciation. Their efforts brought nostalgia and joy to the Parkland Clayton Park staff, exemplifying the true spirit of community and diversity. 

We’re growing our culinary team! Join a vibrant and diverse team at Parkland Clayton Park. Explore culinary careers with us today.