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.


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