Although he started in the restaurant business when he was 15, it wasn’t until later in life that Executive Chef John Dykeman was drawn to working in a kitchen in a senior living community.
He had made delicious meals for weddings, did catering and even cooked for a couple of presidents. While that was exciting, he said, the satisfaction was fleeting.
“There was always something missing,” John says.
When his father moved into a senior living community, John saw firsthand the care his father received. He realized that mealtime was an important part of the day in residents’ lives. In 2018, he joined Meadow Ridge as a sous chef.
“I came here and immediately felt that I was making a difference in people’s lives,” he says. “When I go to my car at the end of the day, I feel like I’ve done something good.”
As a child, John traveled to England and Paris and ate in many bistros, experiencing the philosophy behind the food. When he first came to Meadow Ridge and was involved in setting up the Bistro, he ran it like a true European bistro.
It’s that kind of upscale comfort food he plans to add to the main restaurant menu. He says it involves working with simple ingredients and letting them speak for themselves. “It is simple food done well,” he says.
In 2021 when the then executive chef was looking to retire, John was the top candidate for the post. He received many congratulations emails from residents.
“I feel blessed to work at Meadow Ridge, and I am fortunate to be working alongside such a talented and devoted team,” he says. “The ultimate payoff is the fulfillment I feel, knowing I have played a part in affecting the lives of our residents and associates in a positive and profound manner.”
In his free time, John enjoys music—both studying and playing it. He plays three different instruments and studies music theory. He also enjoys photography and exploring the state of Maine.