By Benjamin Naim
Darryl Young’s culinary team at The Palms at Ponte Vedra — an assisted-living and memory care facility located on Solana Road — works daily to ensure residents enjoy a homey atmosphere, one-on-one service and restaurant-quality meals that meet their individual dietary needs.
Young, who served as a general manager at Holiday Inn for 10 years before entering the culinary business, said he worked with Executive Director Barbara Matteson in Jacksonville for three years before transitioning to a company in Atlanta. Eventually, Matteson offered him a job at The Palms at Ponte Vedra that he couldn’t refuse.
“I enjoy it,” Young said. “I like the atmosphere, I like the residents. When I started out about five years in, the assisted living, I was there, and it became routine and it became, ‘Today we’re going to do meatloaf and tomorrow we’re going to do this and we’re going to offer grilled cheese – and we’re going to offer an omelet.'”
Young reinvigorated the Palms’ culinary department by creating a restaurant-style atmosphere where everything is made-to-order and prepared on the spot. Consequently, chefs there have been given creative freedom to put their personal stamp on their work while meeting the dietary needs of the community.
“It can be challenging at times,” Young noted. “The diets that we offer are a no-added salt, and then we do no concentrated sweets, so when I do my desserts, I always do something for sugar-free.”
Young’s dining area features dessert options prepared by the culinary director himself at the crack of dawn, each day. His pies consist of citrus, fresh herbs and other healthy ingredients. Additionally, Young caters to the health needs of individual residents by making softer, easier-to-consume alternatives.