Renowned chef Wolfgang Puck often compares cooking to songwriting. There are only so many notes or flavors to work with, he says, but it’s how you combine them that sets you apart. For the past several months, residents at Henry Ford Village have been singing the praises of new executive chef Gus Younes and his culinary compositions. Younes oversees chefs in all three of the community’s kitchens. His focus on fresh ingredients and spices, and on new and unique cooking methods, are bringing a new dimension to the community’s dining experience “I’m doing things with some new techniques, and giving residents new ways to enjoy food,” Younes said.

Younes’ passion for cooking began when he was a young child helping his mother in the family kitchen. While in college studying medicine, he discovered a passion for the art of cooking, and a part-time position in a local café began a new journey and a career in the culinary arts.“Because of his experience, he not only leads the chefs in the kitchens but enjoys relationships with all his dining staff. His eyes and mind aren’t just in the kitchen,” Kamel Elkadri, Henry Ford Village Director of Dining Experiences, said. “I’ve known chefs that stay in the kitchen, but Chef Younes is very engaged with all the staff and loves to talk with residents about their dining experience.”

During a pre-pandemic business networking luncheon at the Village for members of the Downriver Business Association and the Allen Park Chamber of Commerce, Younes prepared a vibrant, fresh-tasting Moroccan chicken dish with ginger, cumin, mixed vegetables, and couscous that delighted diners. “Who expects a five-star Moroccan meal at a networking event in a senior living community?”, Laura Fennell, founder of the Downriver Business Association, asked rhetorically. “The residents of Henry Ford Village are treated to this kind of meal on a daily basis. For me, it’s just one more reason to live here.”

Since the pandemic, residents have enjoyed fresh-cooked meals delivered to their homes every day. Three meals a day, seven days a week, delivered twice daily, has been a tremendous benefit the residents are enjoying. Supplemented with home delivery from the Village’s own market of any other necessities, residents have had little need to venture out.

Though freed from having to cook, some of the residents said they still enjoy the occasional meal preparation, so the Village provided residents baskets of ingredients to cook along with a live demonstration by Chef Younes on the community’s internal television station. In this time when we’re encouraged to stay at home, the Village’s TV programming also features live church services from the community’s chapel, live and taped exercise classes led by wellness staff and fellow residents, seminars, live musical entertainment, the Village’s own daily news, and the new cooking show. For Younes, who each day oversees the preparation of 3,000 meals, “cooking for one camera was a new treat!”

Younes enjoys the freedom and flexibility his new position affords, allowing him to think outside the box. “When you know that your guests pay attention to what you’re doing, you enjoy feeding them right, and when they enjoy healthy, flavorful food choices, that makes a difference,” he said. “Working here is something every chef dreams of because you’re not limited to a specific cuisine or style of cooking. I can always be creative here and the residents love it.”