Courville Employee Spotlight: Dennis Hickey

What is your position?

Executive Chef, Aynsley Place, Nashua

A little more about Dennis:

For the last few years, ice carving has taken up all my spare time. I run a business with fellow chef Dave Soha called “Ice Breakers”. We used to belong to the American Culinary Federation, a chef group, and they had charity events throughout the year. A couple of them were ice sculpting events for the Nashua Holiday Stroll and Concord First Night Celebration. We started to volunteer with them and began to learn the art of ice carving. We ended up catching the carving bug which led to the business we have today!

With the Holidays fast approaching, what’s the best gift you’ve received?

The best gift I’ve ever received would probably be a toy dog that had a flashlight that made it bark and walk. It was exactly what I wanted. I must have seen it on TV, and my mom made sure to get it for Christmas, I loved that thing! It was my favorite toy as a child.

How long have you been with Courville?

I have been the Executive Chef for two and a half years at Aynsley Place. I have been with the Courville Communities on and off for the last 25 years. I started as one of the cooks, worked per diem, and then came back to work full-time.

How did you get into the field of cooking?

I’ve always loved to cook. Even when I was a child, I used to cook with my mother all the time. I originally was going to school for Business Administration at New Hampshire College (now Southern New Hampshire University), but I needed to work my way through school so I took jobs in restaurants. Quickly, I realized I had a natural talent for cooking, and started to excel at it. So, I stopped pursuing business and have been cooking ever since!

How did you make your way to being a chef for an assisted living facility?

Through my business partner, Dave Soha at Carlyle Place. We met through 99 Restaurants years ago, and when he got a job with Courville he invited me into the company. And the rest, as they say is history!

Has it been a challenge to create menus for the residents of an assisted living facility?

People say, “you can’t be creative with food” at an assisted living facility. But that’s not true! Sure, we have some diet restrictions, but we do everything from scratch here. Every day I make breads, soups, entrees, desserts all from scratch. I get to be creative in all aspects of my cooking every day here at Aynsley Place. I still get challenged trying to make recipes that are lower in sugar or salt and meet some of the diet restrictions our residents have. But, I get to experiment and try new things, like sugar free baking, and its rewarding every day.

What do you think makes The Courville Communities unique? What’s one thing that stands out to you about The Courville Communities?

Above anything else, I think the Courville Communities are like a home and a family. When I came here I felt like I was going home, it doesn’t feel like a job. The people enjoy what we do – they appreciate it, and they don’t have to worry about it. Every day that I am here serving food, I take time to talk to the residents individually, ask them how they liked their meal and I get to know them. Now, I know all their names and what they like and dislike. I’ve learned about their families and their lives and you really get to connect with them.

Can you think of any great/memorable/standout moments at Courville?

A lot of stuff that happens here is really nice. For example, I invited some residents that had to move to the nursing home over for lunch just so they can see their friends again. We try to do that a lot. Also, our last holiday open house was a wonderful success! The whole staff got together and worked as a team to make sure the open house was great for the residents as well as their families. It was a really long day, but very rewarding.

Why choose The Courville Communities?

Best food in town!

For more information on any of The Courville Communities, schedule a visit today!

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