Meet Food Service Director Eric Rucinski of Culinary Services Group (CSG), who cooks up tasty dishes and good health for Broadway House residents.
Why did you choose a career in food service?
Growing up in Sayreville, NJ, I started cooking out of necessity—my mom was a bad cook. A cookbook by American chef Charlie Trotter also inspired me. Originally, I thought I could be paid to create art in food, which was a super naïve way of thinking. I decided to attend the New York Restaurant School in SoHo and found out on day one that culinary school doesn’t work that way. After graduating with certification in restaurant and hotel management, I worked in restaurants and high-end senior retirement communities. And by the way, my mom started practicing while I was in culinary school. Now she’s a good cook!
What’s your favorite cuisine?
There’s really no one cuisine that’s a favorite. It’s more of a feeling I call empathy in cooking. I like to cook other people’s family recipes—maybe recipes from people’s grandparents. I love to see the nostalgia wash over their faces as they eat. My favorite recipe to prepare is Chicken Kiev, which is also my father’s favorite. This was the dish I perfected for a class in culinary school. My dad must have eaten 20 different versions while I was working on it for class.
Why Broadway House?
After considering a more lucrative position at Newark Airport, I chose to work at Broadway House five months ago. I sought out CSG for their guiding principles—honesty, transparency, and integrity—which align with my own principles. However, the tipping point was the Broadway House mission. Here, there’s a new and different level of accountability. Names and faces are attached to each plate prepared—that plate of baked chicken is for Tanya, that pasta is for Ramona. Knowing I will see them again tomorrow provides a level of empathy and accountability that you don’t get in a restaurant. Many of our residents don’t have a strong nutritional background when they arrive here. It’s gratifying to introduce them to a new nutritional life, which is critical to their overall well-being. When I see clean plates come back to the kitchen, I know we’re doing something right.
Any fun events planned for residents?
Due to the surge in COVID cases over the summer, Broadway House was on outbreak status for the safety of our residents. That meant many of our communal events had to be postponed. In the meantime, we worked to keep residents happy by increasing the frequency of the ice cream cart and other grab and go events. With the COVID situation clearing up a bit, I’m looking forward to working with the activities team on our annual luau in September. Stay tuned: There’s going to be a Potato Salad Cook Off between Michael Jackson, the Kitchen Lead Supervisor, and me!