It was a battle for the ages. A battle of wills. A battle steeped in deep rivalries.
A battle … steeped in cheese sauce.
Eight chefs from assisted-living complexes across Volusia County recently descended on Downtown DeLand bistro Byte for the second annual Battle of the ALF Chefs: Battle Mac & Cheese.
Proceeds from the event, which is put on by home health care agency Senior Helpers, go to the Parkinson Association of Greater Daytona Beach.
Chefs from John Knox Village, The Cloisters of DeLand, and other prominent assisted-living facilities all showed off their culinary chops in the competition, putting their own personal touches on an American staple.
“This is the second year we’re doing it. Last year was Battle Meatballs. This year is Battle Mac & Cheese,” said Marjorie Marcus, director of operations for Senior Helpers of DeLand. “It’s a blind tasting. Everybody who attends votes on their favorites.”
The attendees — about 100 in total, including residents of local ALFs — each received eight small colored cups of mac and cheese, along with a ballot.
At the end of the tasting, each person ranked which three colored cups contained the concoctions that most pleased that person’s palate.
“It’s a great event. The main thing is we’re raising money for Parkinson’s, helping those people, that we need to find a cure for that,” said Chef John Davis, of Grand Villa of DeLand. “It’s a terrible disease. The mac and cheese contest, that’s second to that, of course.”
The disease affects many ALF residents, he noted.
Davis was last year’s Battle of the ALF Chefs champion.
“I won the meatball competition last year,” he said. “They come up with different items every year, this year being mac and cheese, which is tough.”
Davis described himself as a “Southern boy, but raised by an Italian grandmother,” and said he tried to keep his recipe traditional.
“I knew people would bring lobster and bacon and all that craziness, so I wanted to stay traditional and just stay mac and cheese,” he said. “So, I did seven cheeses, a little bit of truffle oil, some saffron, some cloves and béchamel, and just tried to chef it up, you know? Make it a little bit special, so when you take that bite, maybe it’ll be a little different than everybody else.”
The event was a fun — and delicious — way to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease.
The disease is a progressive, degenerative and currently incurable nervous-system disorder. It comes on slowly, and can cause shaking, rigidity, slow movement, difficulty walking, and mental problems.
“Parkinson’s is super-important to the ALF community,” said Amanda McHugh, marketing director of The Cloisters of DeLand. “It touches all of us, so I think this is a great tie-in, and giving back to that organization is wonderful.”
Vince Kinsler, executive director of the Parkinson Association of Greater Daytona Beach, praised the event, and said the money raised for the association will help to fund activities the group provides, which include a dance program, exercise programs and support groups.
“The funds help to keep things rolling, to keep programs moving,” he said. “This is a wonderful event. Very, very important to our association, and I think important to West Volusia.”
For an unknown reason, Kinsler said, Parkinson’s and related disorders are particularly prevalent in the Volusia-Flagler area.
“This area, when you speak in terms of Volusia and Flagler, for some reason there are more people with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders than there are in much larger geographic areas,” he said. “We don’t know why that is. It might just be because it is.”
People with Parkinson’s, Kinsler noted, aren’t usually ones to give up easily.
“More than anything, these people are highly motivated human beings, people with Parkinson’s. The disease is miserable; it’s progressive,” he said. “There’s no cure, and yet, these people go above and beyond to relieve those symptoms. They are willing to try just about anything to help sustain themselves and live a more comfortable life.”
As for the mac and cheese competition, only one mac and cheese dish would be crowned most magnificent.
And in the end, John Knox Village Chef Jeff Hollen’s recipe proved superlative.
What about Hollen’s pasta pleased the people’s palates?
“It was kind of Southwestern and spicy. We called it Smokehouse Macaroni and Cheese,” Hollen said. “It had some pork belly.”
- Anthony DeFeo, email@example.com
Spring 2012 - Pathways to Independent Living - Review tips and techniques for independent living.
Summer 2012 - Pathways to Independent Living - Review tips and techniques for independent living.
(July 2012) - Eyewitness News speaks with a local family whose been affected by Alzheimer's and features the free dementia caregiving workshop in Charlotte.
(September 2016) Senior Helpers®, one of the nation's premier providers of personalized in-home senior care, today announced plans to expand to Canada in an effort to offer personal care and companion services to seniors who wish to live in the comfort of their own home. Following the success of its U.S. expansion efforts, Senior Helpers will align with Stonewood Equity Fund I, who will serve as the brand's master franchise in Canada. Together they will open the first Canadian location in the Durham Region, part of the greater Toronto area, on September 15.
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(August 2016) Find the right care and peace of mind for your elderly loved ones with Senior Helpers. Leeza Gibbons shares her story with confidence and optimism.
(June 2016) Leeza Gibbons can pinpoint the exact moment her life and identity changed forever. "It happened during my grandmother's funeral," recalls the Los Angeles-based, Emmy award-winning entertainment reporter. "My mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and we were burying her mother, who had the same disease. And I realized, 'Wow, I'm always going to be her daughter, but I now have this hybrid role — of reversing the roles — and becoming her caregiver.' That was the moment when I owned it, when it became very clear to me."
(June 2016) Welcome to 21st century America, where we have longer lives than ever before and higher hopes for healthy aging. We are, happily, the beneficiaries of medical and scientific breakthroughs that have given us life spans that not long ago would have been the stuff of science fiction. But we also face serious challenges, including the number of seniors struggling to find and afford much-needed care.
(June 2016) Personalized senior care leader Senior Helpers just announced the opening of a new location in Terre Haute, Indiana. This marks the 257th location nationwide for Senior Helpers, one of the biggest in-home senior care franchise systems in the country. The new location is operated by owner Matthew Page.
(May 2016) "Parkinson's disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that affects nearly one million people in the U.S. alone, and that number will likely increase due to the aging Baby Boomers population," said Chris Buitron, Senior Helpers vice president of marketing. "We are proud to be the first in our industry to provide specialized caregiver training in Alzheimer's, dementia, and now, Parkinson's disease care. Over the years, Senior Helpers has established itself as the best option for navigating the challenges of in-home senior care today, and this new program further underscores our commitment to offering skilled services while allowing our aging clients to maintain the best quality of life possible in the comfort of their own homes."
(March 2016) We talk a lot about the nearly limitless opportunities that are now available as we age — which is why we work hard to provide the hope and inspiration required and believe that the rest of our lives can truly be the best of our lives.
(March 2016) Enter to win a Gold Violin gift card or a Senior Helpers care bag. Senior Helpers is one of the largest in-home senior care companies in the U.S. Senior Helpers offers a wide range of personal care and companion services, including Alzheimer’s and dementia care services, to assist seniors who wish to live independently.
(February 2016) Entertainment and other activities are essential for the well-being of people with Alzheimer's. They can make the difference between a deadly boring day of staring at the floor and a rich sense of purpose and contentedness. They can also help the caregiver make a connection with the person, no matter how brief. Read the full article here.
(February 2016) Senior Helpers®, one of the nation's largest in-home senior care franchised businesses, has received the highly sought after Best of Home Care Endorsed National Provider recognition for the third consecutive year. Home Care Pulse, the home care industry's leading market research firm that specializes in customer satisfaction research and quality assurance, awarded the 2016 distinction due to exceptional customer service reviews by existing clients. Read the full article here.
(January 2016) Senior Helpers®, one of the nation's largest in-home senior care franchised businesses, announced today that Rob Cantrell joined the Senior Helpers corporate team as the new Vice President of Franchise Development, taking on responsibility for continuing the growth Senior Helpers has seen in franchise unit sales. Read the full article here.
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(February 2015) Leeza Gibbons has been competing on The Celebrity Apprentice and is STILL in the game! This morning, she was featured on Fox And Friends, where she talked about the show, her charity, and Senior Helpers. Watch the clip here.
(January 2015) Leeza Gibbons was featured on The Doctors where she discussed her role as a family caregiver and how Senior Helpers and the Senior Gems Program have helped those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. Watch the video here.
(November 2014) Leeza Gibbons was featured on “A Healthy You & Carol Alt” on Fox News where she discussed dealing with the reality of dementia and how Senior Helpers services can help family caregivers. You can watch the video here.