At first glance, Frank Ziegler seems out of place serving as Corporate Chef for the Shepherd senior living communities.
A former sergeant in the French Army, Ziegler served as Chef de Cuisine and bodyguard for a five-star general and was awarded multiple medals, including a Military Cross with two bronze stars and a Purple Heart, for combat wounds suffered during two tours. He then supervised and served in the kitchens of some of the world’s finest restaurants and high-end resorts, from Paris to far, far beyond.
And yet now he is at Shepherd Senior Living, preparing menus, recruiting staff, overseeing kitchen design and working with local farmers, beekeepers, and nurseries to source the freshest ingredients – all while taking the time to serve on the line in Shepherd’s state-of-the-art kitchens. He takes pride in preparing sous vide food cooked at extremely low temperatures in their natural juices. He also enjoys teaching and inspiring the executive chefs at Shepherd and leading cooking classes for residents.
Why Shepherd rather than Manhattan, or an exotic resort three-quarters of the way around the world?
Ziegler’s life and vision took a sharp turn after he lost his father to cancer. Having previously lost his mother, also to cancer, he began thinking more about the role of food and nutrition in health and healing. He studied online. He read voraciously, including books about medicinal plants.
He thought about the time he had spent as a young child at his grandmother’s house in the deep forests of France, where he first learned the art of putting ingredients together – and the science of persuading them to meld. He thought too about the imagination, creativity and natural ingredients that went into the cooking he learned in remote areas such as Jakarta, where people impressed on him the secrets of natural herbs and root-based cures. It also helps that he is married to a registered dietician, who shares her knowledge.
And so, with the passing of his father, he realized it was time to put it all together in a way that would benefit older people. When he met the people at Shepherd and learned about their mission to raise the bar in senior living, he knew he had found a home.
“It comes from the heart,” said Ziegler, who is known as Chef Frank. “Passion is an essential key that drives what you do in life, and then we put that together with the knowledge that comes with experience.”
The extensive experience he brings to Shepherd includes serving as Opening Executive Chef at the famous SEA flagship Pullman Hotels and Resorts; as Executive Chef at Lebua Hotels and Resorts; and as Assistant Director of Culinary Operations at Wynn Macau. He also held prestigious positions with The Peninsula Chicago; The Delano Hotel; The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company; the Mandarin Oriental Hotel; Pavilion le Doyen in Paris; and L’Auberge de l’Ill in Alsace-France, which continues to earn three Michelin stars year after year.
That’s why Shepherd residents enjoy green salads, chives, parsley, cilantro, turmeric, straight-off-the-vine tomatoes, straight-off-the boat seafood, locally sourced meats, home-made jams infused with kefir lime or lemongrass and ginger, medicinal teas with a zip of local honey. His influence means fewer carbs, cream or even cheese – and no processed sugar or ‘factory’ ingredients. But mostly it means delicious and healthy.
“I am crazy about food. It’s part of me, and it’s what I do best,” he said. “After my dad passed away, I thought about doing other things, but I decided to dedicate the rest of my career to seniors and the memory of my parents. I think they would be proud of me today. It makes my day when I see smiles all around me. When residents see our kitchens and our restaurants, it brings back different senses and smells – memories from mom’s kitchen.”
And so while it may seem a long way from proudly working the line in Michelin-starred Francerestaurants, Ziegler is precisely where he wants to be: creating great food for great people.
Co-founded by Christine Menedis and Naveen Trehan, the Shepherd family of companies is tackling the coming demographic wave with insight, vision, and a smile. Shepherd Health is a forward-thinking real estate development company based in Miami Beach, Florida. Shepherd takes pride in integrating advances across numerous sectors into each of its developments and offering investors strategic entry-points into demographically solid industries. Shepherd Senior Living is the operations arm of the Shepherd brand and focuses on integrating wellness, nature, personalized care, and joy into the lives of seniors and their communities across the United States. For more information, visit liveShepherd.com.
SOURCE Shepherd Health
Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of TNC Network.