Renarda Mayo and Roberta Gallagher from Seven Tree Manor in Union, a Davis Long Term Care Group facility, recently participated in the first annual Long Term Care Culinary Challenge… Cooking for a Cause, to benefit the Mike McNeil Scholarship Fund.

Mayo and Gallagher competed against 14 culinary teams representing nursing homes and assisted living facilities from around the state to raise money for the fund that provides scholarships for individuals affiliated with Maine’s long term care facilities. The event was sponsored by the Maine Health Care Association and Sysco Northern New England, with generous contributions of time and products from Southern Maine Community College Culinary Arts program and Direct Supply.

Teams consisted of two cooks each who prepared a three-course meal using specified ingredients supplied by Sysco. Teams had two hours to complete the task and were judged on a 100-point scale by a team of certified chefs, including Sysco Executive Chef Gary Sheldon. Mayo and Gallagher prepared Devilish Salmon Puffs, Greek Salad with Pepperoncini, Roman Style Chicken with Marinated Char-Grilled Shrimp Skewers and Risotto with Asparagus for the judges’ consideration. Each team received a gift bag and certificate of appreciation for participating in the event.

According to MHCA President and CEO Richard A. Erb, “Not only are we raising money for a good cause, this competition illustrates the level of professionalism and talent we have in our food service employees. It exemplifies a growing trend in Maine’s long term care facilities that incorporates individual resident choice and preferences in dining. Thanks to the expertise of these food service professionals, the dining experience has changed dramatically in our state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities.”

Since its inception in 2007, the fund has enabled 27 individuals to pursue their educational goals in long term care. Eligible fields of study include nursing, physical or occupational therapy, speech pathology, social work, activities and food service.