Chef Fred Keville is now preparing lunches twice a week for seniors in Crestline. (Photo by Ginger Gabriel)
Ninety meals being served to the Crest Forest Seniors at the San Moritz Lodge on a typical Tuesday and Thursday. (Photo by Terry Bollin
Chef Fred and his amazing crew: Val, Candie, June, Scott, Virginia and, in front, Betty. (Photo by Ginger Gabriel)
‘I’ll do it’ – Chef Fred
By Dr. Ginger Gabriel
Special to The Alpine Mountaineer
It was the end of September 2022 and Penny Shubnell found out that the chef for the senior nutrition program would not be returning in October – in one week.
Imagine, if you will, you have 100 people coming for a sit-down dinner, no menu, and no one to cook it even if you did. What are you going to do?
Shubnell and the Crest Forest Senior Citizens Club board of directors and trustees had managed to feed 200 seniors three times a week throughout the 18 months of the COVID shutdown. That comes to about 43,000 meals these dedicated leaders handed out through the drive-through program at the San Moritz Lodge.
If you know Shubnell, you know that she is determined to make sure her seniors don’t go hungry. She was at a loss as to how to keep the program going.
Enter Fred Keville, who walked into Penny Shubnell’s office, sat down and said, “I’ll do it. I want to be your cook.”
Shubnell soon found out this young man came highly recommended by a respected club member.
Chef Fred grew up on a military base near Heidelberg, Germany. It wasn’t a stretch that the military became his career. It was when Captain Fred Keville retired from the Army that he was able to pursue his passion in food preparation. He is a fully qualified chef, having graduated from Texas A & M in culinary arts.
As for his proudest moment as a chef, he replied that it was owning his own restaurant and making it a success – and then adding another successful restaurant – both in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Six years ago, Chef Fred and his wife came up to the mountain for a little vacation getaway. It went through his mind, “This is a perfect place for me.” Three weeks later he had bought a home up here. He was in love with mountain living, the mountain lifestyle and knew he wanted to be here. This mountain checked all the boxes: hiking, skiing, golf, kayaking – all the mountain outdoor sports. Chef Fred said that he loves sports. In school he was involved with baseball, football and wrestling.
Here on the mountain, Chef Fred feels fortunate to have many wonderful neighbors. He said that, as he got to know his neighbors, he was happy that many of them also enjoy the art of preparing food. They began sharing meals and cooking for each other. It was one such neighbor who told him about the dilemma at the senior center.
Chef Fred shared that his position includes planning menus for three months (two meals a week). He then turns the menu plan over to the country-registered dietitian/nutritionist, Terri Lang RDN, whose nutrition guidelines have to be followed. Chef Fred said he and Lang adjust the menus to meet code. The senior lunches are a part of a program that oversees nutritious meals to older adults with an opportunity to socialize with others. The California Department of Aging then oversees all lunch programs.
Under Chef Fred’s management style, everyone seems to know what to do and has been trained how to do it. They all do their jobs; if they see another staff person needing help, they just do it, with a smile.
“I’m a hands-on team leader,” said Chef Fred, who was observed sweeping the floor. “We all get in there and do it. I do it with the team.”
Fred added, “I’ve already owned my own restaurants. I wasn’t looking for a job. I’m retired. I don’t need to work. I retired from the restaurant business. Things were and are going well.
Penny is a neighbor. We’re all neighbors. This is what we do. When there is a problem, you can step in and do what you can.
“I’m cooking for my future self,” Chef Fred said. “Down the road, I’ll be the one who is older in here eating with my friends. I hope there will be a great chef preparing thoughtful meals for me when I’m a senior.”
At this time of year, Chef Fred noted, “We’ve mostly been preparing heavier meals that lean toward comfort foods. As spring approaches, we will lean into seasonal fare with lighter meals.”
In the past, Chef Fred confided, he struggled with weight issues. Now he is more aware of healthier eating. As an aside he said, “You will notice that I will be getting away from heavy desserts.”
In his downtime Chef Fred said he watches cooking shows every day. “I especially like to watch the New Age chefs. They have taken the preparation of food to a new level!”
If you are 60+, or married to a 60+, you both are welcome to join the seniors for lunch at the San Moritz Lodge, 24640 San Moritz Drive, located in the Lake Gregory Regional Park. Hours are Tuesday and Thursday. Doors open at 11:30, lunch begins at noon. For more information call (909) 338-5036.