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National Puree with Purpose Competition At Lake Forest Senior Living Community

Chef Juan Fernando Ortega of Lake Forest Place preps his entree for the competition

Lake Forest Place Chef Juan Fernando Ortega Competes to Keep His Championship Belt in Chicago Area Puree Competition


LAKE FOREST, IL. – Puree has become an art form at a Chicago-area senior living community. Exquisite tastes of eggs Benedict, vanilla French toast, salmon Wellington, and buttered fettuccine noodles with zucchini are all on the menu. Unidine Corporation, a dining management company that serves senior living communities across the country, hosted its National Puree with Purpose competition in early August. The semi finals are held at three different locations across the country, and the winners at each location then go on to compete in the national finals in Boston.

On Wednesday, August 3, Lake Forest Place senior living community, located at 1100 Pembridge Drive in Lake Forest, hosted five chefs for the East Headquarters competition. Previously, the event at Lake Forest Place crowned Chef Juan Fernando Ortega the winner, and he secured his title once again in 2022. “I love using my creativity and passion to create these works of art to be enjoyed by the seniors who call our community home,” said Chef Ortega.

Pureed food is designed specifically for people who have difficulty chewing or swallowing. The diet can provide nutrition for individuals suffering from many different diseases and conditions.

This competition is designed to show how chefs can provide seniors with high-quality, delicious meals that are also palatable and easy to consume while looking nearly identical to their non-pureed counterparts.

The Unidine Corporation team handled judging. Lake Forest Place residents were invited to watch the chefs as they sliced, blended and thickened ingredients to create their masterpieces. They were judged on the taste, texture, and final appearance of their artistic dishes. The winner received the championship belt and bragging rights.

Chef Ortega came ready for battle and walked away with his second win, featuring a flank steak roulade with sundried tomatoes and spinach, accompanied by tarragon sweet potatoes and roasted beets. His creation for dessert was a sous vide carrot cake with cream cheese icing.

“This is a wonderful competition to showcase the talented culinary teams in senior living communities,” said Unidine Director of Dining Services and Lake Forest Place Dining Director Stephanie Schelle. “These chefs are constantly changing and challenging the status quo of what a puree should look like. Thanks to them, our seniors are enjoying the dining experience more than ever before.”