|Chef is tops in Texas|
Chef Charles Duit loves to see people smile.
"Making people happy is the most rewarding part of my job," he says. "It always makes my day when I see someone with a big smile on their face after they finish a meal."
Duit, a certified executive chef, has been our director of Food Services the past seven years. An accomplished chef with more than 33 years experience in the food service industry, Duit is known for putting everything he's got into his work.
In June, Duit was named Beaumont's favorite chef in the annual Readers' Choice Awards sponsored by the Beaumont Enterprise. Every year, the newspaper asks readers to choose their favorites in several categories. Readers also voted Calder Woods as their favorite retirement community for the sixth consecutive year.
Duit, who is currently serving his second term as president of the Texas Chefs Association, won a bronze medal this summer at the Texas Expo Culinary Competition in Dallas.
"We're so proud to have Charles as part of our team here at Calder Woods," Executive Director Ben Mazzara said. "It's been a joy to see him as he interacts with residents and their families. He loves to make everyone feel important and they all recognize how much he loves to serve them."
Since his arrival at Calder Woods, Duit has never slowed down. He has helped implement programs to reward not only residents but the staff as well.
Residents especially enjoy the chef's Sunday buffets, which feature an assortment of salads, fresh fruits and vegetables, main entrees, delectable desserts, and omelets made to order. They also look forward to the special creations he whips up for holiday parties and social events.
Once a month, he comes in during a late shift to lift the spirits of hard-working employees. He prepares spaghetti and meatballs and other dishes or brings in pizza just for the nurses and other aides working late hours.
"The people I work with and the residents become like family to me," he said. "They are people I care about and I want to please them. That makes my job so much more meaningful."
Duit doesn't spend all of his work week at Calder Woods. He also finds time to be a full-time chef instructor at Lamar University. He started as an adjunct instructor on the Beaumont campus 12 years ago. He teaches all of the culinary lab classes, plus other courses in the family consumer science hospitality management program.
Some of his students end up finding full-time jobs at Calder Woods or in local restaurants. Six Lamar students have come through the kitchen at Calder Woods for internships or regular work. Two are now executive chefs at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont. Another graduate works as an executive chef at a popular, up-scale restaurant in town.
Duit stays active in community and civic affairs, often volunteering his time to support non-profit agencies in fund-raising activities. He also finds time to serve on the local and state boards of the Texas Restaurant Association and the Education Foundation and the state board for Hospitality Educators of Texas.
"Most of all, I love working at Calder Woods because it allows me to be me," he says. "It gives me the chance to work in a Christian environment where I get to serve with gladness."
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