David Crespo grew up with a single mom and a home full of siblings. When his mom was at night school, Crespo was in charge of cooking for the younger kids.
“I grew up in a very bad neighborhood with gangs and violence,” Crespo says. “I turned to sports and cooking to keep me busy and away from all that. The kitchen kept me off the streets and out of trouble.”
After high school, Crespo kept cooking, working as a cook, cook supervisor, and assistant food service director at various rehabilitation centers as well as the executive chef at a Sheraton Hotel.
In March, Crespo became the newest member of The Ivy at Watertown family, joining the assisted living and memory care community as its Food Service Director.
“Dave’s wealth of culinary experience in a variety of settings and his kind and compassionate personality will set the dining services up for exceeding our resident’s expectations,” says The Ivy at Watertown Executive Director Jason Rieger.
Fresh Food, Fresh Start
As Food Service Director, Crespo believes it’s his role to “do everything and anything to make our residents comfortable, happy, and satisfied.”
Rather than the cookie-cutter offerings other assisted living facilities have, The Ivy at Watertown allows and encourages residents to customize their meals.
“We have an everyday breakfast menu and an everyday all-day menu that residents and residents can select their meal options from the menu, just as they would in any restaurant,” Crespo says. “We also offer two alternate specials that I create every day for lunch and dinner.”
Of Puerto Rican heritage, Crespo likes to inject many different flavor profiles into his cooking, from Italian and Mediterranean to Caribbean and American. With many local farms and markets in the Watertown area, Crespo is able to use the freshest ingredients available.
“So far this week we’ve served Swedish meatballs, eggplant parmesan, pot roast, garlic chicken over pasta, ravioli and meat sauce, red potato mash,” he says. “The residents loved everything.”
Crespo loved cooking the food, too.
“It’s a brand new facility with a brand new kitchen. Who doesn’t like a start fresh?” Crespo says. “At The Ivy, we’re really upping the flavor and presentation as well as working one on one with the residents and getting to know what they like and don’t like. I want to wow them when they’re looking at it, wow them when they’re eating it, and wow them when they’re finished — and as of right now, they’re cleaning their plates and eating everything we’re giving them.”
Eating with Family
Crespo, who grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut, loves driving into Watertown every day for work.
“It’s like leaving home and coming somewhere nicer,” he says. “Everybody treats you like family — and The Ivy is the same way.”
Although Crespo has only been with The Ivy for a few months, he says working for a family-run company is different from anywhere else he’s worked.
“They’re so down to earth. They’re so understanding. They don’t stereotype. They’ll do anything they can to help you with whatever it is you need help with,” he says. “It’s like being home. It’s not easy to find a company to work for like that.”
For Crespo, cooking for The Ivy at Watertown residents is like cooking for family.
“It’s comforting when you have good food and you're around good people,” Crespo says. “I love to tickle people’s bellies. I like the smile on their face when they see the food, when they taste the food. That’s almost the only payment I need.”
If you want to see what The Ivy at Watertown family is all about — and taste one of Crespo’s creations — schedule a tour or a virtual tour of The Ivy at Watertown today.