Pacifica Senior Living Blog

Sandwich Madness Culinary Competition

Apr 5, 2024 3:10:59 PM / by Carly Dodd, Pacifica Senior Living

Across our communities our amazing chefs and culinary teams are always cooking up something special. We pride ourselves in serving delicious meals for everything from special holiday events to every meal of the day.

Food is one of the most powerful and natural ways people connect with one another, and we love that meal time is often a highlight for many of our residents. Recently, we had a sandwich competition where we encouraged all chefs to create their favorite sandwich which would then be submitting for judging.
Each chef prepared their version of the best sandwich which they served to our residents and team members. We received so many fantastic sandwiches, from garlic knot chicken parmesans to French onion inspired grill cheeses, Po’boys, and classic turkey bacon sammies.

Our chefs love making new and inspiring creations for competitions like this one, which both spark their creativity, but also give our residents something new and exciting to look forward to for meal times.

After much debating, voting and tasting, our entries were narrowed down to a selection of finalists, and then ultimately to the top three winning sandwiches.

We’re sharing the stories, recipes and photos of the top dishes from across our communities. 

Sandwich Competition Winners:


Chef Lourdes of Meridian at Lantana

Chef Lourdes (Lulu) Ortiz has worked for the Meridian at Lantana since 2018, as a Food Service Director. 

Her passion for the art of cooking began at the age of nine, watching her grandmother make meals. Her grandmother loved sharing the cooking process, and telling the stories of the recipes and their origins. 

Throughout the years, Lulu’s passion continued to grow, and she began catering from home. Several years later, she decided to go to culinary school to further her skills and knowledge.

“It was one of my biggest achievements. I accomplished a dream,” she said.

In 2011 she  graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with a degree in Applied Culinary Science. While going to school she also worked her way up in kitchen settings, mastered every station. She became the second female Sous Chef in 15 years for Bongos Cuban Café in Lake Buena Vista, an exciting career accomplishment. 

From there, Lulu ventured to Chicago, a city known for its diverse cuisine. There she had the chance to work with some amazing chefs. The highlight of it all; in her opinion, was working with farm to table food where she gained experience in molecular gastronomy, meat fabrication, and foraging. It was a great learning experience and restaurants she worked in gained recognitions from Bread and Wine and even Michelin. 

Lulu traveled south of Chicago to the small college town of Champaign and had the opportunity to work for the University of Illinois as the creation station chef. This meant she had the chance to make international meals for international students. While working for the college she also worked as a private chef.

Now at Meridian at Lantana as a Food Service Director she shares her past experiences with our residents, with a specific focus on health conscious superfoods, sustainable food options, and comfort food classics - some of our residents’ favorites.

French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe:

Caramelize onions in a frying pan - cooking low and slow for around 45 minutes in a little bit of oil and salt. Cook until onions are browned and softened.

Layer the onions on thick cut Marble Rye, topped with Gouda Cheese, and Muenster Cheese. Grill the sandwich in a small amount of oil or butter until cheese is melted and bread is toasted and browned.

For the sides: hand cut thin sliced sweet potatoes dusted with tajin clasico. This is a Mexican spice consisting predominantly of lime, chili peppers and salt.
Thin cut plantain chips dipped in a cilantro/ lime crema.


Chef Rick Clayton of Pacifica Senior Living Heritage Hills

Chef Rick Clayton works at Pacifica Senior Living Heritage Hills, where he shares his 25+ years of experience with the residents and staff. Over his culinary career Rick has had many different roles, starting as a line cook and working his way up to a Kitchen Manager, Sous Chef, Assistant Restaurant Manager, Executive Chef, and Dining Services Director.

He took two years of culinary school, in both basic and advanced culinary. He enjoys being able to cook each day, and share his love of food with others. “I love to see our residents happy and enjoying our food here at Heritage Hills,” he said. 


Fried Chicken Sliders Recipe

Fried Chicken Sliders with Pimento Cheese, Alabama white BBQ Sauce, and Bread and Butter Pickles.


Marinate Chicken Breast in Buttermilk and Hot Sauce overnight.

Mix all purpose flour, salt, pepper, Garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and smoked paprika together in a mixing bowl. Remove chicken breast from marinade and dredge in flour mixture. Make sure to coat the chicken well. Place chicken in a deep fryer at 350 degrees. Fry until golden brown,  and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Set aside.

Pimento Cheese:

Combine an 8 oz. cream cheese, 2 cups mayo, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, ½ tsp cayenne, one 6oz. can of pimentos, and 4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Mix well and refrigerate.

Alabama White BBQ Sauce: Combine 1 cup mayo, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 3 tsp. water, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. onion powder, ¼ tsp. hot sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.

Assemble the Sliders:

Spread Alabama White BBQ Sauce on bottom bun, then sprinkle some arugula and lay the fried chicken breast on top. Spread a generous amount of pimento cheese over the chicken, and top with bread and butter pickles. Put the top bun on and enjoy. 


Chef Jennifer Ritter of Pacifica Senior Living Klamath Falls

After attending Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Jennifer started her career at a country club in Southern California. From there she later moved to Portland and started working as a Teppenyaki chef for Benihana. Through Benihana  she had the opportunity to work in Australia for a short time, before settling in as Kitchen Manager. Recently, she owned her own local bagel café in Klamath Falls. She continued that business through Covid, but eventually decided to sell the cafe. Now, she works at Pacifica Senior Living Klamath Falls, and is a new addition to our culinary team. “ I am very excited for what the future holds with this company,” she said. 

Ahi Tuna Sandwich Recipe:

This is a Seared Ahi Tuna Steak sandwich on a Brioche Bun.
Ingredients include: Seared Ahi Tuna, Baby Arugula tossed in Balsamic Vinaigrette, Sliced Red Onion, and Lemon Aioli.

Each of our chefs and culinary team members have a unique story of how they came to work with us. We love showcasing their talents, backgrounds and experiences, as well as the delicious recipes and dishes they create day in and day out.

If you haven't had the pleasure of trying a meal in your local community, come by! We offer a complimentary meal with any tour so you can get the full experience of what life would be like here. 

Have a loved one in one of our communities? Come by for a visit and share a meal with them, or RSVP to one of our community events. Our kitchens are always preparing something fantastic. 

Stop in and try it for yourself. 

Come visit us!

Tags: Dining, Recipes & Nutrition