As a fifth-generation Texan, Chef Stephan Pyles wants his cuisine to reflect his roots. That devotion to capturing the flavors of Texas led him to be known as the father of Southwestern cuisine and regarded as one of the most acclaimed American chefs of the past three decades.
Growing up in his family’s West Texas truck stop café, Pyles delighted in the smells of fried chicken and enchiladas – but as he watched travelers from around the country come together over the dishes prepared by his parents, he realized even at a young age that food is more than sustenance.
Food is community.
Inspiring community in Buckner senior living communities through food
That sense of community through food is what Pyles wants to bring to his new role as chief culinary advisor for Buckner Retirement Services.
“Seniors seem to have a greater sense of community than most other age groups,” Pyles said. “They seek a place to gather where they can nourish both their bodies and their souls with good food. I’m honored to help facilitate that.”
Buckner previously collaborated with the James Beard Award-winning chef to craft a new type of elevated dining experience for senior adults ahead of the opening of Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, Texas, in October 2019. The successful collaboration led to Pyles’ expanded role.
“I came to Ventana thinking it would be typical of my other consultancies, but I was most pleasantly surprised,” Pyles shared. “It’s been a richly rewarding experience on so many levels. Both the talented culinary team and the gracious members have been a joy to work with.”
“After almost four years with Ventana, I have developed an incredible respect for Buckner and have been made to feel part of the family. Therefore, I was thrilled at the opportunity to get to expand my work with more of their communities.”
Adding his culinary flair across Texas
In addition to Ventana by Buckner, Pyles will now help enhance the culinary experiences at Buckner Villas in Austin, Calder Woods in Beaumont, Parkway Place in Houston, and Buckner Westminster Place in Longview.
Pyles will work with the communities’ culinary teams to expand their menus with seasonal, local and fresh touches selected by Pyles. The menus will also include an array of signature dishes popular at many of Pyles’ 23 restaurants over the past 32 years. He will also create specialty international tastings and dinners and refresh the communities’ beverage programs to include inventive mocktails.
Special events featuring Pyles are scheduled at each Buckner community throughout the year.
“The resident response to our announcement was phenomenal,” said Charlie Wilson, president of Buckner Retirement Services. “While we have always been proud of the dining experience our communities offer, I am excited to see how a phenomenal chef of Stephan Pyles’ caliber is able to provide even more variety with an emphasis on fresher and more locally sourced ingredients.”
Added Pyles, “As we age, good food becomes more and more important. Food absolutely inspires happiness, and it makes such imminent sense that Buckner would have such a wonderful food program.”