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July 22, 2022

Cedar Trails Senior Living Thanks and Celebrates Its Culinary Director

Category: Senior Living

Author: Lee Bohannon-Smith, Executive Director

Fun Fact: The hat that chefs wear is called a Toque Blanche, which means white hat in French. It is believed that the height of the hat symbolizes the seniority and rank of the chef in the kitchen and the folds in the hat express the qualification of the chef.

Culinary art is the mastery of preparing, cooking, and presenting food. Culinarians, or Chefs, are experts in this field and can be found in hotels and restaurants around the world. The depth of their talent extends far beyond the kitchen. Chefs also have a profound understanding of design, food science, nutrition, and diet.

Culinarians Day, held annually on July 25th, is a day to thank and celebrate the people who impact our experience with food in such meaningful ways. Worldwide, this day is a time to appreciate the art of cooking and is often commemorated with events and competitions. At Cedar Trails Senior Living, we will be honoring our amazing Culinary Director, Divina “Dee” Garcia, and their team!

Divina has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. She has worked in the culinary industry in multiple countries, including the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, as well as various long-term care communities. Dee loves to host parties for friends and family that include cooking and karaoke, even though she can’t sing. When not working, she enjoys hiking, gardening, and reading. Dee says she would like to cook for any United States President, so she could visit the White House.

The signature sweet our Culinary Director prepares for our community is gooey butter cake cookies. She enjoys making them because the residents love them. Her favorite dish to make is anything on the grill. If not at the grill, she likes to make meatloaf.

Our Culinary department shines because the director and staff care about their residents. Dee is always checking to make sure residents and families are happy and that the food is always delicious. She takes pride in what she serves, but more importantly gives quality one-on-one interaction with the residents. Our Sous Chef, Deana, follows the same mindset as Dee. They provide great support to each other. We could not do what we do at Essen without this hardworking team!

 If you want to join in the Culinarian Day fun, you can toast the day with your friends and family by cooking some new recipes! Embrace the celebration by sharing pictures or video of the recipe and your adventures on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. tagged with #CulinariansDay.


Cedar Trails Senior Living in Freeburg, IL offers independent senior apartments, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. Centrally located near St. Elizabeth’s Hospital with convenient access to major shopping centers, including The Orchards Golf Club, Target, Eckerts Belleville Farm, Braeutigam Orchards, and the Belle Clair fairgrounds & Expo Center.

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