Finding a job that is a “good fit” can take time, but sometimes it’s smooth sailing and that job finds us. That is exactly what happened to David Prutz, food services director at The Suites at Station Exchange.
“The best things in my life have always happened to me by accident,” Prutz said. “This has been a blessing to me. I come in here everyday and this is where I love to be. I have a passion for cooking. I love to cook. It’s just so great being here.”
Prutz said his interest in cooking came from growing up on his grandmother’s apron strings. Still, it took him a while to find his place. He said his other work experiences prepared him for where he is at now.
After twenty years of management in the transportation and trucking industry, Prutz opened his own ‘casual fine dining’ restaurant called Ailsa’s in Richmond Hill. Business didn’t go as he planned, and he closed Ailsa’s doors of his restaurant after a little over a year.
“Toward the end of the time at the restaurant it was all about the money. Here I can just cook and be happy doing it. I don’t have to worry about the headaches of food costs, payroll, and running a restaurant,” he said.
“We’d have weird things happen. On our slowest night of the week when we didn’t prep much, we’d have a hundred people show up. Then on our busiest night of the week when we were prepped, nobody would show up.
“It was one thing after another, to where the part of it I really loved, the cooking part of it, kind of just got lost. [Working here] brings the cooking part of it right to the forefront.”
Prutz began as a part-timer at The Suites at Station Exchange after his daughter, a health-care worker at The Suites, and the previous Food Services Director encouraged him to apply.
“I love this kitchen. When I first walked in I thought, “Wow! It’s like putting on a shirt and feeling like you’ve owned it for a hundred years. It’s that comfortable feeling. That’s exactly what it felt like when I came here,” Prutz said.
“It’s a very comfortable. One or two people on the hot side and a person on the cold side, and I can serve a hundred people from this kitchen easily. It’s that kind of flow. It’s comfortable.”
Prutz said he enjoys being able to plan well-balanced meals for the residents each day without the number guessing-game of running a restaurant. As well, because The Suites at Station Exchange is an assisted living facility and not a medical facility, he isn’t limited by dietary restrictions and is free to be more creative.
Each day breakfast is served a la carte. Lunch meals include a protein, side and fresh soup, and are typically the main meal of the day. He tries to keep the menu as diverse as the residents. He’s had requests for everything from vegetable soup to ham hocks and navy beans.
“We have a real blend of personalities. We have some residents that were born and raised locally, and then we have some that are transplants.”
Prutz said menu items range from grilled lamp chops to hamburgers, and special meals like steak and lobster to Italian family dinner nights. But no matter what, he always includes the freshest in-season vegetables.
“At 12 o’clock they start rollin’ in for lunch. It’s a very personal atmosphere,” he said. “There’s always an alternative they can order. It’s their kitchen. They can get what they want.”
Prutz may not have planned for his job at The Suites at Station Exchange, but somehow life put him right where he belonged.
“I’m sure a million people have said it,” he said, “but my grandfather told me a long time ago, ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”