The Lantern at Morning Pointe Alzheimer's Center of Excellence, Collegedale
Caring Through Cooking
Growing up as a Brazilian-Italian, Ellen Vitorino was no stranger to the kitchen. With food being such an integral part of both cultures, Vitorino has been cooking for as long as she can remember. Her first job as a cook solidified her love for the art form and introduced her to a more health-focused approach – something that serves her well in her current role as the chef at The Lantern at Morning Pointe of Collegedale. Vitorino went on to gain formal training, and along the way, began to specialize in vegetarian and vegan cooking. “Each one of us has that special dish that instantly transports us to another time and place. Cooking is what makes it possible,” she says. Vitorino is not only able to entertain residents with flavorful food, but she also plays a vital role in making sure they are living their best, healthiest lives and are getting the nutrients they need, which in memory care often means finger foods and specialty diets.
Instituto Estadual Paula Sousa – Sao Paulo, Brazil
1. What do you love most about your profession?
What I love about my job is the combination of creativity and purpose. The possibility of mixing ingredients and creating different dishes every day is combined with helping people be healthier and feel good. It’s the perfect combination!
2. How long have you been in your current role?
I’ve been cooking professionally since 1999 but leading The Lantern kitchen since January of 2023.
3. What is your philosophy when it comes to the care of your patients?
It is to cook with the heart and to bring joy and health to all my residents.
4. What does your day-to day look like?
Leading a kitchen is a lot of non-routine tasks, and every day is different. Between ordering supplies, organizing schedules, putting menus together, and cooking, there are many things that the job demands, but I like the variety.
5. What influenced you to pursue your career?
I am Brazilian, but my family is Italian. I was raised with both cultures and food is a big part of each of them. My first job as a cook was cooking vegan meals for a healthy lifestyle center. The most important part of that job was the purpose. Part of the treatment was to change patients’ diets to help the body detox and heal. That made all the difference for me.