For Brightview Fair Oaks Executive Chef Luis Lopez, cooking has been synonymous with family and love his entire life.
Growing up, Luis’s family was very involved in the culinary business. His father ran two bakeries, and his mother also opened a family restaurant. “In high school, while everyone was going to a party, I was working in the bakery,” Luis said.
Luis attended culinary school in Miami and then embarked on a culinary career that took him across the country, working in resorts in California and serving the military in the nation’s capital. He worked as a contractor for the United States Naval Academy, CIA, and National Defense University, serving top government officials and high-ranking generals.
At the start of the pandemic, Luis switched gears and started working in the kitchen at Brightview Bethesda Woodmont. “I saw the opportunity to do more there,” he said. “There was more life balance. I have a young daughter, and I want to spend time with her instead of working crazy hours for the government.”
Luis gladly accepted the opportunity to open the new Brightview Fair Oaks community. “People have high expectations, and I love the challenge,” he said. “I never give up until I conquer my challenges.”
He also has a personal connection to senior living, and in particular, those living with dementia. His grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and as the disease progressed, she had difficulty eating well. Luis started cooking her fancier meals and would serve her as if she was in a restaurant. That effort made an impact on her appetite and health. “If I can do that and please her, I can do that for other people,” Luis said.
Growing up in Puerto Rico, Luis loves Caribbean food – it makes him feel like he’s at home. Recently, Luis created a Puerto Rican dinner to showcase his home cuisine to the residents. He’s excited for other dining team members at Brightview Fair Oaks to represent their cultural cuisine with special menus in the future.
Whether he is creating meals for residents at Brightview Fair Oaks or hanging out with family and friends on the weekends, Luis is his happiest when he is cooking. “I’m a family guy, and every weekend we have barbeques in the summer,” he said.
In addition to cooking for his family, Luis also likes to give back to people experiencing homelessness. After Luis struggled with the financial demands of school and housing while in Miami, he made it a point to give back. He regularly makes and passes out meals in Franklin Square Park in Washington, DC, especially after holidays. He’s passed out over 400 meals in a single day.
Most important to Luis in any of his roles is to infuse love into all his meals. “It makes a difference when you love what you do. I believe, through food, you can change a really dreary day into a good day.”
Brightview Senior Living builds, owns, and operates award-winning vibrant senior living communities in eight states along the East Coast: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. We offer senior Independent Living, Assisted Living, Enhanced Care, and Wellspring Village®, a specialized neighborhood for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Schedule a personal visit to experience our communities firsthand.