Retirement cooking with a touch of class

Publish Date:

Thursday, June 27, 2013


News Organization:

The Sentinel

Source URL:

BETHESDA – Cooking in a retirement home may not seem like a challenge. Many residents are on special diets and the food may not have much flair, although it’s a safe bet for it to be soft and low-sodium. But what happens when a retirement home evolves into a resort-like facility with world-class amenities and well-traveled and wealthy residents? The food goes from traditional to adventurous. That’s what cooking for the residents at Fox Hill luxury retirement community in Bethesda is like.

Chef Henning Lorenzen is the food and beverage director and executive chef at Fox Hill. Lorenzen has worked as a chef at the Sydney Opera House and George Michael’s restaurant, Scarborough, in the North Yorkshire section of London, as well as in Denmark and Germany; he also owned three top-rated Washington area restaurants.

He said cooking for Fox Hill residents, who include former doctors, businessmen, lawyers and ambassadors from around the world, is one of the biggest challenges he has taken on.

 Julie Sabag, director of marketing at Fox Hill, said Lorenzen is the right man for the job.

“Chef Lorenzen’s experience in a wide range of cuisines enables him and his staff to please the tastes of owners who have traveled the world to those who enjoy more traditional fare,” Sabag said. “Our four venues offer fine to casual dining, so there is a great amount of diversity and excitement on the menus every day.”

Lorenzen was born in a hotel owned by his grandmother on a small Danish island. As a child, Lorenzen was fascinated with the chefs and decided he wanted to do what they were doing for a living. At 15 years old, he decided to forego the rest of his formal schooling and attend a year of preparation for culinary school.

Lorenzen lived in Germany for six months and then worked a three-year fellowship before completing culinary school in 1987. Lorenzen worked in London and Sydney before moving to the U.S. in 1992 to be with his wife, who was his girlfriend at the time.

After working as the Capitol district chef for Marriott Management Service and the executive chef of the World Bank in Washington, Lorenzen opened Wurzburg Haus, a German restaurant that was rated by Washington Magazine as one of the top 100 restaurants in the region every year from its opening year in 2000 until it closed in 2005. Lorenzen then owned the Blue Ox in Olney and Henning’s in Frederick before being forced to close both in 2007due because of an economic downturn.

In 2007, Lorenzen applied for a position at Fox Hill but didn’t hear back until 2008, when the former food and beverage director left. He has been in charge of every food item, waiter and drink ever since.

Lorenzen’s duties include managing a staff of 50 waiters, managers, sous chefs, bartenders and specialty chefs, including a sushi chef, a pastry chef and a display chef. He is also responsible for hiring staff, making sure all shifts are filled, updating the menu, and keeping the in house store stocked.

“If you work in a restaurant or hotel, people move on and the next day, it is somebody else. It is a hard job in that way: You always have to keep them happy and interested because you literally get the same people every day,” Lorenzen said.

Fox Hill condominiums start at $500,000, and amenities include a recording studio, library, art studio, bank, business center, fitness center, spa and beauty salon, and simulated golf course including courses throughout the world.

In an effort to please the pallet of his customers who have eaten at upscale locations around the world, Lorenzen changes the menu every two weeks. The menu staples include grass-fed filet of beef, Maryland crab cakes,and rack of lamb. There is also a less formal option that specializes in casual dining. Residents have the option of ordering room service or buying their dinner from the convenience store. There is also an onsite coffee shop that is similar to a Starbucks.

The dining facility is not open to the public, but for anyone who wants to sample Lorenzen’s dishes, Fox Hill will host a free luncheon event called Dine and Discover on July 11 and July 17, both at 11:30 p.m.

For those interested in trying a Chef Lorenzen creation in the comfort of their own home, Lorenzen has provided this recipe.

Grass-Fed Beef Tenderloin with Boursin Rosti Potato, Wilted Spinach and Morel Sauce


1 eight oz. beef tenderloin

1 large or two small Idaho potatoes shredded

2 tablespoons Boursin cheese (can be substituted for cream cheese with added garlic, herbs, pepper)

3 cups baby spinach

1 tablespoon Plugra butter (a higher fat butter but any butter may be used)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 cups veal stock (1 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of beef stock may be substituted)

½ cup Marsala wine

¾ cup 40 percent heavy whipping cream

6 hydrated morel mushrooms (available at Farmer’s markets but chanterelles or shiitakes work well)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 sprig of fresh thyme



Season beef with salt and pepper, sear for 2 minutes on each side.  Remove from pan and finish in convection oven for 8 minutes at 450 degrees (475 for standard oven). Let beef sit for 8-10 minutes before serving.

 Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat and add ½ tablespoon of Plugra butter and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Once hot, add half of the shredded potato, season with salt and pepper, and then evenly distribute Boursin cheese on top.


Use remaining shredded potato to cover the Boursin cheese and season with salt and pepper. When bottom of Rosti potato is a light golden brown, turn over and place in a convection oven at 325 degrees (350 for standard oven) for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Remove from oven and keep warm.


In a small pot reduce Marsala wine by half, then add thyme, veal stock, heavy cream and morel mushrooms. Reduce sauce unit it coats the back of a spoon, season to taste, remove from heat and keep warm.


Heat a non-stick pan with remaining butter. Once hot, add spinach and season with salt and pepper. As soon as spinach begins to soften and turn deep green, remove from heat.


To Plate:

Place Rosti potato in center of plate, pile wilted spinach on top and centered on the potato, place beef on top of spinach and pour morel sauce over beef and serve.

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