Tom “Fritzie” Fritz, Director of Culinary Services at The Waters of Excelsior featured on Choice Connections

August 6, 2022 | Choice Connections

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With hundreds of senior living communities to choose from in the twin cities, food is the visible point of competition. And it’s not just flavors but presentation and service. Winning on all these fronts for the same diners day after day without becoming a Ground Hog Day loop is quite a feat.

Fritzie has over 40 years foodservice to his credit from scrubbing pots to the heights of fine French cuisine and commercial catering from here to Colorado and points in between. He has labored at, managed and owned restaurants as well as taught others the culinary arts and business. When he arrived at The Waters he discovered a new satisfaction meeting seniors’ needs and demands. And he and his crew ring the bell regularly.

Nutrition and Production; meet Deliciousness and Dignity

“Our residents are very sophisticated and very nice. The comments we regularly receive are vastly positive.” said Fritzie of their diners. His formal French cuisine experience both preparing and serving is a great playbook to draw on in keeping flavors and presentation artistic and exciting. Every day includes Chef’s Special creations to look forward to. Fritzie is well liked by residents and builds rapport by listening and giving diners what they request. Residents love the special attention in the dining room. With frequent table-side service “They feel like they are in New York City.” says Fritzie. He’s always asking, “How can we present it?!” to keep it fresh and fun.

Caramelized Raisin Chutney Pork Shank; Baked Chicken Thighs, Wild Mushroom Wine Sauce, Florentine Risotto; New York Strip Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Peppercorn Bourbon Sauce; SW Chicken Wrap, Lettuce, Tomato, Swiss, SW Avocado Crema. These are just some of the menu items Fritzie and his crew create regularly.

Experience, knowledge, integrity and heart is his management Quatre épices(4-spice)

The knowledge and experience to put out such delectables is one thing. Having the crew to deliver on a regular basis, is another matter.

Having seen the bad and the good in operations over the years, Fritzie’s management ethos is that of servant.  His crew of 8-9 chefs, servers and dishwashers are his focus for helping out during each shift. He floats amongst them handling whatever might be overloading them. “Can I make your soup? Chop your carrots? What has you in the weeds that I can help with?” He’s just as likely on the floor fixing a piece of equipment rather than waiting on the service company.

In asking what drives a smooth operation Fritzie thought a moment and he said I really like the Waters’ team meetings.  Keeps everybody together.” Then he added “Ego. That’s the deal breaker in a kitchen. You know what it stands for?!  ‘Edging God Out’. He clearly checks his at the kitchen door.

The payoff here is that all but one of his staff have been with him nearly the three years he’s been at The Waters. In this staffing environment that is stellar performance.

In asking how he maintains his exuberance for the work and his people he popped “You have to keep being a shooting star because… You’re only as good as your last meal!”

“Thomas “Fritzie” is a leader that never settles for the ‘status quo.’ His passion and dedication for seniors goes well beyond the walls of the kitchen and dining room. Building relationships with our residents and their families is important to Fritzie and that makes all the difference in the world.” 

Kari Stolz RD, LD, LALD  National Director Food, Beverage & Procurement