Our dining is a haven for residents, where they’re “Cravin’ for Ravin!”

| John Knox News, Living at John Knox

Everyone knows that a favorite dining spot can be a welcoming haven. Now imagine living where there are five favorite dining spots! That’s the dining experience at John Knox Village of Central Florida, where Executive Chef Ravin Bissoonduit oversees the creation of everything from magnificently plated masterpieces to down-to-earth comfort food.

Chef Ravin’s introduction to cooking came early, and it was passed down from his great-great-grandfather who had migrated to the Caribbean from Europe in the 19th century. Ravin grew up in Barbados, but he left the island as a 20-year-old lad bound for Rome on a cruise ship. While aboard, he first worked as a dishwasher but spent his time off exploring the basics of cooking. After a break to attend college and earn a bachelor’s degree, Ravin drifted back into the culinary world, working on cruise ships for several more years, finally landing in New York and eventually moving to Florida, where he’s lived ever since.

Ravin went on to attend culinary school in 2005 and interned at a local hotel. While there he was contacted by a representative of John Knox Village in 2006. He worked at the community for four years, then left to travel and opened kitchens at resorts and hotels in the region. We persuaded him to come back to John Knox Village eight years ago, which has proven to be quite fortunate for the residents of the community.

The menus in all five dining venues at John Knox Village change daily, allowing residents to choose their favorites from an astounding 108 different entrées each day. The entrées are complemented by a bounty of wholesome salads, fresh fruit and an assortment of baked goods, all prepared from scratch each day.

“One resident favorite is my JKV salad,” Chef Ravin says, “which we create with local greens, garden-ripe tomatoes, homemade croutons, black olives and cucumbers, and dress it in a house-made ranch flavored with basil, parsley and oregano.”

“Wellness and nutrition are very, very important considerations as I create new dishes and prepare menus. Besides being devoted to from-scratch cooking, we also cater to special and restricted diets, which is important for all residents, but especially so for those in Assisted Living,” Chef Ravin says. Depending on the season, Chef Ravin is careful to source local farm-to-table produce and other ingredients, much of it organically grown.

Grounded in good nutrition, the menus at John Knox Village are also international, often featuring escargot, frog legs and many exotic seafood creations. Ravin draws from the world’s great cuisines to provide residents with a varied and memorable dining experience every day.

Two seniors being served dinner by a female server in the John Knox dinning room.
Seared scallops over grits and topped with fresh roasted asparagus and carrots.

Holidays are important touchstones of tradition, and Chef Ravin and his team love making them extra special. “At Christmas we do turkey, but prepared in a way that’s different from what’s served in a traditional Thanksgiving meal,” Chef Ravin says. “We also offer carved tenderloin of beef, crab cakes, jumbo shrimp—something for everyone.”

A sumptuous New Year’s Eve feast is a yearly highlight of the John Knox Village holiday season. Last year’s menu offered poultry, beef, pork, fish and vegetarian entrees, preceded by a seafood gumbo and a salad with Brussels sprouts, candied pecans, craisins® and pear, served with a delicious sweet sherry dressing. Desserts included scrumptious candy bar pie and chocolate bread pudding with crème anglaise. Chef Ravin is keeping the 2023 New Year’s Eve menu under wraps, but residents are sure to be tantalized with something equally fabulous.

Making a return appearance for the holidays is the Madrigal Dinner; a Renaissance feast event, a totally immersive experience featuring food from the era as well as period costumes, language, and music from the Village Notables and Village Voices. Considering Chef Ravin’s attention to detail, this is sure to be an event that will be remembered and talked about for quite some time!

Of course, Chef Ravin likes to emphasize that dining each day at John Knox Village includes both remarkable and solidly comfortable experiences. “We prepare brunches with made-to-order omelets, French toast, eggs benedict and more,” he says, “and the seated meals at dinner time are very popular and almost always fully booked.”

“No matter what we’re serving, the biggest reward for me is training the cooks to create dishes and prepare menus that make each resident’s dining experience as memorable as it can be. This can be tough to achieve with 800 customers each day, but I love the challenge!”

In addition to “Cravin’ for Ravin” in one of our five great dining venues, residents of John Knox Village love our beautifully appointed homes with a style to suit every taste, plus the dozens of fun clubs and activities, beautiful new state-of-the-art aquatic center, walking trails and paths that traverse the community … and so much more.

It’s also good to know that we’re a Life Plan Community offering residents a full continuum of high-quality, on-campus care services, should the need ever arise. All in all, this is quite a tasty place for enjoying retired life … it’s a true haven!

Each day our residents remind us how special life is at John Knox Village. We encourage you to come for a visit, take a stroll through the campus and experience it for yourself. Better yet, ask about attending an event that will feature Chef Ravin’s outstanding cuisine! Your search for the ideal Central Florida retirement community should begin here. Call us at (386) 775-0788 today to start a conversation.