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New cooking program sparks engagement in residents and staff

Food has a way of bringing people together.

That’s why Topeka Presbyterian Manor started a new program in January called “Teaching Kitchen,” where residents are taught how to create delicious dishes and the health benefits of the ingredients.

“It’s a new concept,” said Atul Karki, dining services director. “The idea is to increase engagement in residents through a fun, educational program.”

Each month Atul and his staff come up with a tasty, healthy recipe that’s easy for residents to put together. Each participant in the “Teaching Kitchen” has their own work space and ingredients are portioned out precisely. Atul said they go all out to make residents feel like they’re taking a professional cooking class.

“It’s a nice setup with a big kitchen backdrop,” he said.

While residents are taught how to make recipes that can be easily recreated in their own apartments, they also learn about the health benefits of the ingredients used in the dish.

“Our dietician goes through all the health advantages of each recipe,” Atul said.

The program has been popular with residents, so it was extended to staff in May. Employees had a great time working together and learning a new recipe.

“It was a team-building exercise,” Atul said. “The employees loved it.”

He said they plan to continue “Teaching Kitchen” as a monthly program and involve associates at times.

“It’s educational, engaging and it’s something very fun,” Atul said.

Here’s a recipe from the “Teaching Kitchen” shown in the photos: Avocado Fruit Salad.


  1. Mix salad ingredients together.
  2. Mix dressing ingredients together.
  3. Pour dressing over salad, chill and serve!

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