Chef brings culinary talents to Ecumen in New Richland

Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ecumen chef Troy Thompson of New Richland stands with a coconut cream puff with pina colada sauce. Thompson has worked at Ecumen since April. – Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Ecumen chef Troy Thompson of New Richland stands with a coconut cream puff with pina colada sauce. Thompson has worked at Ecumen since April. – Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

‘Delicious above all conception’

NEW RICHLAND — Put Troy Thompson of New Richland in front of a refrigerator, and he will come out with a masterpiece.

As the chef at Ecumen in New Richland, Thompson has the ability to look into a fridge and on the spot use the ingredients inside to put together a meal.

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But not just any meal, that is. He puts together restaurant-quality, gourmet meals.

Thompson started in April at Ecumen, a memory care facility, after several years in the food and beverage industry.

He said his parents owned a small town cafe when he grew up and from a young age he gained an interest in the industry.

Though he obtained a certificate in journalism, and worked for a time at the Faribault Daily News, Rochester Post Bulletin and as a freelancer, he said he made a decision to head in a different direction when he was asked to take over a pub, at the time called Otto’s. The pub was renamed Bailey’s Pub, and he managed it and organized the entertainment and food and beverage.

He said at one point he also ran Torge’s Live Sports Bar & Grille in Austin, along with the food at some resorts in Florida.

Though he has never gone through culinary school, he has gone through official food and beverage training. He has always liked to entertain and has worked alongside numerous chefs over the years, Thompson said.

“Wherever I’ve been, I’ve been hands-on in the kitchen,” he said.

He noted he was attracted to the Ecumen job because it offered a daytime shift Monday through Friday.

“You can’t find that in the food and beverage industry,” he said.

He said he had been pleased with the position thus far.

He cooks lunch, the largest meal of the day for the residents, and dinner, which is typically a lighter meal such as soup and a sandwich.

“I’m very thankful they allow me to come in here and cook for them, “Thompson said. “I really enjoy it because I get to be creative. We can kind of push the issue.”

While he cooks traditional meat and potatoes on some occasions, he has cooked everything from salmon wellington to a tropical pork tenderloin with mango salsa.

“I like to be fun and creative and step outside the box,” Thompson said.

Each week, the activities director teaches the residents about a different country, and Thompson makes a meal that represents that country.

He said he just started a menu that includes alternatives if the residents don’t like the main dish being served.

“He’s very creative,” said Traci Hoppe, resident assistant. “He’s very good at meeting all the residents’ needs. He definitely goes out of his way. You can tell he loves his job.”

He doesn’t only make tasty food, but he makes food that is visually appealing, too.

Resident Margaret Kilbane described Thompson’s food as “delicious above all conception.”

She said she enjoys shrimp and Irish food. The daughter of immigrants, she enjoys a variety of food.

What is Thompson’s favorite food?

He said he loves food from the Caribbean, much of which includes a Southern influence.


Troy Thompson 

Age: 47

Address: Birch Avenue, New Richland

Livelihood: chef at Ecumen, New Richland

Family: four children, Brooklyn, Kaden, Cody and Cole

Interesting fact: Thompson used to frequently swim with dolphins when he lived in Florida.