Chef Jeremy Constance conducts cooking classes open to the public at Senior Star at Villa Ventura.
Artist. Cook. Golfer. The chef at Villa Ventura has it all!
By D’Ann Dreiling
“The school of hard knocks,” says Jeremy Constance, when asked where he learned to cook. “My first job was at the Pizza Hut in Blue Springs. That’s where I met my wife. I was 21 and she was 17. We’ve been cooking together ever since.”
Constance is head chef at Villa Ventura, a retirement community at 121st and Wornall. Although he earned a BA degree in art from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, he knew he wanted to cook and play golf. He combined his passions by becoming a sous chef at the Forest Park Golf Club in St. Louis. When he realized he was better at cooking than golf, he and his wife Janet moved to New York City where he accepted a position in an upscale restaurant. After deciding to start a family, they returned to Kansas City where they had grandparents, siblings and extended family.
Constance has been chef at Villa Ventura for the last 8 years. “ l love the culture, the environment, and the people who call this home,” he says. He also loves to please the residents with good home cooking. Some of their favorite dishes are boiled shrimp, pot roast, spaghetti and meatballs, and every Friday, fried chicken. Wednesday is a themed luncheon buffet which includes French, German and Asian cuisine. Once a month there is a candlelight dinner.
Constance also offers monthly cooking demonstrations to the public at Villa Ventura in an effort to teach people how to make fresh and healthy foods. The most recent one, held September 17, was on cooking pasta.
When asked to share a recipe, he didn’t hesitate. “On pub nights (happy hour) and special occasions, we serve appetizers. The community favorite is my “world famous” spinach dip and homemade pita chips.”
Here’s the dish…
Chef Jeremy’s Spinach Dip with Pita Chips
8 oz.-pkg. cream cheese
10 oz.-pkg. frozen chopped spinach
1 14oz.-can of artichoke hearts drained and finely chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Thaw spinach and squeeze out moisture. Add all ingredients to pot on stove over low heat until cheeses melt and ingredients are blended. Add garlic salt and pepper to taste.
1 pkg. unpocketed pita bread or flat bread
Cut each round into 8 triangles
Toss triangles in oil until well coated, then arrange on a sheet pan and sprinkle with garlic salt. Bake in a preheated oven at 425* for 8 to 10 minutes until brown on bottom. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and additional salt if needed.