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Chefin' It Up!


When you think of fall, what comes to mind? Is it the colors, the cool and crisp air, the food? Well, here at Merrill Gardens, we are all about the comfort food that comes with the cooler weather. They don't call it soup season for nothin'!

This month, we will be highlighting several chefs from five of our communities. We reached out and asked them to tell us a bit about themselves along with their favorite fall recipe. And when we tell you you'll be running to the grocery store after reading this, we aren't kidding!

For part one of this series, we chose two chefs. Brandon, our Executive Chef at Merrill Gardens at Tacoma (WA), and Chris, our Executive Chef at Merrill Gardens at Auburn (WA). These two chefs have shown exceptional dedication and talent to their community, and we can't thank them enough for taking the time to share their favorite fall recipe with us.

First up: Brandon Grandy

Brandon was born in Southern California, but eventually made his way up the coast to grow up in Bellevue, WA. He attended college at San Diego State University to study political science and Spanish, but always felt like he had a passion for cooking and worked in several different restaurants. 

Later on in life, he took a job as the Dining Room Supervisor at an independent and assisted living community in San Diego. Even though he worked the front of house, he found himself gravitating towards the kitchen. He eventually took over for his boss as the Executive Chef when the position opened up the following year, and has worked for several senior living communities since. Merrill Gardens at Tacoma has had the pleasure of enjoying his cooking for almost seven years! In his spare time, he runs a woodworking shop out of his garage and builds interior barn doors and farmhouse style furniture for clients all over Washington. He also loves to travel to Mexico, and up and down the west coast.

Brandon's favorite fall recipe is what he calls "Grandma's Potatoes" (seriously, it's his Grandma's recipe, see below). 

According to Brandon, this recipe evolved over the 20 years she had a catering business in the 60's and 70's. It's a staple at all of their family gatherings. He reminisced about going back to college after holiday breaks and bringing Grandma's Potatoes with him - it was gone within a day once word got out that Brandon brought some back. 

While you can pair this delicious recipe with practically anything, Brandon suggests a hearty meat and cooked veggie. You have got to try this recipe:

Grandma’s Potatoes:

  • One 9"x13" casserole dish
  • 8-10 russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 pint of sour cream
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ lb cheddar cheese (+ a bit more for topping)
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste (Brandon uses white pepper)


  1. Peel and steam potatoes whole until fork tender, but not soft enough to turn into mashed potatoes, there should still be some texture to them.
  2. Grate the potatoes and the onion into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add sour cream, butter, and cheese. Mix well.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Spray a 9”x13” casserole dish and fill with potato mixture. Adding all the cold ingredients will cause the mixture to cool and appear a little dry, but resist the urge to add anything else.
  6. Top with additional cheese, cover with foil and bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

Thank you, Brandon, for taking the time to share this awesome recipe with us. Bon appétit! 


The second chef we will be highlighting is Chris Meyer.

Chris was born in Kansas City, Missouri but has been in Seattle for the past 17 years. He attended the Kansas City Art Institute. Chris has held every restaurant title you could think of. He started in kitchen washing dishes, but worked his way up to where he is today, an Executive Chef!

Chris has one son who is 15 months old - his name is Bishop, but he goes by Bizzy. He's already traveled to eight different states! He is engaged to his fiance, who is a bar manager for a restaurant called Electric Cello in the Georgetown neighborhood in Seattle.

Chris' favorite fall recipe is butternut squash soup. Both his son and fiance love it - and I'm sure you will to! This dish is one he learned from his grandmother. She would make it when it got cold outside in Kansas City. They would enjoy a bowl while watching the thunderstorms, or before they went to the plaza lighting ceremony. Truly a family favorite.

Butternut Squash Soup:

  • One butternut squash
  • Heavy cream
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • One onion
  • Sprig of rosemary
  • Dash of sage
  • Minced garlic
  • White wine


  1. Halve the butternut squash and clean the seeds out. Lay olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic salt on the squash. 
  2. Lay skin side up and bake until soft (about 30-45 minutes).
  3. Scoop out the inside of the squash, it should be soft. Mix it with heavy cream until it's to your desired thickness.
  4. Add a bit of brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
  5. In a separate pan, saute minced onions, rosemary, sage, and minced garlic. Cook until brown and then hit the pan with a splash of white wine. Then add the squash.
  6. Take an immersion blender and mix all of the components together.
  7. Pour a small dash of heavy cream to make a spiral on top. Add chopped parsley and feta to taste to finish. 
  8. Serve with toasted baguette.
  9. Enjoy!

We hope you enjoy these fall recipes and stay tuned for a few more throughout the month!

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