Meet Paul Calbert: Chef Extraordinaire

The table settings were perfect, and sprigs of freshly picked forsythia graced each table as warm morning sun streamed in the windows. Soft music emanated from a vintage repro radio, and maitre d' Gussie Kavitsky was at her station, ready to rebuff any crashers, preachers or peddlers. In the kitchen, the big man was hunkered over the stove, putting the finishing touches on some delectable-looking quiches. A generous serving of fresh fruit salad was at each place setting, along with chilled orange juice and a basket of muffins. The coffee cups were generously-sized, which is always a good sign.

Although it was still fifteen-minutes until opening, most tables were already filled; and the conversation was animated and interspersed with laughter as the patrons exchanged morning pleasantries. It had all the earmarks of a party in the offing.


The setting may very well have been some trendy pricey breakfast nook in Northampton or Amherst, but instead it was Chef Paul's monthly brunch at our own Senior Center! Being a Senior Center, I was prepared for cereal with skim milk, maybe one egg (poached), dry toast and black coffee. Forget that! While working on the fruit bowl and OJ, my waitress (Director of Volunteer Services Candy Stillerman) brought out the entrée. I was looking at a good-sized slab of quiche - loaded with lean ham, crisp bacon strips, hot sausages, and cottage fries - even garnished with a sprig of parsley! It was the full Monte, the real deal, and not for the faint of heart. Price: TWO BUCKS!! How do they do it?


The conversation abated just a bit as patrons got busy with the fare; and Candy and Gussie went from table to table with ice water and fresh coffee. Paul's excellent staff, consisting of Carole Spada, Rudy Lachut, and Judy Perry, kept the entrees coming out until everyone was faced with the daunting task of finishing them.

I went into the kitchen later to meet the wizard himself. Chef Paul Calbert is a man of generous proportions and of generous spirit as well. Unlike the many petulant and temperamental chefs I have met in my day, Paul is an easy-going fellow who seems to take life in stride as a good leader and team player as well. The camaraderie between Paul, his staff, and the patrons is refreshing to see. That kind of harmony and synergy finds its way into the foods they serve, as well.

Prior to coming to the Senior Center 15 months ago, Paul had retired as Director of Food Services for the entire Southwick-Tolland Regional School District. He told me "If I didn't keep busy after retirement I'd be probably a goner by now." We're glad to keep him busy! During the summer months, Paul serves over 900 meals a day at the YMCA's Camp Mohawk in Cornwall Connecticut. This will be his 16th season there.


Chef Paul's Brunch is an 11 AM monthly gathering, a cheerful affair, and a great bargain. The venue is the spacious dining room at the Longmeadow Senior Center, but the brunch is open to all ages. Five days a week, at noon, lunch is served in the same location. The quality and the quantity are the same: five-star. Reservations are a definite prerequisite. If your name is not on Gussie's list, you're going to have to charm your way in like I did. Chef Paul needs to know in advance how much to prepare. Menus can be found at the Senior Center's webpage, or in the Center's monthly newsletter. Those unable to make it to the Center can sign up for meals-on-wheels and get the same fare delivered right to their door for the same price. As of now, the Center delivers approximately 40 meals a day.

After eating you can stop in the Maple Tree Gift Shoppe, join the bridge club or one of the other healthy programs available at this remarkable resource center! For additional information, please visit the Senior Center's section of this website.

N.B. Chef Paul's last brunch of this season will be on May 21st at 11AM. This is bound to be a very special event, so please make your reservations early!!