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The Healing Power of Culinary at Santé® of Chandler

Creating masterful dining that aids in healing and well-being

According to the Mental Health Foundation, what we eat doesn’t just affect our physical health it can also affect our mental health and wellbeing. This is especially true to those recovering from an illness or injury. At Santé of Chandler, “Our vibrant culinary program plays a large part in providing a sense of comfort, well-being and joy not only to residents but to their family members, and guests”, says Melissa Tinajero Culinary Director for Santé of Chandler.

Helping to cook delicious, homemade, food for guests and their families in their time of need is exactly what motivated Tinajero to pursue her career. Tinajero shares that she got into healthcare in 2008 and she is grateful for the difference she can make in peoples’ lives.  As Culinary Director, she can shop for guests who have specific dietary needs and create scrumptious menus with ingredients that not only taste fabulous but can address food sensitivities, allergies, and other special dietary needs.

Some of the fun choices on the menu feature a burger of the week, house-made soups like butternut squash, (which is first roasted before is goes into the creamy base) and homemade Italian meatballs, made from scratch with orzo. There is the much requested Reuben sandwich and mouthwatering salads.  The culinary team pays close attention to the guest’s input and although it is very rare, if something isn’t popular it will be taken off the menu.

She goes on to say, the food at Santé of Chandler is legendary. One of the reasons is Executive Chef Victoria Tan. Tan has been with Santé for over 10 years and brings an impressive background of experience to the table. This includes an externship in Spain, working for the Wynn in Las Vegas, and experience working in some of the top-rated restaurants of the world. Tinajero explains that a great deal of thought and preparation goes into the menus. They create many of the menus from scratch, utilizing fresh, health promoting ingredients.


Favorite Menu Items

  • Strawberry Walnut Chicken Salad/Cobb Salad with Avocado chopped bacon
  • House Made Soups- Italian Meatball, Orzo and Roasted Butternut Squash
  • Rueben
  • Specialty Burgers, Brie and Blackberry, Barbeque, Sweet and Spicy Hawaiian, and Pizza
  • Top Notch Spaghetti

These are just a few of the tasty choices prepared with health as a top priority.  Santé provides an in-house Dietetic technician and a Dietician to educate the guests on how to make the best healthy choices for their diets. According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging, 1 in 4 older Americans has poor nutrition. Tinajero emphasizes the culinary crews’ dedication, longevity, and willingness to work hard to provide the best possible food for the guests of Santé of Chandler. She goes on to say, “I have the best job in the business, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in peoples’ lives.

Recipe for Sante of Chandler’s Meatball Orzo Soup

Italian Meatball Soup

  • To Make the Meatballs:
  • 12 oz. Italian sausage ~ 4 oz. ground beef
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1/2 onion ~ small dice
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • couple shakes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg

~ combine all and roll into 1/2 inch balls and bake for 10 minutes at 350


             To Make the Broth:

  • 1 pound frozen diced Carrots
  • 1 Small Onion ~ Diced
  • 3 stalks Celery ~ small diced
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano, dried
  • 1 tsp Parsley
  • Salt + Pepper
  • 2 Tbsps. Olive Oil

~ Sautee Above items until onions are translucent

Add 6 cups of prepared chicken stock

~ Bring to a boil


1 can of Italian diced tomatoes

1 cup of Orzo

~ Boil for 7 minutes


~ Meatballs

  • ~ 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Let Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until Orzo is soft
  • Finish with a sprinkle of parmesan when serving


About Santé

Santé was founded in 2008 on the premise of reshaping the way guests and patients receive care, believing that compassion has the power to heal, transform, inspire, and comfort. Santé specializes in short-term skilled nursing, rehabilitation and outpatient therapy, home health, palliative and hospice care in Surprise, North Scottsdale, Mesa and Chandler. For more information, visit

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