Charles Johnson’s Story

“I had a friend who had worked here since it opened,” says Charles Johnson, as he reminisces on his beginnings at St. John’s Meadows. “She told me about the job opening and I applied and got the job in the kitchen.”

Johnson has been a cook in the St. John’s Meadows kitchen since 2004 and he says he still finds happiness on the job because of the people around him.

“Besides working, it is fun,” he says. “It is fun to come to work and be around those people who make it enjoyable.”

Johnson says his longevity at St. John’s is partly due to the team around him. “I enjoy doing what I do and with the people around me.”

His love of cooking and food is the other reason why Johnson loves what he does. He says that he has always been interested in culinary arts since high school.

“I took classes at Edison Tech and a few classes here and there,” he says, “but it wasn’t until I started working at Highland Hospital that I met some older coworkers who taught me a lot.”

“From there, I have enjoyed [cooking] and stuck with it.”

And since then, he truly has been dedicated. Johnson says that he still finds that he can have fun with food and that the Dining Services team and St. John’s residents are open to exploring new options, which allows him to be creative.

“We always get the chance to put our own little spin on recipes.” Johnson quickly adds, “the only thing is that we try to not use too much salt, that is a worry here.”

Johnson recounts the many times he has garnered feedback from residents, saying they can recognize certain cooks’ dishes. He says, ” It is funny, they know that I make the soups — all throughout the day — and they can tell when I am not here a certain day based on the soups.”

“It is a good feeling, honestly,” he says. “It is good to know that they enjoy what I do, and they look forward to coming to eat — I want to make it special for them.”

The St. John’s employee of 20 years says that besides the residents that enjoy his food, the staff also appreciates his work. He says, “it is nice when other employees come up to me and say, ‘Charles, the chicken you made was good,’ everyone here is supportive.”

Johnson adds that one of his main support systems at St. John’s is Tony Zaccaglino, St. John’s Vice President of Senior Housing. The two worked together in the kitchen back in the day and Johnson says the rapport with Zaccaglino has remained the same all these years.  “We traveled the road together,” he says.

According to Johnson, even though his career journey has been long, it has been very rewarding. Johnsons says that after coming home from a long day at work, he feels fulfilled knowing that he has done his best.

Read more stories from dedicated St. John’s employees, here.