Saving Lives with Soup: Chef John Keevers

Altenheim Chef John Keevers

A small bowl of chicken corn chowder can make a massive impact. Professional chef John Keevers didn’t expect to learn that lesson. He is a humble man who just wants people to enjoy his food. But at CarDon & Associates’ senior living community, Altenheim, a resident said his soup saved her life.

“She told me a story I’ll never forget,” John recalled. “She said when she arrived, she was having difficulty thriving. She was struggling, she wasn’t eating, she wasn’t engaging with life. But when she tasted my soup, she said it was good so she had a cup, and later that day, she had another cup. She said, ‘It just kind of turned me around. After that, I started eating again. I feel like your soup saved my life.’ And that made me feel incredible.”

Joining the CarDon team as Altenheim’s dietary manager three years ago was a full-circle moment for John, as his culinary career started at another local, family-owned business — Sahm’s Restaurant in Fishers, where he grew up. John fondly recalls being comfortably tucked away in the back of the restaurant and listening to music while prepping meals.

“It felt really good being there,” he said. “I fell in love with the place.”

John feels the same way about the warm, welcoming atmosphere of Altenheim.

“I love the main building,” he said. “It’s been here for almost over 100 years, and it has a really good feel about it when you come in. And the residents here are awesome. I love the relationship I have with them.”

John once even found himself swapping cooking stories with a resident, but the resident was in a much different cooking situation — serving the military as a chef during the Korean War.

“He showed me an old military cookbook, and just reading through some of the techniques and limited ingredients, I couldn’t imagine doing what he did,” John said. “He’d have to feed 150 men with very little, and it was amazing what he came up with to keep them full and energized. It was a whole different ball game from what I have to work with in the kitchen here, so he gave me some great perspective on what I’m lucky and grateful to have here.”

Whether carving a swan out of honeydew melon or building a bear out of bananas, cantaloupe and oranges, John has the equipment and freedom to get his creative juices flowing.

Whether he’s crafting fruit creatures, baking chicken in the kitchen or rolling a cart of soup to residents’ rooms, John feels right at home at Altenheim.