Why Compass Group for Executive Chef Dennis Rivera? Because Anything is Possible at Compass Group

June 28, 2023

Why Compass Group?: “There are so many opportunities and resources at Compass Group that anything is possible.”


For Dennis Rivera, the love of food started with a pole, nylon line and hook in Brooklyn, N.Y. His grandfather, a professional fisherman, would take Dennis with him to work. While his grandfather was hauling in nets, Dennis would cast a line into the ocean as well—as long as his grandfather helped him take the fish off the hook.

As a result, he ate a lot of fish growing up. Even with that, cooking was not on his radar early, but as he reflects on his career, he realizes it was this early exposure to cooking that led him on his path to the kitchen.

At 17 years old, Dennis got his first job working as a dishwasher and server at a retirement community near his home in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. He had no experience and no particular career aspirations in foodservice, but as he got familiar with the industry, he saw a path open in front of him. After just three years in foodservice, Dennis was promoted to head chef at the facility, continuing to work his way up and learn varying aspects of the business.

Over the next decade, he broadened his experience by working in other sectors of foodservice from sports to academia, but ultimately felt called back to senior living.

“I love building relationships with residents,” said Dennis Rivera. “They have remarkable stories and lives. I have an opportunity to learn from them and interact with them. It truly brings meaning to the work I do.”

Dennis incorporates these relationships and conversations into the food he cooks at Fellowship Community in Whitehall, Penn. He gets to know the residents and what food they liked growing up and throughout their lives. Then, he crafts menus that cater to their history and upbringing. For Dennis, it is an opportunity to serve and make a significant impact on the resident experience.

While the 17-year-old Dennis would not have envisioned a career in senior living foodservice, he could not be happier with his journey. At Compass Group, he found a home that provides him with the training and resources he needs to grow his skills and build a long-term career.

“The culture at Compass is awesome. Some employers only do lip service to career growth and work-life balance, but at Compass your voice is heard. The company is large enough to provide any kind of opportunity you’d want, but the culture makes you feel included and cared for.”

For Dennis, his answer to “Why Compass Group?” comes down to the opportunities he has earned and the growth potential in front of him. His ultimate goal is to become a regional executive chef. On that journey, he’d also like to spend some time working in the Middle East. At Compass, both of those goals are attainable, making a bright future for Dennis at Compass Group.