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Senior Living Chefs Share Perspectives on Mealtime
Laura Gustafson

By: Laura Gustafson on August 13th, 2019

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Senior Living Chefs Share Perspectives on Mealtime

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Senior living communities thrive on providing residents with positive culinary experiences. Every detail down to the silverware and plating is taken into consideration when creating each dish. The residents in these communities receive three chef-prepared meals in comfortable dining rooms. On average, Wesley Village serves 12,000 meals a year to our resident and patient population.

With so many meals served, kitchen staff and Chefs work together to manage it all. “Our chefs on campus are wonderful at forecasting what our residents like. So, in menu planning, if we decide to have chicken marsala or swordfish- they know approximately how many people would like chicken and how many would want swordfish,” said Dawn Supranovich, Manager of Dining Services. In knowing the residents personal preferences, staff has a great handle on food supply and demand.


Fresh food and supplies arrive throughout the week to maintain the quality of goods. These deliveries include seasonal fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy items, and pre-packaged goods. “I get three deliveries a week to ensure freshness. When we have food forums or I see residents in the hallway, they’ll ask for certain dishes and I’ll add them to the menu,” said Chef Hector Velez, of Crosby Commons.


Campus Chefs make sure residents are able to voice their thoughts on the food selection and what kinds of recipes bring them joy. “There are so many different nationalities, traditions, staples... it is our mission to creatively find a way to satisfy each and every one of them,” said Richard Scaife, Chef at Wesley Heights. “We host a monthly dining forum for the residents to voice their opinions.”

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Creating a thoughtful menu is a huge part of what makes mealtime so successful. It keeps the kitchen ordering process organized and enforces the importance of relationship building between staff and residents. “We like to use the term “Mise en place,” a French culinary term that means everything in its place. We have developed countless systems to make sure that we operate smoothly,” said Chef Scaife.


“We start our day at 6:00a.m. and set up our breakfast station. Having everything in its place ensures that we are able to cook up dozens of eggs and pancakes short order,” said Scaife. “After breakfast, we clean and cut our vegetables, season our meats and make all the soup from scratch. We spend the whole day prepping,” he said.


With operations running smoothly in the kitchen, the experience for residents is unique and refined. “Not only does the plate have to look delicious and make us hungry, but the areas we dine in have to be aesthetically pleasing too. We try our best with the restaurant style approach and want you to come into a dining room and be welcomed by staff that is honored and happy to serve you,” said Supranovich.


A huge benefit of choosing an assisted living community, is the assurance of knowing your loved one will be well fed and cared for. Often times, families share stories with care counselors depicting the downfall of their family member’s dietary habits and how it drastically impacts their health. As loved ones age in their homes alone, it’s difficult to know whether or not they are successfully managing their daily nutrition.


Receiving nutritious meals each day at a senior living community contributes to the mental and physical well-being of the residents who reside there. Our chefs and on-site dietitian work with residents’ families to make conscious decisions on food choice and what is best for each resident. For instance, we have residents who are diabetic and struggle in managing their sugar levels. We meet with the families and have a meaningful care conversation to ensure their needs are met during mealtime. From there, the Chef and kitchen staff are notified of any major diet restrictions and changes to a residents’ health and make sure they are given the opportunity to make healthier food choices.


Keeping several staple items on each community menu provides residents an opportunity to make dignified choices. “Entrees and sides that are served everyday are filet mignon, shrimp, chicken, cod, burgers, carrots, mashed potatoes and baked potatoes,” said Velez.


Our kitchen staff exemplify our mission and values each day in caring for our residents and serve with creativity, passion and pride. Their hard work is visible in each plate served. “I always compare my inspiration as a Chef to the look you get as a small child walking into a bakery. The clear glass containers are filled with decedent treats that are so colorful, you just want to press your face up to the glass. I want every plate that leaves the kitchen to bring that feeling of joy to someone,” said Scaife.


Want to learn more about life in an assisted living community? Schedule a community visit now.

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About Laura Gustafson

My interest in serving a non-profit was heightened when I joined the UMH family over a year ago. I started in a Sales role, but recently transitioned to my position as a Marketing and Development contributor. My former role taught me a valuable lesson which is this: each person has a story to share and their story is unique to them. If we grant each individual the opportunity to tell their truth, we can help them make the best decision towards senior living options. I love working with our residents and their families to learn about them, what their needs are and what they value. In my spare time, I enjoy yoga, running outdoors and making memories with my family.

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