Attracting top chefs to senior living

As the segment grows and clientele changes, the role of the chef is also seeing a makeover.

CHICAGO—With the evolution of food service in senior living, from cafeteria to full-service restaurant, comes a new attention to another important aspect of dining: Hiring.

As “scoop and serve” models of the past are making way for restaurant-style dining services in senior living, providers are taking note of their hiring practices—which today involve recruitment of experienced chefs who, more often than not, do not have backgrounds in senior living.

Most say that in hiring for dining, there are two major differences between preparing food for senior living versus a restaurant clientele: first, a captive audience. Second, superior schedule and quality of life.

“The only difference is that in other dining segments, guests come in and go home,” says Morrison Senior Living Senior Corporate Executive Chef John Rifkin. “But here, it is their home. You have to be more on your game because this is where the residents live.”

From a business standpoint, however, Rifkin says the concept is the same: grow and retain business through superior service.

Largely, this has been a revolution over the past several years.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources