LTC system highlights culinary focus with competition

Oct. 30—For the second year, the 40-facility, 10,000-resident Benedictine Health System (BHS) held its annual Taste of Benedictine Health System. During the event, dietary staff from the system’s facilities competed in a culinary competition.

Twenty-two different appetizers and desserts, which are frequently menued in the system’s nursing homes, were judged for quality, taste and food presentation. The winners were: St. Isidore Health Center of Greenwood Prairie in Plainview, Minn., won first prize for its spicy bacon wrapped shrimp; St. Michael’s Health & Rehabilitation Center in Virginia, Minn., won second place for its Hammies—a ham and Swiss cheese baked sandwich; and St. Anne of Winona in Minnesota won third place with its easy tiramisu.

The event started as a way to increase resident and family satisfaction scores, according to Rich Daehn, food and nutrition consultant for BHS System. “We created three focus groups: one for satisfaction, one for service and hospitality and one for dining,” Daehn said. “Those focus groups worked on ways of increasing resident satisfaction. At this year’s Taste of Benedictine, we announced we were changing the name of our foodservice department to culinary services as a way of setting a new standard and putting our name in the direction we want to go with our meals and moving away from the stereotypical long-term care foodservice.”

Daehn said the goal to raise satisfaction has worked. “Last year we raised resident satisfaction by 10%. Eighty-eight percent of our residents say that the taste of our meals is excellent. The whole new mindset and focus on hospitality and a culinary feel for all of our facilities has really helped.”

That mindset includes changing menus to incorporate more variety, changing service styles, upgrading dining room appearances, culinary training for cooking staff and specialized training for hospitality and line staff.

Daehn added that the transition to a more culinary-focused department also was achieved by partnering with manufacturers. “This spring all of the culinary directors went to General Mills and worked alongside their chefs at the world center in Minneapolis,” he said. “They worked on different ways to prepare General Mills products to raise resident satisfaction.”

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
pho bowl

Achieving authenticity can be tricky. Late last year, Oberlin College landed in the news when students protested the way dining services at the Ohio school was botching ethnic food, serving up inauthentic versions of Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. It’s a challenge other operators are confronting, too, often tapping staff and patrons for inspiration.

At 260-bed Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite, Executive Chef Bradley Czajka, himself of Polish-Ukrainian descent, started Global Stations as a way to recognize the diversity of cultures at the hospital. “We have such an...

Menu Development
sweet pea ravioli

On any given night at the Wake Robin senior living facility in Shelburne, Vt., residents may find spring sweet pea and mascarpone ravioli with white wine cream sauce or acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and cranberries on the menu. These dishes, along with a new sweet-potato burger topped with cilantro aioli, aren’t just delicious, says Director of Dining Services Kathy King. They’re also completely vegetarian.

The popularity of Meatless Mondays and the growing number of people who call themselves “flexitarians” have impacted menu development in every noncommercial sector. Although...

Managing Your Business
umass amherst food

Restaurateurs in Amherst, Mass., aren’t happy with UMass Dining .

Registered dietitian Dianne Sutherland told local NBC affiliate WWLP News in May that the high quality of food served on campus means students aren’t visiting neighborhood eateries as frequently as those businesses might like.

“Even our vendors who we work with, they get complaints from the restaurants that students are staying on campus,” she said. “They are already paying for the food; why should they [go] off campus to eat?” More than 19,000 Amherst students are on a meal plan—6,000 of whom live off campus...

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce eat dining

Forced to battle crumbling infrastructure and a constant churn of trends, sometimes the best way to save a foodservice operation is to change it entirely. As Steve Mangan, director of dining at the University of Michigan, puts it, “At some point when your building starts to fail, the cost of maintenance stands out.” But for operators with limited budgets, the challenge is discerning the right time to do so—and how far to take it.

At Jefferson High School, change came because little worked anymore. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, school’s cafeteria hadn’t been updated since 1957; students...

FSD Resources