Confessions of Virginia Ohanian

Virginia Ohanian admires her mother, drinks “a ton” of skim milk and wishes she could be a barefoot water skier.
Virginia Ohanian, director of culinary and nutrition services at St. Andrews Estates, in Boca Raton, Fla., admires her mother, drinks “a ton” of skim milk and wishes she could be a barefoot water skier.

Q. What is the best part of your job?

I feel as though I am making a positive difference in the lives of seniors whom I serve. In turn, they enrich my life, and I get paid for it.

Q. What is the worst part of your job?

Losing residents, who I consider to be part of my family, when they pass away. 

Q. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

I have cultivated a cohesive, talented, motivated culinary team that continues to amaze and exceeds the expectations of our resident population and their guests almost daily. 

Q. What is the most unusual foodservice/catering request you have ever received?

Doing an entire wedding reception for two of our widowed seniors who met, fell in love and married in our CCRC.

Q. Which talent would you most like to have?

To be a barefoot water skier.

Q. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would be less of a perfectionist. I must learn to accept the things that I cannot change and move on. I must remind myself that my best is good enough. 

Q. What is your greatest fear?

Complacency, to lose the passion to achieve greatness in my life.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?

I most admire my mother for her unconditional love, kindheartedness, spirituality, warmth and fortitude. She is my hero!

Q. What will people always find in your refrigerator?

People will always find skim milk in my refrigerator. I drink a ton of it. No calcium deficiency here!

Q. What food fad do you wish had never started?

Frozen yogurt. Cleaning the equipment every day was a hassle.

Q. What are your words to live by?

“Live simply. Be grateful.”

Q. What activity is at the top of your bucket list?

To travel more and experience the world. My next vacation destination is Italy.

Q. If you had a time machine what historical event or era would you visit?

I would go back to the Renaissance and wear pretty, long gowns and be an influential leader in society who makes a positive difference in the lives of others.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
food snap

We started a 50-member vegan team in response to students expressing the need for more vegan options. Between our monthly meetings, students are asked to take photos of foods they eat in and out of the dining halls to give us a true picture of the kinds of things they like and the kinds of foods that cause disappointment. This exercise has sparked a lot of conversation and given us more insight into what we could do better.

Ideas and Innovation
hybrid worker

Some of our employees can work four 10-hour days. It’s really helped with balance. We’ve also created a lot of hybrid positions, such as a personal services assistant and foodservice worker role. It allows workers to pick up more shifts and cover both positions.

Ideas and Innovation
cheeseburger

We set up an interactive collaboration with our dietetics department where students worked with our culinary team to test how recipes are imagined and produced. One of the recipes they came up with was a barbecue tempeh sandwich, which they believed was a great option for vegan students across campus. We added the sandwich to our On the Go program and then expanded it to our vegan station on campus due to its success.

Ideas and Innovation
salad bowl

We have reorganized our salad bars to not only include the traditional DIY salad ingredients, but also several daily entree salads. Our students requested 32-ounce heavy glass salad bowls that have been wildly popular. The big bowls allow students to load up on their favorite salads and customize with additional ingredients from around the servery. We have seen a significant surge in usage that cuts across all groups, including athletes.

FSD Resources