Cheryl Shimmin: Thinking ahead

Cheryl Shimmin stays on trend at Kettering Health Network.


Cheryl Shimmin has transformed the Kettering Health Network by:

  • Hiring culinarians to create an upscale, on-trend menu
  • Developing the Boulevard Bakery, a retail outlet that features the system’s housemade baked goods
  • Focusing on healthy dining options without limiting choices
  • Implementing room service at all eight acute-care hospitals
  • Opening two new kitchens and cafeterias within the span of four months

"Forward-thinking" is how people describe Cheryl Shimmin, network director of nutrition services for Kettering Health Network in Dayton, Ohio. That mindset is an asset in this growing system, which by the end of May will include eight acute-care hospitals, two nursing homes and a retirement center.

“Cheryl anticipates as changes need to be made,” says Susan Wilson, director of nutrition services at Grandview and Southview Medical Centers, hospitals within Kettering Health Network. “Our menus for patients and the cafés are more upscale than you find in many places. We do a lot of action stations and display cooking. Our chefs are very visible.”

Culinary talent: Wilson says one of the areas Shimmin’s forward thinking has benefited the system the most is the hiring of culinarians. “We’ve made a commitment to adding culinary expertise,” Shimmin says. “We’ve had an executive chef for 15 years.” In addition to a network executive chef, the individual hospitals have executive chefs or sous chefs. The retirement village has an executive sous chef. The system also has a pastry chef, Michael Leibold. Shimmin says she eventually wants to have an executive chef at each of the system’s eight acute-care hospitals.

All that kitchen talent has helped the system distinguish itself as a culinary powerhouse in the community. The system’s chefs have participated
in the Taste of Kettering, a culinary competition that features dishes made by dozens of the city’s restaurants and dining facilities. Kettering Health

Network has placed third twice and second once. “When [people attending the event] find out where we are located, it’s always fun to tell them we’re located in a hospital and run by a hospital foodservice department,” Shimmin says.

Shimmin says plate presentation and staying on trend are two areas where the culinarians have really helped the system to distinguish its foodservice department.

For example, the executive chef at the Sycamore Glen Retirement Center changed the service from a traditional setting to restaurant style. In addition to the service change, the menu has been changed to appeal to current as well as future residents. Items like an Asian salmon or offering chicken in different presentations are joining traditional favorites like meatloaf. The retirement center is surrounded by 112 independent living garden homes.

“The goal of the retirement center is when these individuals need to move into a facility with a higher level of care, they will select to move into our center,” Shimmin says. “Our goal is to show them from a culinary standpoint what they can get from us.”

Shimmin says catering from the retirement center to the garden homes has increased nearly tenfold since the menu switch.

Another population the system’s chefs have helped to reach is the students at Kettering College, which is located on the system’s campus. “We’re targeting not just our employee base but also the 18- to 30-year old generation,” Shimmin says. Shimmin hopes to start a smoothie/sandwich concept at the college, but for now the college students eat at the Kettering Medical Center, primarily at the Atrium Grille and Deli, a Panera Bread-type concept. The Atrium Grille has targeted the college students by running happy hour promotions during the operation’s slow times. There is also a delivery service for the college run from the Atrium Grille.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
rooster illustration

Sustainability is such a priority for Santa Rosa Junior College’s culinary arts program that produce often doesn’t even hit the cooler before becoming a meal. Students quickly transform the bounty of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and more, harvested from the college’s own farm, into restaurant-quality dishes at the Culinary Cafe and Bakery. They learn the basics of agriculture, practice pivoting a menu based on seasonality, and compost as they cook.

It’s little wonder the program recently placed first in the CAFE/Kendall College Green Awards: This Northern California community...

Managing Your Business
alumni worker

It’s a sure sign that a school is doing something right when its students want to come back and work as adults. From the standpoint of the foodservice director, though, there is plenty to gain from retaining homegrown talent—call it the ultimate return on investment. In the wake of back-to-school season, two dining programs with a robust alumni contingent share their thoughts on hiring former customers.

Local expertise

At Georgia Southern University, about one-third of Eagle Dining Services’ 107 full-time employees are alumni. “They way we do things on our campus may be very...

Managing Your Business
business ladder climbing illustration

Recruiting talent is only half the battle for Mike Folino, associate director of nutrition services at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. Once he’s attracted good employees, providing clear opportunities for advancement can help retain them—but knowing when to bring up the topic in conversation can be tricky.

Prior to hiring

Folino likes to touch on advancement during the initial interview process, but the extent to which he does so changes case by case. “I have had interviews where we knew right away that we needed to discuss our structure and...

Ideas and Innovation
woman surprise

When I joined the staff at FoodService Director in the spring of 2015, I couldn’t believe how much there was to learn about the intricacies of the industry. My past experience, from kindergarten to my college days to on-the-job meals, would lead me to believe that noncommercial dining was a kind of automated process—an amenity that’s expected, and one you only become aware of if something goes wrong.

But as with my own household chores, there are no magical elves making sure the business of feeding students, seniors and hospital patients is done, and done well. Foodservice...

FSD Resources