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Meet the new director of dining services

Any chef will tell you, presentation is just as important as the recipe when it comes to creating a great dining experience. Johny Patwary is no exception.

Johny was recently promoted to director of dining services at Emporia Presbyterian Manor after a year and a half as our executive chef. In his new role, he wants to whip up more special events that get the attention of the whole community.

"I told the chef, when we do something special I want to make a big deal of it," Johny said.

So much of life at Presbyterian Manor revolves around food, and today more than ever, the emphasis is on restaurant-quality dining. It's one of the best ways to promote our lifestyle to the community at large and future residents, Johny said.

Johny came to us after several years in food service at Emporia State University and Friends University in Wichita. Serving students is much different than serving seniors, he said – some older adults have dietary needs that must be considered, and residents spend many more years at Presbyterian Manor than most students spend on campus. So he gets to develop relationships and learn more about residents' preferences.

As director, Johny wants to continue focusing on the quality of the food more than a high quantity of options. It's easy to cook processed and frozen food for large groups, but he and his new chef want to bring in fresh food as much as possible. Even when residents want simple comfort foods, the dining staff wants them to have good quality, healthful ingredients.

"They are looking for simple food, like chicken and dumplings, or pot pie, but done well," he said. "They're looking for hot food that's cooked well and tastes good."

Johny will now work closely with interim chef Brian Evans to develop menus, but he won't be as hands-on in the kitchen. He'll miss that a little, but it opens up the opportunity for him to mentor new kitchen staff as they come up.

"I'm happy because I'm in a position where I have my own philosophy and management style, and I can train my employees with that," Johny said. "I've been a chef since 2006, so it's a new setup -- now I get to train chefs down the road."

But, he added: "I think I'll still put my touch here and there once in a while."

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