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New kitchen concept better for residents and the environment

When Food Service Director Johny Patwary joined the staff four years ago, the dining experience at Emporia Presbyterian Manor was “in a bad spot.”

“There were all these visions but no implementing changes. So, when I came here, that was my goal. People had a mentality about senior living communities cooking bland food and putting it on a plate. I told myself we need to change to a restaurant concept. It took a lot of work, but I’m glad we did it. We’re contracted with Morrison Living, and they’re the reason we’re able to do this,” said Johny.

The new concept that rolled out in September includes meals cooked from scratch, hormone-free meat and locally sourced food when available.

“We have a passion for creating memorable experiences through quality ingredients, culinary traditions and sustainable practices. Seasonality makes all the difference in our menus. We are focused on keeping things simple here where we focus on cuts of meat, method of preparation, regional food, seasonality and then how do we present it to our guests,” said Johny.

For example, the kitchen:

  1. Uses r-BGH free milk and yogurt
  2. Only serves chicken and turkey raised without the use of human antibiotics
  3. Only uses sustainable seafood
  4. Uses cage free shelled eggs
  5. Only cooks with healthy alternative for oils

It's not just the residents that benefit from this new concept. The environment does, too.

“One of our key focus areas is to minimize food waste in our dining service and try to make it as environment friendly as possible. We don’t use Styrofoam products anymore. All our disposal products are either biodegradable or compostable. We use our vegetable trimmings to make pickled vegetables and use it as alternative options of our guests,” said Johny.

Education is also part of the new concept.

“One of the programs that we implemented is called ‘Catch the Wave’ where we are educating our residents to consume infused water rather than sodas for various reasons. The importance of maintaining adequate hydration for older adults is well known. Studies demonstrate older adults do not consume enough fluid. This is due to many factors, such as physiological, medical, environmental and situational.”

The residents get hands-on experience with this concept, too.

“We also do a demo cooking with our residents called ‘Teaching Kitchen’ where we invite residents to participate in hands-on cooking with the chef and the dietitian. It is just a platform for our guests to explore food, culinary and nutrition literacy that will positively impact food choices and experiences,” said Johny.

PHOTO: Residents get hands on experience with a new demo cooking program called “Teaching Kitchen.”

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