Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

AUG 2019

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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44 FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES AUGUST 2019 care retirement communities across the United States, Mark Southern serves as assistant vice president of food and beverage. Prior to switching to senior living in late 2017, he directed product innovation and brand programs for Hilton Worldwide and earlier spent 15 years creating and growing a regional gourmet pizza and pub chain. Vi's food and beverage programs have long relied on trained culinarians and gourmet, scratch kitchens, Southern says, and most of its chefs came from upscale restaurants, country clubs and hotels. He adds that the need for skilled staff will only escalate as discerning Baby Boomers begin making their way into the resident population. "We have pastry chefs on staff in every community. We make our own sauces and stocks and fabricate a lot of our own proteins," Southern says. "Our mode of food and beverage is cut not from a healthcare cloth; it's cut from a hospitality cloth. That's only intensifying as our segment continues to evolve." Internally, Southern says, Vi is devoting greater energy and resources to training. To that end, the company partners with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to help develop its sous chefs and other kitchen team mem- bers. Vi's culinary leaders attend train- ing courses at the CIA, and managers tap into video and online training materials to help develop core and incremental skills necessary for posi- tions requiring greater specialization. Its dining directors partner with local culinary and hospitality schools as well to educate students about career opportunities in senior living. "We often joke that senior living probably isn't the 'rst place that newly minted culinary or hospitality school graduates set their sights on," Southern says. "But the reality is that the culinary roles with the right company are now every bit as challenging and every bit as rewarding — and maybe even more so. Our customer base is very knowledge- able and appreciative, and the quality of life for our culinary team members is much better than in many other industry segments. We 'nd we're able to attract very high-caliber candidates to a lot of our communities once they learn what we're all about." Culinary training also played a big role in River Landing's transition to multivenue restaurant-style dining. The operation was able to accomplish most of what it needed to do with existing staff, Burdette says, simply retraining as needed. "We had a number of employ- ees who had been here for 12 years but who'd never worked saute before," he says. "They had always just made salads. But we showed them how to saute, how and why to clarify butter, how to cook to order. It was a big change, but they learned to be professional cooks, and they take a lot of pride in what they do." No.5 ecil icen Ader acknowledges that much of the industry is in learning mode, with a strong focus on training and educa- tion in order to be able to operate as restaurants, not institutional dining rooms. And as that transition contin- ues, the focus on kitchen design and ef'ciency is increasing. In the case of newer, multivenue independent living and many assisted living operations, a typical design will have a central production kitchen for the majority of prep work, with cook- ing to order and/or 'nishing done on an exhibition cooking line, at action stations and in showpiece equipment such as hearth-style pizza ovens. The change is signi'cant and requires both a different mindset and more specialized equipment and design. "With labor so tight and the num- ber of venues increasing, there's a huge need for more innovation and technol- ogy in the back of the house," Ader notes. "The cooking suite has to be versatile and ef'cient for one or two people on the line to be able to serve a variety of venues." With all of the changes taking place in the segment, he says the time has come for senior living facilities to rely more heavily on foodservice consultants and trained chefs when making kitchen design and equipment decisions. "There are a lot of kitchen mess-ups, and a lot of money is wasted because kitchens aren't designed to do what they now need to do," he says. Watermark's Bobbitt agrees, noting that on new developments much of the kitchen work is still handled by the pri- mary architect on the project as opposed to kitchen design specialists. "There's a mentality that, 'Oh, this is healthcare,' so they put their healthcare hats on and design a high-volume production kitchen. That's when we have to turn around and say, 'No, we need to make this a restaurant kitchen. We're cook- ing fresh foods to order. We need more burners and refrigeration on the line. We need less institutional equipment and more a la carte equipment, such as charbroilers and salamanders. We need a smoker for meats and slow-roasting veg- etables.' Our operations and our menus are now much more diverse; we need a much more diverse set of equipment than in the past." FE&S "Our mode of food and beverage is cut not from a healthcare cloth; it's cut from a hospitality cloth. That's only inten- sifying as our segment continues to evolve." — Mark Southern, Vi 5 TRENDS IN eni ivin FOODSERVICE

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