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Menu planning takes all kinds

Created date

May 25th, 2010
If variety is the spice of life, then dining at one ofWind Crest s two on-site restaurants is the ultimate gastronomical adventure. Thanks to a collaborative effort between the residents and the dining department, hundreds of delicious, healthy food choices are always available at the at the Denver community. The menu planning committee here at Wind Crest has really proven to be a great thing, says Dining Services Director and former Executive Chef Marcus Cordova. Formed in October 2009 after Cordova conducted a series of focus groups about the food offered at the community, the menu planning committee meets weekly to discuss menu selections and dietary concerns. Made up of Wind Crest residents hand-picked by Cordova, the committee members represent a variety of dietary needs including gluten-free, sugar-free, low sodium, and vegetarian. We set out to determine how we could provide our residents with more of their favorites, says Cordova. We also wanted to serve some new and creative menu items while still meeting everyone s nutritional needs. One of the most challenging parts of our dining program is writing the menu. A menu should be alive and ongoing with fresh ideas. Serving 650 people all from different parts of the country with different tastes can be difficult, which is where the resident participation comes into play. Cordova says one of the ways they are meeting those challenges is by changing the menu to include three daily and three weekly specials, instead of serving five daily specials. This change alone added one more daily entr e choice to the menu, he says. Another benefit to this format is that it allows people to enjoy their favorite menu items more often.

Soup to nuts

Don Collins is one of seven committee members who work with Cordova to ensure a wide variety of heart healthy and sugar-free items are available for residents who, like he, are managing heart disease and diabetes. We have made numerous changes and additions to the menu, says Collins. In fact, some of the most popular menu items have been suggested by Wind Crest residents. We have also encouraged themed meals such as a taco bar, seafood bar, and stir-fry. Committee member Jim Murphy spent most of his career in the food industry. I love food and have been involved with food all my adult life, says Murphy, who retired from Thomas J. Lipton in 1997. I started working in a grocery store when I was 16 years old while going to school. I stayed in the grocery business until I was 27, when I went to work for Lawry s Foods (which was later purchased by Lipton) as a salesman. So when Marcus asked me to be a member of the committee, it was an easy decision. Murphy is also the Dining Liaison for Wind Crest s Resident Advisory Council (RAC). The RAC is a forum for communication between residents, management, and the Board of Directors and serves as a voice for the people who live at Wind Crest regarding their comfort, safety, and satisfaction, much like local community associations across the country. In just nine months since the committee formed, we have accomplished quite a bit, says Murphy. We just completed a resident survey asking for suggested menu items which we then compiled into a database; we changed our seafood vendor to obtain a better and fresher selection; we formed a Nutritional Committee to supply the nutritional data on the menu items; we also now have a Gluten Awareness Committee and a Diabetic Committee all for the purpose of making the Wind Crest dining experience second to none.