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Always room for improvement

Top-ranked dining program strives for excellence

Created date

June 28th, 2016
John and Susan Gianakos sample the steak and crab cakes at Wind Crest’s dining stations event in March. Chef Manny Colin looks on.

John and Susan Gianakos sample the steak and crab cakes at Wind Crest’s dining stations event in March. Chef Manny Colin looks on.

Hilary Henz knows a thing or two about menu planning. He and his wife Barbara owned and operated a continental restaurant specializing in Swiss cuisine, Chalet Lucerne in Winter Park, Colo., for 21 years. 

Since moving to Wind Crest, an Erickson Living community in Highlands Ranch, Hilary has lent his experience as a member of the five-member menu planning committee, a relatively new effort by dining services to enhance the dining experience for the community’s residents. 

The initiative is part of Dining Director Marcus Cordova’s commitment to excellence. Though Wind Crest already ranks first in dining services among 19 Erickson Living communities across the country, Cordova says there’s always room for improvement.

Positive changes

“All menu variety has been from resident suggestions,” Cordova said at a dining services town hall meeting. Variety comes in many forms: First Sundays, Theme Thursdays, Wednesday BBQ series, and the menu planning committees. 

Other initiatives include the opening of the High Line Marketplace in The High Line Overlook Clubhouse and new menu items at Blue Sky Bistro located in McHenry’s Crossing residence building.

Chef Manny Colin says they have been striving to make more menu items from scratch as well. “It’s fresher, and we can work around supplier issues,” he says. 

For example, he describes the cooking method for barbecue pulled pork served after the dining services town hall meeting. Instead of ordering premade carnitas, which have been inconsistent and expensive, they braised a pork butt the day before and allowed it to slowly cook. The day of the meeting, they braised it again with barbecue sauce and pulled the tender meat into thin, uneven strips. 

Residents who attended the meeting could also sample from four other food stations, including one with miniature Maryland crab cakes and seared sliced ribeye, one with refreshing peach-mango smoothies, one with fresh fruit and cheese, and for dessert, bananas Foster. 

“The food is so good,” says Barbara. “It’s always good. We’ve been here seven months and haven’t had a bad meal. For us who know food, it’s good we don’t have anything to complain about.”

Less house, more living

Aside from the food, Barbara and Hilary enjoy some luxuries they were happy to not lose when they moved: the view, the hot tub, and their patio.

“We had a lot of house to take care of with four bedrooms. Here the view is beautiful with the mountains. All the other conveniences—the walks, the pool—it’s just wonderful,” says Barbara.

Hilary likes that he doesn’t have as much cleaning to do, and he loves his patio. “That really got me,” he says. “Of course, we like the hot tub. We had one up at our old home we used all the time.”