Signature Dining program hailed a success

Executive chef feels “full and accomplished”

Created date

May 24th, 2019
Riderwood Executive Chef Chad Wisner strives to create memorable dining experiences for residents and their guests.

Riderwood Executive Chef Chad Wisner strives to create memorable dining experiences for residents and their guests.

Riderwood residents consistently say that one of the best parts of living at the community is that they no longer have to prepare their own meals or do all of the grocery shopping, meal planning, and cleaning that goes with it. Instead, they can enjoy leisurely meals with friends at the community’s seven on-site restaurants, while Riderwood’s professional dining staff handles all of the work. 

Whether they’re craving a salad or deli wrap for a light lunch at the Potomac Café, a perfectly cooked steak and a glass of red wine at the Overlook Restaurant, or an elegant Sunday brunch with family at the Fireside Restaurant, community members can find the dining experience they’re looking for at Riderwood.

Dianne Shipler used to work at Riderwood, and when she retired, she decided to move to the Silver Spring, Md., Erickson Living community. Now that she lives there, one of her favorite parts of the day is having dinner with friends and neighbors at the on-site restaurants.

“The food here is unbelievably good,” she says. “There are so many good courses.”

One of the key people responsible for preparing the thousands of meals that are served at Riderwood each day is Executive Chef Chad Wisner, who started working in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher when he was 15 years old. He worked his way up through the ranks from prep cook to executive chef. After graduating from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, he worked for Marriott Hotels as well as in both high-end and high-volume restaurants.

“My passion drives me to excellence, which motivates me to learn and develop in order to stay current in the industry,” he says.

Wisner brought his passion for cooking to Riderwood about 12 years ago. In his role as executive chef, he leads a team of chefs, cooks, kitchen staff, and servers who all work together to serve meals to 2,500 residents and their guests each and every day.

“There is nothing more gratifying then jumping into a fast-paced kitchen and seeing it through until the last ticket leaves,” Wisner says. “Knowing that you helped your team accomplish something meaningful is very rewarding. My philosophy is to think about one plate at a time, trying to make each experience memorable for our residents and guests.”

Exceptional dining

About three years ago, Riderwood implemented the Signature Dining program, which calls for all menu items to be made to order at the moment of service. Signature Dining creates an exceptional dining experience because it ensures that food is of the highest quality and served at the peak of freshness. Wisner saw the switch from batch cooking to à la carte preparation as an opportunity for him and his team.

“The Signature Dining program really allowed me to bridge those passions of food, people, and teaching. Working alongside culinarians who did not have the à la carte experience and bringing them along in the journey from batch cooking to the new Signature Dining program has been very rewarding,” he says. “Seeing the staff build confidence in their abilities through the journey and seeing that reflected in the pride of the food being created was special.”

Riderwood’s dining services department takes a resident-focused approach. Wisner and his team think about residents’ needs and desires in everything they do. The dining services team regularly solicits feedback from residents through menu-planning meetings and comment cards — and they make changes as needed based on what residents have to say.

“We have a dedicated team that is truly committed to finding ways to improve our residents’ experience,” says Jeff Kimbell, Riderwood’s dining director. “We recently opened three new state-of-the-art venues in our Town Center neighborhood, each featuring resident-focused, restaurant-style menus. It’s an exciting time in Dining at Riderwood.”

Working at a place like Riderwood, Wisner and his team regularly serve the same customers, making for a special and unique work environment. Wisner says one of the most gratifying parts of his job is getting to know residents on a personal level.

“Building relationships, as well as learning from their life experiences, has been fantastic,” Wisner says. “The way the residents express their gratitude for what we do makes you feel so full and accomplished in life.”