Chef Doug Smith, Director of Culinary Services for CHI Living Communities, has a favorite story about a resident from The Commons of Providence (Sandusky, OH). The resident and her friends met monthly for lunch and bible study at each other’s home or a restaurant. This resident usually hosted at a restaurant, but one time when she was homebound, she asked her friends to join her at The Commons. Which, they did. When it came time for her to host again, her friends inquired if they could come again to The Commons to eat. They loved the food that much.
Smiling faces, clean plates, moments that touch Chef Doug’s and every chef’s heart.
What does a Director of Culinary Services do?
Everything. From cooking demonstrations to selecting china. From discussing with residents their food likes to sharing serving techniques with kitchen staffs. From tasting 20 different coffees to insure you have the right one for a community to tracking senior food trends. To helping campus culinary teams prepare for cooking competitions. Those are just a few of the wide variety of tasks Chef Doug Smith does in his new role as Director of Culinary Services for CHI Living Communities.
More than 30 Years of Impressive Credentials
A chef for more than 30 years, Chef Doug brings impressive credentials. He was an executive chef at Pier W. Restaurant, executive with the Bucci’s Restaurant Group, and even the owner of his own catering company The Chef and Mrs. Cook.
He honed his skills and knowledge of senior dining by enticing and satisfying the residents of The Commons of Providence for more than ten years with his culinary delights.
It’s all about Gathering Together
“I thought my grandmother was a great cook, but it was more than that. Her food tasted great because it was the family being together sharing stories and conversations over the dinner table. That is what makes food taste even better – the company,” he explains.
“It’s why we always encourage everyone to come down and eat in the dining room rather than in their rooms. It’s that love of families and friends getting together around dinner,” he added.
We strive to create a community-style environment for residents with dining rooms geared as gathering areas to promote camaraderie with a fine dining flair. Several CHI Living Community campuses are undergoing dining room renovations or were recently completed including St. Leonard (Centerville, OH), The Gardens at St. Elizabeth (Denver, CO), and Linus Oakes Village (Roseburg, OR) to enhance the overall experience and encourage everyone to gather together to enjoy good company and good food.
What Today’s Seniors Want
Senior dining is changing according to Chef Doug. “Seniors want more à la carte choices. They are used to eating what they like, not a limited menu,” he explained.
Even though all our campuses offer à la carte menus, Chef Doug is exploring expanding food options at meals and a schedule to change the à la carte menus regularly.
Another trend he sees is a heightened concern over carbs and sugar. All of our campuses are very conscious of our residents’ dietary needs, but he and his culinary teams are continually refining nutrition options for residents. “Campuses are asking for even healthier options that still taste great and have flavor, something the culinary teams are striving for as well,” he added.
One of his first actions in his new role was visiting the campuses and meeting their chefs and culinary leaders as well as residents. He sees his role as being a catalyst to share ideas with others. “I see our successes first hand and want to help other campuses implement the best of them.”
Another action he took was a multi-campus dining survey. “As an organization, we care about what people are saying and value it. The survey will point out areas we can improve,” he said.
It’s all about Service and Home
Service is an important part of the dining experience. “We cook everything to order just like a restaurant. We don’t employ steam tables and have it waiting.” According to Chef Doug, it takes a little longer but provides more options and generates a better dining experience.
It’s all about creating the perfect dining experience for residents with plenty of dining choices, restaurant ambiance, great service, and the camaraderie of family and friends to make each meal feel that home is here.