Soup to Nuts: Planning Strategies to Make Your Culinary Program Future Ready!

June 1, 2022 | 3:45 – 5:00 pm Concurrent Block D

D-4  Soup to Nuts: Planning Strategies to Make Your Culinary Program Future Ready!

CE Credits: NAB

As Life Plan Communities emerge from the pandemic, many are asking: how can I create a future-ready, experiential culinary program that is staff-feasible and financially resilient? To help answer this question, a New Jersey dining director teams with a food service designer and architect to present strategies for implementing the transition from traditional to dynamic dining programs. What ARE the next generation of seniors looking for in culinary experiences? The transition away from formal dining to vibrant, casual venues was happening before the pandemic – now that trend is stronger than ever and flowing to the outdoors. Intentional design extends the use of outdoor venues into warm and cool seasons. Presenters will dive into this and other new culinary concepts like micro-branding, intergenerational dining, ghost kitchens, grab-and-go, and more. Gone by the wayside is the vast sea of table and chairs that comprised the formal ‘dining-room’ in its place: micro-social ‘rooms within rooms’ which provide intimate and safe dining experiences. In addition, interactive dining with open kitchens and demonstration cooking are filling the formal void, creating opportunity for residents to connect with food preparation and the people behind it. COVID-19 necessitated continuous pick-up and delivery service – now that residents have returned to in-person dining, food service teams can assess how to utilize those options in brand-forward ways to balance staffing needs with culinary offerings. Speakers will present real-world examples of how these experiences can be integrated into a dining program for flexibility and efficiency .As communities struggle with staffing, many have reduced dining hours and pulled from other departments to aid in meal service. Speakers will present new equipment and technology that can help communities address the staffing issue; they will explore the path of food from delivery to end user and show how FTEs can be reduced by careful design, equipment placement, and technology. Understanding future consumers and creating a responsive culinary program is key to the vitality of Life Plan Communities – But change can be difficult, especially when today’s residents are satisfied with current offerings. Through the lens of a New Jersey provider undergoing a dining reinvention, participants will learn highly practical steps that are key in implementing a successful, future-ready culinary program.


Godfrey Dan

Bio: As a partner at RLPS Architects, Dan has teamed with clients and food service designers to oversee complex culinary reinvention projects. Dan has managed numerous seniors’ housing projects with responsibility for coordinating multi-disciplinary teams and guiding projects though the planning and design phases into construction and occupancy. Dan is particularly skilled at working with state officials to navigate the licensing process that is unique to each state, with the ultimate goal of providing the best possible environment for the end user.

Jennifer Zduncyzk

Jen is a hospitality professional with over 35 years of service in Senior Living. In 2007, Jen joined the Leadership Team of Medford Leas as the Division Director for Dining Services and has also served as the community’s Corporate Compliance Official for the past 10 years. Medford Leas, a nationally-accredited CCRC in South Jersey, is currently engaged in a large-scale dining reinvention project.

Jessica Jack