Why did you decide to become a CDM?
I became a CDM to successfully serve a different demographic that intrigued my passion in foodservice. Before I became a CDM, I was a General Manager of a dining hall at Indiana University that served 10,000 students daily. Back then, my wife to be, just achieved her Health Facility Administration license and became an administrator in long-term care. When listening about her work days, I developed a desire to learn more about long-term care and how I could apply 11 years of foodservice experience to better serve the residents.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
To effectively lead the Support Services Department in providing the upmost, respected care for the Daughters of Charity within dietary, environmental, laundry, sewing, shipping & receiving, and special events. The Daughters of Charity are a community of Catholic women who devote their lives to serving the poorest and most abandoned individuals in today’s society. When they can no longer continue their mission in the real world, they are then missioned to one of their continuum care campuses.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
First, I sync my e-mail calendar with my phone calendar in order get organized. I then take a look every Sunday night to plan my week. Next, I always plan the next day before leaving work that day. I break my calendar down daily in a checklist type manifesto by list of priorities. I’ll even go as far as putting certain e-mails on my calendar as “to do” events. Since this is long-term care, it hardly ever works out the way you plan it, but I find this process makes adaptability more efficient.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
At a previous facility, I worked with Activities to have an activity that was led by Dietary. This activity would entail a nutritional education lesson along with recipe testing. I would break down the nutritional aspect of the food for each diet per attendee and then evaluate their feedback on whether or not to add this item to the menus. The leader of this activity was on a rotation involving the cooks and aides too. The cooks and aides really enjoyed it because one, they got to introduce something they wanted to bring to the menu, and two, they got to interact with the residents in non-traditional way.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
I was 15 years old when I took on a dishwashing position with Weinbach Cafeteria. My job was to wash dishes and help the janitor complete his duties that included the normal kitchen cleanup and washing of pots and pans in a three-tier sink. Although I was only a dishwasher, I was observing the components of a restaurant that sparked my interest in foodservice.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
I have had two great mentors that helped shape my career. I feel that I’ve had two different stages in my career, one being college foodservice, two being a CDM in long-term care. The first is Brian Barker, who at Indiana University, mentored me to see all the different angles it takes to manage a dining hall. He taught me to see the facility not through a manager’s eye, but to place myself in the shoes of the vendors, maintenance, customers, and inspector’s points of views. He influenced me to surround myself with people that were strong where I was weak. The second would be Nancy Schmidt, dietician with TLC Management. She hired me as a dietary manager and mentored me to become certified. I was experienced in foodservice but knew very little about the clinical aspect. I feel very fortunate to learn the clinical side of a CDM from such an experienced dietitian. She took a chance on me to complete the job and I will always be grateful for molding me throughout the certification process.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
I would say the biggest challenge I face is inter-department collaboration. In the end, whether it's Nursing or Support Services, each department does a terrific job of serving and caring for the sisters, but there are those times that this can lead to conflict between departments. I handle them with positive communication between departmental leaders and then pass them down to floor staff with "what if" scenarios. Once everyone sees each other’s point of view, then we move on to trial and error and adjust accordingly.
What is your favorite part of your job?
It is most definitely, the food! I absolutely love it when the Sisters compliment the staff on how good their meals are and converse with them about upcoming meals. Our Activity Director does an outstanding job planning themed meals, twice a month, based on a movie she features for the Sisters. I also enjoy the satisfaction the staff exuberates when receiving compliments and when cooking their favorite meals.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
I stay up to date with current innovations and trends by being involved with the Indiana Chapter of ANFP. Our chapter has done an outstanding job when planning the district and state meetings by bringing in innovative speakers and providing entertaining networking events. I also look forward to ANFP’s digital issues of Nutrition & Foodservice Edge magazine too!
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?
While working on obtaining the CDM, CFPP credential, I had the pleasure of transitioning from the tray line style to restaurant style. I got to experience the era of no choices to the era of plentiful choices and although some presentation cooking is taking place, I envision that much more presentation cooking will occur. It will not only be the cooking of food itself, but more presentation of why this food is on the menu and where it comes from. I would say more of a showcase type of presentation, especially if it came from a facility’s own garden or local community garden.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
I would immediately seek out a mentor at your place of employment and join ANFP or a similar organization to network with individuals that share common interest. No matter how much you think you know, you always want to live your life to improve, and having a mentor or belonging to ANFP will efficiently help with this.