Why did you decide to become a CDM?
I have always enjoyed cooking for family and friends. I enjoyed learning about the dynamics of food. When I found out that there was an avenue to enhance my career, and culinary skills by adding nutrition, I was eager to learn more. I had great people around me, so I really give credit to pursuing my certification as a CDM to my mentors Becky and Cheryl.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
I lead and manage all kitchen and dietary operations, which includes budgeting, training, staff recruiting, nutrition screenings, sanitation, scheduling, MDS, food ordering, management of personnel, and care plan management.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
I work at least 10 hours daily, get in early and prioritize my day. I use a daily task list to make sure I have written down all the things I need to get accomplished. I prioritize my task and get to work. I mark off task once completed and track those which aren’t. I also use this task list to identify task that need to be added to my list for the next day and the process starts over again each day. I meet with my supervisor to make sure I have met or exceeded his expectations.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
I instituted resident’s daily menu updates/choices. My residents select what they want to eat daily before we start to prepare any food. Our cooks go around and visits with the residents to ensure their menu choices are captured. Residents also know that they can come to the dining room to tell us what they want for their meal. If a resident chooses something not allowed on their diet, I or nursing goes to see them to educate them on other options. This change has resulted in great customer service ratings. We haven’t received any complaints, in state regulations compliance and deficiency free.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
I worked at McDonalds in Connecticut.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
Becky Winowich and Cheryl Wiltse are my two biggest mentors. These ladies saw something in me and guided me from the beginning. Becky precepted me through my CDM course and taught me everything about diets and the kitchen and cleanliness. She made sure before I became a manager that I knew everything about the kitchen to include sanitation. Cheryl taught me about budgeting, food ordering, staffing, scheduling, equipment, and cleaning. I owe my kitchen management skills and being a CDM to these two awesome ladies. The provided my foundation and really set me up to succeed.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
My biggest challenges are budgeting and staffing. Since I let the resident decide on the food and change the menus it can be to be a little hard to stay within my budget perimeters. As far as staffing, I have found that hiring part-time employees have helped with staffing challenges. A key part to using part-time employees has been to develop a quick rotation plan to get them trained and up to speed as soon as possible. This adds flexibility to their capabilities and sustainability to my team.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Interacting with my staff, my residents and the many relationships I have with the other department leaders. I feel very fortunate to have my job, it’s location and my boss. He’s very supportive which allows me to take care of my staff and they in turn take care of our residents.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
ANFP is my first resource and I educate myself by attending meetings, going to seminars, and I also read a lot on leadership, management, foodservice, nutrition and trends in those areas. I also communicate and network with my peers/colleagues.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?
I envision the foodservice industry to be very challenging with baby boomers, recruiting staff, foodborne illnesses, and the steady increase in food cost.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
My advice is to make sure your heart is in it. Make sure you are ready to work hard, have an open mind, strengthen your organizing skills, learn as much as you can from those already in the field. Make sure you are honest and have the experience needed to do the job you are pursuing. Remember, you need good workers, so you must be a good leader. Be understanding, patience and listen more than you talk.