Why did you decide to become a CDM?
Healthcare is constantly changing and the continuing education and programs offered by ANFP are top notch.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
Besides the overall management of the department, I work with 25 team members to ensure our patients, guests, physicians, and fellow employees receive tasty made from scratch meals.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
I like to write out what needs to get accomplished that day. I also use an old fashioned calendar on my desk and write notes on that as well as my computer.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
We do a “spoken” menu here at the facility where our diet aides and hostess visit the patient’s rooms to go over the meal selections. We feel it’s a little more personal and gives us some additional time with the patients. We use a laptop device and all of the patient information comes up so we can offer the correct items for their physician prescribed diet order. We offer two main entrees at each meal period and also a list of 15 alternate items.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
My first summer job in the industry was a at a “fast food counter type” hot dog and burger place right next to a factory. We fed over 500 people during their lunch break. I learned how to be fast and have a good memory because all orders were called out by the counter workers. My first job after graduating my culinary program was as a rounds cook at a seven story 300 room hotel. I eventually was promoted to executive chef.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
My first mentor was my Culinary of Arts instructor Frank Gronda when I was a teenager. He showed me how important it was to help others in our field and if you weren’t leading a team how to support the leader. When I went out into the industry I had a very experienced F&B Director, Simon McStravick. He promoted me to executive chef and worked with me quite a bit as he himself was an executive chef. My main mentor here at my hospital was the CEO Joyce Brancato (now retired). She showed me the ins and outs of a hospital.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
Handling patient expectations for their meals is a big challenge. So many are on special diets and different medicines for the first time, it affects not only their taste buds, but what they can have while they are here.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Working with my team on a daily basis and rounding on our guests.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
I like to look at different ideas on the internet. I also represent our 100 hospitals on the Food and Nutrition advisory board for our purchasing group. It’s a great way to hear about new ideas and give feedback on the different products.
How do you envision the foodservice industry changing in the next few years?
With the COVID-19 pandemic it is very difficult to say. It could continue to affect food production in all areas from produce/farmers to meatpackers so we may have to be even more pliable with menus. The foodservice industry on the restaurant side may have to become even more flexible because of the social distancing expectations and how many patrons can even come into the restaurants.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
Always maintain an open mind when presented with a new idea or looking at anything new and seek out your team’s input. And never take a complaint personally. Look at it objectively and see how you can improve the situation.