Like many senior living organizations that are rethinking dining operations, Kisco Senior Living is adapting its dining model toward a restaurant-style approach. But that’s not all it’s doing.
With the help of its new culinary services leader, Matt Perez, who brings a wealth of experience in restaurants from Hawaii to California and beyond, the company is taking a comprehensive look at dining as it fits into health care and wellness overall; starting at the community level.
And Perez’s eye toward sustainable dining fits with Kisco’s overall mission to make dining an important part of a holistic experience and approach to wellness for its residents.
The dining concept relates to living well, says Brian Grandbouche, team leader for dining services, in flavor as well as culture and regional influences. Giving back is another pillar for Kisco, which promotes green causes and community interaction.
“Globally, we need to be very mindful of how we impact our environment,” Perez says. “That may mean taking a look at the use of styrofoam cups in our communities, supporting local businesses supplying product such as fishmongers, and beef and poultry farmers.”
Toward a more local focus, the company this spring re-examined its food product purchasing processes and established a new partner that has been able to free dining service managers to buy more locally. Rather than its past approach in using a national purveyor, Kisco is now buying more at the local farm level versus nationally.
It is also eliminating waste by contracting with a new product made by Orbio Technologies that turns tap water into a cleaning agent. By refilling bottles of cleaning product rather than buying new ones, the company is cutting down on a substantial amount of plastic waste. But food is central to the initiative, and Perez will assist in leading the charge.
Perez will oversee Kisco’s culinary services across all of its 19 communities, which are based in California, Florida, Hawaii, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia. This means not only understanding and catering to the preferences of those living in, say, Southern California, but also being aware of how preferences differ in Kisco’s Texas and Southeastern communities. They can represent a wide range, Grandbouche says.
“The strength of what we do is not just an amazing dish, but is in working with our chefs, listening to residents, looking at menus and making sure they represent regional tastes,” he says. “We are not going to create a dining program that’s exactly the same at every community.”
Perez was trained at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Calif, and has since served in restaurant and hospitality positions in Hawaii and California, spanning corporate chef roles as well as playing a part in new restaurant launches.
He recently launched The Positive Plate program, and is a founding member of the Culinary Liberation Front—both of which are focused on sustainable dining.
“At The Positive Plate, I’m able to help restaurants create valuable impacts on their communities by learning local needs and utilizing local resources,” Perez says. “Kisco shares the same passion for quality and delicious food that I do, and I’m excited to bring my perspective on sustainability to its communities.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker