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{ 10 Tips for Trimming Dining Costs }


to cook in bulk, right? Tat’s not how Ader sees it. “We run our places more like restaurants, doing more cook to order. It’s the best way to keep costs low. Tis way, if you don’t cook it, you don’t waste it. If you cook 10 pieces of fish at once, you are going to waste some, and it won’t be as good. So you cook them one at a time.”


It takes a little longer, but why rush Lessons from Hotels


Douglas Anderson is used to feeding a crowd. Besides the ongoing surges for weddings, conferences, and other events, he also copes with the typical daily flow of some 400 people as executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. As he looks at the senior living environment, he sees similarities. “The


mistake you can make in that environment is the same mistake you make in a hotel: to assume everyone wants the same thing, and to make it the same for everyone,” he says. In fact, there’s a lot senior living can learn from the hotel world. Bobby Jef-


frey spent 15 years in hotels before becoming director of culinary operations at The LaSalle Group. It was a valuable experience. “Hotels teach you how to do the quicker pace, how to do a lot of things at


once. And you need a lot of that here, because you don’t have the same labor pool you have in a hotel,” he says. “So you also pick up a lot of organizational skills.” In some ways, senior living may have an edge. For large-scale food service


to succeed, “your staff has to want to do it,” Anderson says. Senior housing can attract that enthusiastic staff if it plays up certain strengths. “You can offer a more consistent lifestyle, a more consistent schedule. So you can attract more stability in talent, just because it’s more predictable than the restaurant world.”


tasks take. If you can do that, it creates


phenomenal efficiency,” says Joe Cuti- celli, CEO of Sodexo Seniors North American.


How long does service take? How


much does that vary by meal or by service type? “A management person actually needs to follow through and watch this process happen for a week, see what is being done efficiently, and create a process around the best practices they have observed,” he says. “Ten you implement that practice across every dining time. You break down every task into a unit of mea- surement, and that is how you do your scheduling. Te first time around, it is a little bit time consuming, but those upfront investments yield great rewards on the back side.”


8. Don’t skimp on hiring.


Olla’s back-of-the-house staff has a quarter million dollars in discretionary spending to do all the food purchasing. With that much on the table, why would he go cheap on the hiring side? “We need to hire somebody with the very best resume. Even if it costs us another $10,000, that is still a drop in the bucket when it comes to food expenditures. And then you have to develop them. Great people don’t always start off great. A lot of it is about building trust: Tey need to trust me if they are going to buy into what we are trying to get them to do. I need to stand shoulder to shoulder with them. It’s a lot of work, but it is worth it.”


9. Cook to order. It may sound counterintuitive: It’s cheaper


26 SENIOR LIVING EXECUTIVE | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015 | WWW. ARGENTUM.ORG


meal service? “Tis is supposed to be an experience and if it takes a little bit longer to serve them that food, we come out ahead in the long run,” he says. Coordination is key. “When you cook it to order just before serving, it’s all about communication. Tey have to know how much they are going to prep, how they are going to hold it. You have to have production meetings between your chef and your staff. We call it the daily action meeting. We talk about prep that is needed for the day. We talk about any specials or functions. We talk about the leftovers and what we can do with those. We talk about cleaning, safety tips, customer feedback. Tis is all pretty standard.”


10. Be consistent.


Have set recipes. Nobody improvises. “If you standardize, your flavor is going to be consistent, and your ingredients and portions sizes will not get thrown off. You know what inventory they are using, otherwise they may be using a higher- quality product that you were saving for something else. Portion sizes, in particular: If you don’t standardize those, that is a very easy way to go over cost,” Fillmore says.


Adam Stone is a staff writer for Senior Living Executive. Reach him at editor@argentum.org.


Who’s Who


Contact information for members in this article.  Harris Ader | hader@maxwell-group  Douglas Anderson | douglas.anderson@fourseasons.com  Joe Cuticelli | contact carolyn.reynolds@sodexo.com  Dana Fillmore | info@gfs.com  Bobby Jeffrey | bjeffrey@lasallegroup.com  Nick Olla | nicko@merrillgardens.com,  Merry Schellhase | mschellhase@hraonline.net


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