Providing more meals than the average Dallas restaurant, the Presbyterian Village North (PVN) dining services team works diligently to provide up to 1,200 meals every day. The senior living community is nearing the completion of a $93 million expansion project and now offers residents many options, not only in terms of housing and amenities, but also in dining venues. Currently, residents, friends, family and team members are being offered meals from many different dining venues generously spaced throughout the entire 63 acres which make up PVN. While many people may still have an outdated idea of what senior dining looks like, it is vastly different from the plates of unappealing food served in a cafeteria setting which were given to seniors in the nursing homes of the past. Instead, a new wave of dining trends is taking over the senior living industry, and they are modeling their venues and kitchens after high-class resorts. Just like you would find at a resort, each venue offers a unique dining experience catering to the varied tastes, occasions and needs of the seniors who dine there. Dining Services Director Dane Cummins has worked in the senior living industry for the past 25 years and can speak to the changes and trends that are influencing senior living dining services.
“There have been so many changes over the last couple of decades, most notably that seniors want more variety and they want healthier options,” said Cummins. “Before, providers delivered comfort foods that resembled the ‘home-style’ cuisine many seniors grew up eating around their family dinner tables. Now, seniors are more world-traveled, and they have developed tastes for a broad spectrum of cuisine found all over the world. They also want healthier options, such as stevia sweeteners, Himalayan salt, grass-fed beef, wild salmon, organic fruits and vegetables and alternative cooking oils, which we are happy to provide. We incorporate seasonal vegetables and dishes through a five-week rotating menu, as well as chef’s specials and signature specials. We also offer residents an ‘Always Available’ menu so those with tried-and-true favorites can order them whenever they are in the mood for them. These include a healthy pan-seared salmon, as well as one of the most popular dishes, the Kentucky Hot Brown, a hot sandwich inspired by The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Ky. with grilled turkey, tomato, bacon and cheddar cheese on Texas Toast. All of these items are cooked fresh on the grill and are accompanied by a number of sides from which residents can choose. In addition to the rotating menu, the always available menu, chef’s specials and seasonal inspirations, the community offers fun weekly specials as well, such as a grass-fed burger cooked with sautéed mushrooms and fried tobacco onions every Wednesday during peak lunch hours.”
The many dining venues that comprise Presbyterian Village North include full-service dining rooms, buffet-style dining areas, full-service private dining rooms, family-style dining areas where residents eat around a large table like a typical family, a bistro, a café and two dining areas for team members. The Café offers options such as the smoked salmon kale salad with feta, the Reuben on marble rye or the French Dip. All breads are delivered fresh to the community daily from a local bakery. The Café also offers light options such as soups, salads, sandwiches, smoothies and a variety of coffee beverages. Chef’s specials take on all kinds of fun recipes, one of the recent ones being a whiskey-peach-glazed brisket over pinto bean ragout.
“When you talk about a celebrity chef, the residents of Presbyterian Village North don’t think about chefs from major TV networks or at local four- and five-star restaurants, they think of PVN’s head Chef Kevin Neff,” said Cummins. “He is their celebrity chef. He’s the one who makes them happy every day and takes care of their needs and requests. It can be challenging to create dishes that meet the dietary restrictions of seniors, like minimizing salt content, while keeping the flavor. We accept these challenges and work hard every day to ensure that the food not only tastes delicious, but that the presentation, smell and texture of the food is on point as well. The five senses start to diminish as we age, so we put a lot of effort into making sure we cater to senior’s culinary needs and enhance the five senses in any way we can.”