Our Culi­nary Evo­lu­tion: Ele­vat­ing Your Din­ing Experience

Posted Jan 15, 2024

Chef Joe Crystal Standing 2

At The Arling­ton, we’ve always been ded­i­cat­ed to pro­vid­ing our res­i­dents with an unpar­al­leled lifestyle, and that includes excep­tion­al din­ing. To enhance our offer­ings, we’ve moved our food and bev­er­age ser­vice in-house. This tran­si­tion will pro­vide an expe­ri­ence that’s even more tai­lored to res­i­dents’ expec­ta­tions and preferences.

To dri­ve our vision for­ward, we’ve brought two dynam­ic culi­nary tal­ents on board: Crys­tal Thomp­son as our Direc­tor of Din­ing Ser­vices and Joe Lowrie as our Exec­u­tive Chef. Both come with impres­sive back­grounds, exten­sive skills, and a shared pas­sion for craft­ing mem­o­rable meals.

Crys­tal over­sees all the food and bev­er­age venues with­in The Arling­ton, from inde­pen­dent liv­ing to our assist­ed liv­ing, mem­o­ry care and skilled nurs­ing pro­grams at Oak­ton Place Health Care Center.

With a strong back­ground in senior liv­ing food ser­vice man­age­ment and as a sea­soned chef who once owned a notable restau­rant, Crystal’s lead­er­ship is piv­otal. One of her ini­tial key deci­sions was hir­ing Joe as Exec­u­tive Chef.

Joe’s jour­ney from his native Scot­land to The Arling­ton began with a cook­ing class he took at a com­mu­ni­ty col­lege after anoth­er class he signed up for was can­celled. He was hooked. Food became my life, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Crys­tal was impressed with Joe from their first encounter. In his cook­ing demo, Joe not only deliv­ered with finesse and con­fi­dence, he also pre­pared an unex­pect­ed sec­ond dish. It was the most amaz­ing toma­to soup I’ve ever tast­ed in my life,” Crys­tal says.

Their col­lab­o­ra­tive efforts promise deli­cious times ahead for The Arling­ton. But Crys­tal empha­sizes that this isn’t change for the sake of it.

It’s impor­tant for peo­ple to know that we’re design­ing the new menus and the din­ing pro­gram around what res­i­dents are request­ing. It’s not a cook­ie-cut­ter mod­el. This is com­plete­ly based on res­i­dent feedback.”

In our Exhi­bi­tion din­ing room, Crys­tal and Joe have revamped the menu and for­mat, increas­ing the offer­ings by 70%. In our more casu­al din­ing spaces, they’ve just launched a new menu with more selections.

Crys­tal and Joe stress the impor­tance of per­son­al con­nec­tion with The Arlington’s res­i­dents. Both can often be found in the din­ing rooms chat­ting with res­i­dents. In restau­rant par­lance, it’s called table touch­ing.’ Crys­tal and Joe want to make sure every din­er feels wel­come and understood.

The res­i­dents are basi­cal­ly a huge fam­i­ly for us,” says Joe. We always strive to be bet­ter every day based on what they tell us.”

To ensure time­ly feed­back, Crys­tal has intro­duced new com­ment cards. They’re basi­cal­ly smart cards,’” she says. Res­i­dents have the option of just scan­ning a code with their phones and mak­ing their com­ments online.”

Of course, at The Arling­ton, din­ing is not just about great food – it’s about friends and con­ver­sa­tion. Our goal,” says Joe, is to bring res­i­dents togeth­er with good food done real­ly well.”

In line with this, they’ve refreshed the Sun­day brunch, lead­ing to dou­bled atten­dance, and intro­duced themed menus like Prime Rib Night’ and Mon­day Piz­za Night.’

We’re gear­ing up now for the hol­i­days,” says Joe. The team is brain­storm­ing fes­tive dish­es based on tra­di­tion­al favorites, such as pump­kin breads, cheese­cakes and eggnog pancakes.

The Arling­ton is excit­ed about this new culi­nary chap­ter and craft­ing din­ing moments that res­i­dents will treasure.

As Joe says, I walk in the kitchen at half past six in the morn­ing and walk out at half past six at night. And after all these years, I’m still excit­ed to come to work every day.”

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