Assisted Living Monthly Service Fee Incentive
Jay Dorsey standing with his hands in his pockets looking at the camera while posed in front of a fireplace.

Good Food Done Right: The Transformation of Dining at Westerwood

Elevating dining experiences at a senior living community take discipline and dedication. Residents’ expectations are high—as they should be—but the secret ingredient to unique culinary experiences is relatively simple. If you start with giving people what they ask for, and then aim to exceed their expectations, you have a recipe for success. Dining Services Director Jay Dorsey’s philosophy behind the delectable creations his team dishes up at Westerwood can be summed up with one simple statement: good food done right.

We recently sat down with Jay to get all the delicious details about dining at Westerwood, and what we found was a healthy dollop of enthusiasm, a side of warmth and a dash of good ol’ Midwestern flare.


Expanded Menu

Quite a bit has happened since Jay joined the Westerwood community six months ago, and he’s grateful for the opportunity to improve service levels.  The goal, he says, is to keep residents healthy and energetic. Since nutrition plays an important role in overall wellness, his team wants to ensure traditional offerings are still available, while also challenging their tastebuds.

“We’ve transformed Westerwood by honing in on what the residents were asking for,” Jay says. “They were looking for Midwestern favorites and basics like meatloaf, stuffed peppers or salmon.”

He attributes the overall improvements to resident feedback and an open-minded staff.

“Because the cooks here are fantastic, receptive and constantly seeking feedback to improve the product, resident satisfaction has taken off,” Jay says. “With the team we’ve developed so far, they’re so open to new ideas that we get the opportunity to grow the Westerwood menu so residents can enjoy options like spinach and mushroom quiche and flatbreads for any meal of the day. We now offer new dishes like curry butternut squash and crowd favorites like the California salad and a poached pear arugula salad.”

In addition to the expanded menu, Jay explains that a critical part of his job is to provide a memorable and consistent culinary encounter to everyone in the community.

“We want to make dining an experience again,” he says. “COVID may have changed how we did things for a while, but there’s just something about sitting and enjoying the food and the atmosphere. We’ve got a lot of flavor going on! It’s how you get to know us as a community.

“And while we serve differently in our rehab center, I’m wowed by our work. The food presentation looks the same in dining as it does for someone in the rehab area. That’s uncommon in other places, making Westerwood a standout.”


Finding Inspiration and Elevating the Experience

Jay and his team never have to go too far to find culinary inspiration.

“We have a lot of conversations with residents,” he says. “We also look at what sells. For example, we held a fall festival that featured freshly baked bread and pies. And since many of our residents identify with the farming community, there was also a great response to a produce market.”

Local dining spots also help guide the Westerwood team toward comforting yet classic fare.

“A lot of residents can’t get to the pubs, so we bring the pub to them,” Jay says. “We’ll give them a beer on a Friday afternoon, and then they can come in and get some fish and chips, a delicious pub-style burger or we rotate in a Reuben sandwich.”

Other times, the dining team’s special wine & dine dinners offer a whole new adventure.

“Our wine & dine event allows 30-40 residents to sit down and have a five-course meal here on campus,” Jay says. “We dress the room up, the chef preps everything to order, and we pair the courses with wines. It allows us to get to know the residents and challenges our team; but overall, it provides an upscale dining experience.”


Event of the Year

Although there are plenty of events from New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve, Jay’s favorites are the holiday meals. Whether it’s for Thanksgiving or Christmas, he says it’s quite a rewarding experience.

“It was so good to put out an awesome meal and be complimented for it,” he says. “There’s just a great and exciting energy on the team that the residents also feel. That keeps you coming back—knowing people truly enjoyed it.”


Dine with Us

Imagine never again having to fret over what to make for every meal. As a Westerwood resident, you’ll enjoy plentiful and tasteful culinary options that range from chef’s specials to seafood and grill choices, fresh salads, amazing desserts and more. Come and see for yourself. Stroll our beautiful campus and sit down and share a meal with us! Schedule your visit by calling (614) 568-0503 today.

Send us a note

We’d love to send you more information about us or answer any questions you have. The more you learn about Westerwood, the more you’ll want it to become your new home!

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