Dining Services Director committed to “leaving a lasting impression”

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To Bob Coffman, Food Services Director at The Arbors at Dracut, cooking is more than just fixing a plate of food – it’s a passion for creating quality, delicious meals that will leave a lasting impression on each person. He didn’t always want to be a chef, but a gentle nudge from his father led him into his cooking career.

“When I was going to school to be a teacher, my dad told me that 800,000 chefs will be needed within the next 10 years, so I listened to him and went to culinary school instead. There was a lot of other people in my cooking classes with more experience, but I pushed through and learned from some of the best cooks in Europe,” says Bob.

While Bob’s cooking career started in the restaurant industry, he paid attention to the food that was being served to his parents at their assisted living community. That led him to working at a skilled nursing facility. He was also looking to pick up some extra part time work, so he applied for a kitchen opening at The Arbors at Dracut. Jonathan Athenas, Executive Director at The Arbors at Dracut, talked him into stepping out of his comfort zone and applying for the Food Services Director position.

Cooking for the Residents

Bob took that advice and started his new career at The Arbors at Dracut. To be successful in his position, Bob knew he had to really get to know the residents and talk with them about what they liked to eat.

“Every time a new resident moves in, I sit down and talk with them about what they like and dislike. I really try and take into consideration their opinions,” says Bob.

He offers the residents at least one hot choice at each meal.

“They don’t want to pick from a restaurant menu. But having just a few things to pick from allows them to feel like they’re in control,” says Bob.

Cooking classic meals is also a big deal to the residents.

“Some of the resident favorites are meatloaf, ham and we just started a lobster slider for summer time. They don’t want super fancy meals, just food they are used to eating,” says Bob.

Although, once a month they offer a fine dining experience for the residents. He’s made beef wellington, chicken cordon bleu and even homemade crepes for dessert.

“It’s all about creating an experience for the residents,” says Bob.

Having a positive environment to work in every day gives Bob the energy to always create something new.

“When the staff comes in every day with a big smile on their face saying ‘I love my job!’ it spreads outside to the dining room. The atmosphere here (at The Arbors at Dracut) is very cheerful and mellow. Very rarely is there someone having a rough day. And if they are, there is plenty of encouragement from everyone to cheer them up,” says Bob.

When you visit The Arbors at Dracut, be sure to come during a meal. The warm smell of delicious food is spread throughout the hallways. Your nose will surely point you in the direction of the dining room.

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