A Focus on Food

Good nutrition is important at every age. Not only is food essential to life but it is also emotional, evokes the senses, and should taste

The Summit Revamps their Culinary Program

Photos Courtesy of The Summit

Good nutrition is important at every age. Not only is food essential to life but it is also emotional, evokes the senses, and should taste good! The residents living at The Summit, a senior living facility in Lynchburg, are enjoying a major food upgrade with even more culinary progress on the horizon. Gone are the days of institutional food service in order to make way for fresh, exciting choices as residents enjoy a true destination dining experience. 

For the last twenty years, The Summit has offered seniors Independent Living homes, spacious apartments, and Assisted Living residences with twenty-four-hour care. 

“With its mission of providing residents with choices for purposeful living, The Summit is shifting services and amenities to be customizable, putting choices in the hands of those that call the community home,” explained Marketing Director Brenda Dixon. 

Some of those choices extend to dining and meals. 

“Our vision at The Summit is to provide a place for residents’ wellness to flourish where dining becomes an integral part of any wellness routine,” Dixon said. “While it has been known that a diet centered around fresh ingredients can improve your physical well-being, research is now finding that healthy eating habits can benefit your mental well-being as well. We promote community and friendship here at The Summit and we can’t think of a better way to promote community than through our culinary program by sharing a great experience around a great meal with friends. Our goal is to create a place where our residents know they can come and enjoy food that will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Photos Courtesy of The Summit

The menu at The Summit has gone through its share of changes over the years. Most recently, flexibility in menu creation, vendor sourcing, and resident input have become top priority. The atmosphere in the dining room at The Summit now feels more like a restaurant where community members can eat and enjoy. Residents choose from various meal plans, decide how often they want to eat, what they would like to eat, and how they want to spend their money on meals.

Some options on a recent menu, which rotates often, include pan-seared pork chop with peach barbecue sauce, grilled mahi with lemon garlic cream, and marinated beef medallions with mushroom demi-glace. If vegetarian choices are preferred, there is a vast array including butternut squash curry, spinach and artichoke dip pasta, and stewed chickpeas with eggplant and tomatoes. If a resident has a sweet tooth, there is a delicious dessert menu that includes French silk pie, cannoli, and brown sugar cake. There are also frequent ticketed coursed meals with wine pairings that residents can enjoy together as a community.

Who is responsible for these tasty changes at The Summit? Mitch Rodhe recently has become the Director of Culinary Services and has had a hand in implementing many improvements in his department. If you recognize his name, it could be from his last role as the Food and Beverage Director at the Craddock Terry Hotel, which includes Shoemakers and Waterstone Pizza.

Currently, only lunch and dinner are available to residents but a café is slated to open later this year where breakfast will be offered, including sandwiches, pastries, fresh fruit, bagels, and smoothies. Snacks and bites will be available focusing on finger foods and hors d’oeuvres to accompany the atmosphere of mingling and fellowship. 

Photos Courtesy of The Summit

“The community can come together, soak up those gorgeous views, and enjoy a glass of wine and some appetizers,” Rodhe said of the café and its ability to utilize an outdoor patio area on warmer days.

Chef Rodhe assures that The Summit is able to meet each resident’s dietary needs and wants whether they are due to allergies or medical restrictions but also if a resident eats gluten-free or vegetarian by choice. The Summit has new resident meetings, focus groups, and committees to discover what residents love to eat and how they are able to deliver meals in a safe and delicious way. 

“We’re going to continue the traditions of culinary excellence at The Summit, along with new options for the residents we serve,” Rodhe said. 

The idea of sustainability and farm-to-table focuses are important to The Summit and will become even more so later this year. Culinary Services is challenging vendors to offer a wider selection of locally grown fruit and produce. They also hope to partner with Lynchburg Grows, a nonprofit urban farm, to increase local sourcing availability. There is a plan to implement an herb garden and produce beds on the property to feature in daily recipes. Plant-based menu selections will be featured on the daily menu offerings incorporating plant-based proteins, fresh grains, and vegetables to meet the growing demand for vegetarian and vegan meal options. 

Chef Rodhe shared, “Buffets and action stations will become more frequent to allow our residents to get to know our kitchen team. Plus, action stations have the benefit of showcasing our ingredients before they become entrees, thus enhancing customization, temperature, and freshness of our dishes.”

Not only will this new culinary program, with its emphasis on resident engagement and satisfaction, improve quality of life for The Summit residents, it will also work to further engage the residents’ visitors.

“Our goal is to build a culinary experience in which residents are excited to host their family and friends, creating a quality experience for all residents and guests,” Dixon said. “An experience that brings joy to their days and quality nourishment to their bodies.”  


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