At the Dining Room Table
Springmoor welcomed Jennifer Mondolino, our new Dining Room Director, to the kitchen this month. Cooking is her passion. Planning, shopping, tasting, catering and serving are all part of the food experience for her. “Eating is such a big part of everyone’s life, whether it is just grabbing a quick bite to eat or a sitting down for a formal five-course dinner gala, the conversations are more enjoyable with a delicious meal,” she says.
Jennifer grew up in Stony Brook, New York. She has an undergraduate degree from Johnson and Wales University, a master’s degree in Healthcare Policy and Management from Stony Brook University and, from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, she earned a diploma in pastry and baking. To say that cooking is her passion is almost an understatement! She gives much of the credit to her mentor who shared her knowledge of what needs to happen to make the perfect meal.
The First Job
Like many teenagers, her first job was at Starbucks. This one happened to be located in a hospital. She quickly moved from Starbucks to an Assistant Director position in food service at the hospital with a wonderful mentor. The 350-bed hospital offered room-service style dining. Everything was ordered on an iPad in each patient’s room and expected to be not only delicious but also delivered in forty-five minutes or less. The hospital also served a special menu for those on the surgical recovery floors. They served family and staff in the hospital dining rooms and often catered large galas for special auxiliary events. From planning to prep, Jennifer was behind the scenes learning to do it all.
The New Job
The potential she sees at Springmoor is exciting. She says the staff and the residents are what motivate her everyday. There are a handful of employees in the dining room who have been at Springmoor for more than thirty years. She says, “You don’t see that very often! It speaks well for the community.” The staff is eager to try her new ideas as she brings in new recipes and new ways of serving. The residents love seeing her in the dining rooms. She floats from table to table asking what’s good, what can be improved and what they want to see on the menu next month.
She plans to introduce a new menu every three months with an emphasis on the fruits and vegetables that are in season. She is working on a new Premium Entrée Menu now with plans to try new recipes that are trending in the market. Duck, lamb or other local items are on her list. Offering catering for family parties, business meetings or a special event intrigues her also. The entire experience, from setting the table to preparing the food, makes event planning a creative challenge for all dining room managers and a task she is ready to jump into at Springmoor. Action Stations are in the works too. More interaction between the dining room staff and the residents will be a big part of what she hopes to try this summer.
The Dining Team
What’s the hardest part of her new job? She thinks for a moment but can’t answer this question. With a chuckle, she says, “This is such a good group of people. They are easy to work with, willing to learn and have a great sense of teamwork.” Preparing daily meals for over seven hundred residents and a large group of employees in six dining rooms and two cafés requires teamwork at its best. She has found it here in her first few weeks on the job.
She moved to North Carolina three years ago. The weather brought her here. On her days off, she can be found at the park with her golden doodle, Chase. She loves to go to the beach, to hike and to read. “I’m a Foodie,” she says, so even on a day off you can find her at the grocery store. Harris Teeter is an every day stop on her way home from the Springmoor kitchen. She doesn’t have a weekly menu planned at home. She prefers to stop and pick-up something to cook for her family after work each night. Browsing the aisles for something new is a fun way to relax. She loves baking special desserts and pastries in the winter months when the weather is cooler. They dine out occasionally, but most often prefer to be the ones in the kitchen.
Springmoor is excited about all the new ideas that Jennifer has planned for the residents and the dining staff. Her passion for food is a bonus for the residents. The residents are thrilled to have someone else shopping at the grocery store, chopping vegetables in the kitchen and cleaning up afterwards. She has come to Springmoor to spend time in the kitchen so our residents can have more time to enjoy their favorite pastimes.
If you would like to know more about Springmoor’s many amenities – from the cafés and dining rooms to the exercise classes and art studio offerings – we invite you to call 919-234-7626 or schedule a tour soon.