Cura Celebrates National Nutrition Month Every Month with BeWell! 

In keeping with the spirit of March’s National Nutrition Month, Cura shares a responsibility to incorporate nutrition into every medical, dining and wellness care plan, not only during the month of March, but all year long!

To support Cura’s wellness efforts, residents experience healthy eating and nutrition education through BeWell, an Elior North America program that recognizes food is a powerful influence on health and wellness.  A proud member company of Elior, Cura benefits from BeWell which offers healthy menu options that feature plant based and lean proteins, as well as meets the specific dietary needs of residents, patients and guests!

Making the healthy choice is an easy choice through BeWell!  In fact, BeWell’s blueberry trademark is featured on Cura’s menus, which makes it easy for guests to identify, for example, items that are trans-fat free, gluten free, prepared with minimally processed ingredients, and are low in sodium and in sugar. These menu items are always convenient, attractive and normal!

BeWell also aligns perfectly with the 2021 National Nutrition Month campaign “Personalize Your Plate”.  Many of Cura’s culinary teams are celebrating, using BeWell’s promotional, marketing and merchandising tools to help those who dine with us make informed choices and choose well!

Registered dietitians, nutritionists, dietetic technicians and clinicians also partner with Cura’s chefs to enhance BeWell presentations with education, helpful tools and guidance on food intake, nutrition and taste. Together, they help those to achieve specific health-related goals, and overall, help us all lead a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle!

Cura culinary team members like Dennis Rivera, a sous chef, presents monthly BeWell demonstrations where residents enjoy an educational and entertaining live cooking demo on easy to replicate recipes such as Tuscan spaghetti squash with kale and mini salmon turmeric almond cakes over blackberry spinach salad!

In addition to the robust collection of BeWell recipes, Cura inspires its chefs to personalize menus. Chef Rivera uses fresh ingredients and spices from his Puerto Rican heritage to infuse flavor while reducing, for example, sodium intake.   “My favorite ingredients that are traditionally used in Puerto Rican cooking is sofrito,” he says. “It is the main ingredient used in most of our dishes.”

Sofrito is made with a mixture of white onions, assorted peppers which include yellow, green, and red peppers. Other ingredients include olive oil, garlic cloves, cilantro, a dash of salt and recao, an herb, similar to cilantro.  Once all ingredients are cut and chopped, they are put into a food processor and blended until all are mixed well.  “You can add Sofrito to soups, stews, rice, sauces, and many more dishes that will bring them to life with an amazing flavorful taste,” he adds.

BeWell is also offered to staff of continuing care retirement communities and healthcare facilities who rely on Cura to help keep them healthy!  A “Plant of Action” station at Holy Redeemer Healthcare System in Meadowbrook, PA, featured vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options such as grilled vegetable panini with yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant and red peppers with guacamole and shredded mozzarella on a gluten free flatbread for patients, nurses and doctors.  

At Pickering Manor in Newtown, PA, BeWell, was also used to leverage awareness for American Heart and American Diabetes months where chefs prepared heart healthy and low sodium dishes that incorporate lean proteins, vegetables and nuts.

The time is now to create a memorable, nutritious and delicious dining experiences safely for your residents, patients, staff and guests…  ENHANCE LIFE AROUND GREAT FOOD by partnering with Cura… the specialists in innovative dining!


Providence Point Authentic Flavors



Can’t leave your community? Providence Point in Pittsburgh, PA, brings everything from regional to global flavors to resident dining! From Switzerland to Alaska to Maine, the menus are unique and authentic!   According to Cura General Manager of Dining Cheryl Torre-Rastetter D.T.R, B.S “We are offering a series of themed meals from regions around the country as well as global flavors from countries such as Switzerland that residents enjoyed in late January.”

With no guests permitted in the Neville Dining Room, the team continues to offer their themed meals “Neville Delivered” to resident apartments and cottages.  Executive Chef Caleb Hicks and Sous Chef Malana Falconer prepared popular foods from Switzerland including Swiss Sulatteller (salad with vinegar dressing); polenta with braised beef; Hacktatschi (flattened Swedish meatballs); baked cod with tapenade and tomato; Tartiflette (potato casserole); Spargelrisotto (asparagus risotto salsify); and raspberry cream puff with Swiss chocolate.

Residents even experienced Alaska with Calello Gallego with Spanish chorizo, crab salad, fresh poached salmon with piccata and oysters Rockefeller!

Providence Point residents have been participating in the dining series since 2012 where they have enjoyed customs and food traditions of France, Italy, and Greece.  “Prior to COVID, we were able to engage with residents in the dining room by using the occasion to educate, introduce a social element and the traditions around the food.”

But this hasn’t deterred Ms. Torre Rastetter and her team.  Another “to-go” event, chefs prepared a Viva Italiano with Italian stuffed pork tenderloin with wild rice mushroom stuffing topped with an Alfredo chardonnay sauce; or prosciutto wrapped shrimp with fresh mozzarella balls and basil pesto; or grilled swordfish with beurre blanc sauce. All served with salad, sides, and a cannoli – of course!

Providence Point residents even enjoyed an authentic luau themed feast! Delicious salmon salad, Laulah pulled pork, pipkaula (marinated flat iron steak), sesame seared tuna steak with balsamic lime reduction, and more!  The dining team also donned Hawaiian attire and scribes’ messages and pictures on the to-go containers so that residents know that they are missed and loved!

Who said you must leave the comforts of your home to enjoy fine dining of the world!



Natchitoches Salad Toss Up Increases Sales

We have heard it time and time again – cafes and food service establishments are hit hard by the pandemic.  But instead of conceding to the pandemic, Cura’s teams are reinventing, offering safe services to bring their customers back.

According to Chef Director Scott Simpson at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center in Natchitoches, Louisiana, 20% of our business came from members of the community and local offices.  In fact, prior to the pandemic, hospital administrators encouraged the community to dine and enjoy the Cane River Cafe’s offerings, even conducting meetings here.  “We didn’t’ realize how much business we did with the community until we experienced the impacts of COVID.”

Removing self-serve stations, including our beloved salad bars, had Simpson’s customers missing their greens!  To make up for the loss in revenues, Simpson created the Salad Toss Up, which accounts for 14.58% of total sales since the launch earlier this year.

The Salad Toss Up employs an attendant who stands behind the salad bar and a protective plexiglass shield, preparing salads made-to-order! Customers select their base from spinach, romaine, or iceberg; three toppings; some crunch; proteins and dressing.  “We tried grab and go, but you can’t replace customizing your salad.  Plus, our team members engage our customers.  It’s a win for us, as well as our customers,” says Simpson.

A Wild Card Wednesday promotion also adds excitement as the menu is not advertised!  “The idea is to create a little intrigue, encouraging medical staff to take a break and visit the cafe to discover the menu of the day!   “Staff will call and try to get our staff to share the menu – but we won’t reveal!   Annie Simpson, our retail manager is having a lot of fun with that, ” says Simpson.

Simpson also offers Seasonal Plate with a twist.  Seasonal Plate is a monthly seasonal food promotion created by Elior North America, Cura’s parent company. Seasonal Plate focuses on offering fresh ingredients with unique seasonings.  Menu selections may include a chicken Brussels grain bowl, an adobo chicken sandwich, or a pork torta with cabbage slaw, to name a few. “We implement what will work here.  So, for example, instead of sweet potatoes, James Coutee, our lead cook, offered sweet potato waffles with breakfast hash.

Employees are also inspired to come up with their own recipes.  “For example, we held a chili month where we invited staff to prepare their own chili and decide how to serve.  A Texas-style chicken chili helped to drive sales by 15-20%,” he says.

Amanda Roberts, clinical nutrition manager, will also provide educational materials on eating in moderation, and helping customers to make healthier decisions. Tony Bernstine, “Cookie” Brown and Felicia Soileau are also major contributors to the cafe’s culinary successes.

“It’s the slight changes and keeping everything different and new each week is what’s making the difference,” Simpson says.



Peter Becker Gives Residents Their Community Back


Peter Becker Community  (PBC) in Harleysville, PA, finally reopened their independent living (IL) dining venues on Monday, March 1st.  Residents celebrated by making reservations for an all-day Asian buffet in the Garden View Dining Room, or they could dine casually in the Seasons Cafe.  “We wanted to give all of our IL residents the opportunity to dine with us on Monday,” says Josh Crandall, general manager of dining.

The community was able to open successfully after PBC CEO and President Suzanne Owens advocated for all her residents to finally receive the COVID vaccination.  According to Ms. Owens, while long-term care residents are at the top of Pennsylvania’s priority list in phase one of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, PBC had not received enough of the supply. Ms. Owens testified during a Pennsylvania state hearing on COVID vaccinations.   “Not only have our seniors suffered immensely during this pandemic, but they are at the highest risk of fatality. Whether they ever see their families and loved ones again rests in our ability to distribute the vaccine to this demographic.”

The pandemic has been quite isolating for residents, particularly the IL residents who live in the apartments and cottages.  “Because they don’t have full meal plans, they felt disconnected from the community because we didn’t want them to enter our buildings during the height of COVID.  We encouraged them to do take out and utilize our delivery services for both food and our grocery program,” says Crandall.  PBC and Cura designed tier-level dining plans featuring multiple levels of participation, flexibility and opportunities designed to accommodate residents best suited for occasional dining, weekly dining as well as daily dining at all four PBC campus restaurants.  “We had finally built a robust program for them, only to lose our momentum when COVID hit,” he says.

However, IL took advantage of the robust grocery program, take-out food service and outdoor dining as a safe “al fresco” alternative.  “Over 80 IL residents participated in our grand opening for outdoor dining where they were served a shrimp quinoa salad bowl with slaw prepared by our new Executive Chef Sam Conti! Outdoor dining was open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For the indoor grand opening celebration, Crandall had over 100 reservations for lunch and dinner scattered from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  “Most reservations were in the evening, but we encouraged residents to beat the crowds and come out for lunch.  Adhering to Elior Safe Cafe guidelines we can accommodate 50 residents at a time, but we also have areas for overflow.  The goal is for people in the dining room to socialize, interact and to experience the food that featured general Tso chicken, soy ginger braised beef and stir fry shrimp,” Crandall says.

Thank you to Ms. Owens for her success in securing vaccines for all PBC residents and to give them their community and “dining” back!



St. Clair Hospital Transitions to POD System



Patient satisfaction surveys have always ranked St. Clair’s team members, under the management of Cura, with excellent customer service.  But a new way of serving food enhances the patient experience at St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA, where the team successfully transitioned from a traditional tray line to a POD system.

Pods are self-contained multiple serving units that deconstruct the traditional tray line into several smaller units.  A dedicated team member works at each pod assembling trays for specific hospital units or floors.  “The pods give our concierges ownership and responsibility for their trays, improving delivery of food to patients and enhancing the overall patient experience!  The staff has embraced and loves the new system,” says Emily Guidash, MS, RDN, LDN, general manager of dining.

According to Ms. Guidash, tray lines are labor intensive and don’t provide flexibility.   “There are five people that always need to man this system – a starter, a hot food server, a salad person, a beverage position and a supervisor.  If you have someone who calls off, you must fill the position.  Typically, a concierge is pulled off the floor to assist with the tray line – it wasn’t a good system,” says Ms. Guidash.

St. Clair has constructed four pods where one server will plate for two concierges.  Each pod is composed of one serving station with one refrigerator unit.  The concierges build the tray by placing cold food, utensils, condiments, and beverages​ on the tray.   At the same time, the server plates the hot food and gives the plate to the concierge.  Once the concierge has their cart full, the concierge leaves the kitchen and delivers the trays to the hospital floor he or she is responsible for.  “This was a huge change for our concierges as they are not accustomed to building trays.  But after one week, they are ​adjusting well!” she says.

The room service component remains the same, where concierges take patient orders bedside with an I-Pad.  This user-friendly order system puts everything at the fingertips of the concierge including menus and specialized diet selections.

A POD system nicely aligns with Cura’s Completely Satisfied Program,  a patient experience model that focuses on each patient’s specific health and dietary needs, as well as their unique preferences. “Our goal is to keep the patient properly nourished, move our services faster and help maintain safe food temperatures which all helps speed up the healing process. Concierges are also able to establish consistency and build stronger relationships with the nursing staff,” says Ms Guidash.

Congratulations to our full-time concierges:  Tom Jarvis;  Christal Galardi; Sarah O’Neill; Rose Murray; David Adams; Livia Forte; Katrina Hareza and Samantha Maffei.   A big shout out to Victoria Kelly,  our administrative assistant, and David Puchi, supervisor, who has been critical in helping to adjust the job flows.

Heart Warming Celebrations

February was full of heart-warming events.  From Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of six more weeks of winter, resident events and BeWell demonstrations at Cedar Creek and Menno Haven, to capturing the hearts of staff at Holy Redeemer and Rush Foundation and Specialty Hospitals, Cura turns the doldrums of winter into colorful, festive and heart-healthy celebrations!

Since a traditional “Ground Hog” Day could not be held due to the pandemic, the Cura team at Punxsutawney Area Hospital in Punxsutawney, PA, created this cool promotion to engage medical staff!


The Think Spring” or “Six More Weeks of Winter” prediction promotion was created by Nettie Albohali, general manager, with help from Ron Burkhardt, Cura director of dining services at Punxsutawney, where they packaged a variety of winter or spring desserts including a groundhog cookie and hot chocolate mixes!  Medical staff and guests were able to purchase giving them the opportunity to choose (and wish) what they wanted!  Nettie, who is also the general manager of dining at Indiana Regional Medical Center, adapted this idea from Indiana!

At Holy Redeemer Hospital in Meadowbrook, PA, Cura shared their passion for culinary with a Valentine’s themed inspired menu to lift the spirits of our healthcare workers at Holy Redeemer’s Meadowbrook campus café.

According to John Martinelli, Cura director of retail and catering, “This is part of our monotony breakers in the café.  Especially during the pandemic, our medical staff need a place for respite, to unwind and just enjoy some time away from their responsibilities.  It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ for all their hard work!”

This isn’t the first time Martinelli and his staff have provided a special event in the café.  An all-chocolate pop-up action station was recently created as something different and “sweet” to supplement guests’ lunch, while increasing the average price per transaction by 12%.  “The objective of the chocolate action station was to celebrate National Chocolate Day.   Due to popular demand, the chocolate action station returned where customers were tempted with several kinds of handmade chocolate covered strawberries, cheesecakes with assorted toppings, and a triple chocolate truffle cake.”

A Valentine’s breakfast featured a ‘Don’t Go Bacon My Heart’ with three heart-shaped pancakes and bacon strips, served with a small coffee or juice.  The lunch hour offered specials to the standard menu including a Marry Me Chicken Special, a special chicken creation along with a heart-shaped shrimp kabob.

Rush Foundation and Specialty Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi, repurposed their salad bar for Valentine’s Day.   According to District Manager Jonathon Robinson, the salad bar has been closed since COVID.  “Since it’s the first station you see upon entering the cafeteria, our team uses the salad as a way to showcase grab-and-go foods and holiday specialty items.” Renee Jennings, a 25-year veteran baker, prepared homemade red velvet cupcakes, brownies with red icing, sugar cookies with red and white sprinkles, and vanilla cupcakes.

A unique dinner was served to independent residents at the Life Center Grille at Menno Haven in Chambersburg, PA.  Residents enjoyed a

  • Seafood Stew – A Generous Portion of Cod Fish, Clams, Shrimp, Crab, & Tomato’s in a rich Saffron infused Seafood Stock. Served with Grilled Sourdough. 
  • Surf and Turf Slider Combo – One Mini Lobster Roll with Lobster, Mayo, Celery, & Old Bay Seasoning, alongside a Mini Beef Wellington Sandwich with Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Wild Mushroom Dijon Blend, & Gruyere Cheese. 
  • Citrus Asparagus & Pistachio Salad.
  • Red Velvet Whoopi Pies and Chocolate Covered Strawberries  

During a recent lunch, Cura surprised patients at Allegheny Health Network Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Hills, PA, with get-well cards added to their trays compliments and drawn by the k-8 students at St. Louise de Marillac School in Upper St Clair! What a nice way to show care and compassion to our patients, and extremely artistic children!

Happy Fat Tuesday from Allegheny Health Network Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights, PA, where Baker Mary Coward treats us all to Paczki (Polish doughnuts) baked fresh on premises with a variety of fillings including cream, chocolate, apricot and raspberry!

We can’t forget about our BeWell demonstrations.  Greg Andrews, director of dining services, and Jill Johnson, wellness registered dietitian, recently hosted their monthly BeWell demonstration at Cedar Creek Senior Living in East Bethel, MN.  The New Year, New You featured almond, cherries, sea salt & dark chocolate bark. It was a delicious success for our sweet loving residents!


Allegheny Health Network Successful Openings


CONGRATULATIONS to our Cura teams on beginning a successful transition of food and nutrition services operations at all Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) facilities in Pennsylvania to Cura!   Our teams understand the preferences and expectations of AHN’s patients, staff and guests – both in terms of nutrition and hospitable service. This understanding drives the satisfaction of our patients and guests and supports our mission of care in the community!

The first week in January, we began transitioning the Canonsburg Hospital and Forbes Hospital (Monroeville), followed by West Penn (Pittsburgh) and Grove City Hospital on January 30th.   We are currently transitioning at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, while St. Vincent (Erie) will follow on March 22nd.  St. Vincent will also provide patient meals at Westfield Memorial Hospital in New York.  Cura will also serve AHN’s newest hospital at Wexford scheduled to open in the fall of 2021! Cura continues to proudly serve Jefferson Hospital and Allegheny Valley Hospital.

Cura’s history with AHN began in 2013, serving Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Hills, Pa., followed by a second location in 2014 at Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights, Pa. Cura was selected to manage the retail and demonstration kitchen at AHN’s former Wexford Health and Wellness Pavilion in late 2014 where Cura chefs and dietitians offered healthy cooking and nutrition education workshops that were open to the community.

“We’re excited to extend our service to the entire AHN network of hospitals, continually enhancing dining services, while providing an experience that exceeds the expectations of patients and guests. We are proud of this lasting partnership and are honored to contribute to the fulfillment of AHN’s mission to care for people and for our community,” said Lisa Schairer, managing director of Cura at Elior North America, Cura’s parent company.

 Partnership-focused approach

Cura’s partnership-focused approach has resulted in leading patient satisfaction ratings for the AHN dining facilities under its management. Cura aligns its “Completely Satisfied Patient Experience Model” with the goals of AHN’s Operations Excellence Program which follows five pillars, including: safety, quality, patient experience, efficiency and human development. This alignment has made a significant impact on the overall quality of care for patients at Jefferson Hospital and Allegheny Valley Hospital and resulted in the highest patient satisfaction ratings above all others in the network.

“Through the Completely Satisfied Program, the Patient Experience team focuses on each patient’s specific health and dietary needs as well as their unique preferences. They partner with nursing staff to uplift patient spirits through quality food and personal service, while instilling feelings of community and contentment which is vital for well-being. Keeping the patient properly nourished helps speed up the healing process. We want to create a memorable dining experience for all patients,” said Kristen Azzarello, vice president for Cura at AHN.

Cura’s high patient experience performance scores also contribute to the hospital’s high-ranking Press Ganey scores, the most recognized national patient-experience measurement metric. Additionally, Cura uses the Studer Group principal for communication, AIDET (Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation, Thank You), which complements the AHNCARES model (Communicate, Acknowledge, Respond, Empathize, Solve). Using this type of communication tool enhances patient safety, decreases patient fears, and improves the patient’s overall experience.

Cura’s care for patients and guests has been recognized by AHN’s RAVE, the “Recognized and Acknowledge Valued Employees” award. Cura’s team members were among the first non-AHN employees to receive the prestigious award that honors employees who provide exemplary care or service to a patient, a patient’s relative, friend, or a fellow employee.   

 Health and wellness-focused food service

AHN has also selected Cura for its reputation in preparing fresh, healthy food and high-quality service. As one of the first healthcare food service providers in the U.S. to eliminate trans-fatty acids from its menus, Cura’s executive chefs strive to prepare the healthiest dining options possible. Cura teams also make substantial commitments to promoting healthier lifestyles through BeWell, a platform designed to educate and help guests make eating healthy the easy choice when they dine with Cura.

Responding to Covid-19

As the pandemic caused a need for increased food safety, Cura supported AHN with its own Covid-19 “playbook,” a guide detailing enhanced health and safety protocols amid new safety guidance from national health authorities. Everything, from implementing enhanced hygiene, to safeguarding employees, staff, patients and guests, is covered in the guide.

Creating a safe haven at AHN cafés has been essential to AHN health providers and staff. To help ease the strain that medical providers are under due to the pandemic, Cura teams at Jefferson and Allegheny Valley Hospitals repurposed cafeterias into pop-up grocery markets to support their nutritional needs, providing a convenient food shopping experience for them. At Jefferson Hospital, staff can easily purchase staples like milk, loaves of bread, butter, eggs, and iced tea from upright coolers, and culinary teams at Allegheny Valley Hospital made ordering pizza and other to-go, family-style meals easy for healthcare workers to pick up from the café on their way home.

Cura, Passavant Market Fresh at Home; Unveils at The Bistro Reopening

A unique partnership is “cooking” at Lutheran SeniorLife at Passavant Community in Zelienople, PA, where Cura is now part of an entertaining video used to market the community’s residential spaces and Fresh at Home, take-home meal kits, to prospective and current residents!


Fresh at Home was also launched to current residents and Passavant employees during the grand re-opening celebration of The Bistro on February 22, closed for nearly a year due to the pandemic.  “Following the Elior branded Safe Cafe guidelines, our team was very happy to reopen and to finally see our residents in person, approaching our services to something more normal,” says Barbara Ferguson, RDN, LDN, general manager of nutrition services for Cura.
The community’s marketing department came up with the idea to promote the living spaces and Cura’s new Fresh at Home.  For a cost of only $10- $12, the meal kit comes complete with fresh ingredients that are pre-packaged, along with step-by-step recipe instructions so residents can easily use the ingredients to prepare a delicious meal in their home in less than 30 minutes.
According to Kasandra Leighland, director of marketing and communications for Passavant, one of the things residents are particularly interested in prior to moving into a community like ours, is the food.  Cura does a great job in delivering and providing special touches.  “We want to build upon that and feature the expertise of our chefs and what Cura has to offer,” Ms. Leighland says.
Passavant’s audio and visual department produced the cooking video in a residential living space featuring Cura’s Executive Chef Gregory Fried preparing apricot chicken with roasted potatoes and green beans.  “It gives prospective residents an idea of cooking the Fresh at Home meal kit in their new kitchen at Passavant,” says Ms. Leighland.
Prospective residents were invited to Passavant while Cura was working on deploying Fresh at Home which includes chicken, fish, pasta, pork, and vegetarian recipe options.  “They loved the concept, the simplicity and the cost.  In fact, they wanted to know how they could have Fresh at Home delivered to their home before moving in!” says Ms. Leighland.
Residents and employees were also excited to be back at The Bistro, a casual setting open to both residents and staff.  The Bistro is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The menu offers meals made to order, fresh dough pizza from the pizza oven, grab and go and other convenience food and beverages from the cooler.  “Residents and staff also enjoy freshly baked pastries, cookies and cakes homemade by our baker Jessica Hendrick, and daily specials such as fish tacos.  You can tell residents are so excited to be back,” Ms. Ferguson adds.
During the grand opening, residents received Fresh at Home order forms, enjoyed complimentary apricot chicken samples, and watching the cooking video that currently airs on the community’s in-house tv channel.
Fresh at Home was also added to the dining’s extensive grocery program, which has been extremely popular during the pandemic.  Residents can add the meal kit to their weekly grocery list, along with milk, bread, fruit, eggs, and other proteins.  Order forms are available throughout campus, with several drop off locations, as well as new forms in their grocery delivery.   “Dining has gone out of their way, especially during the pandemic, to accommodate residents.  Current and prospective residents are seeing the value, and that the options here are unlimited,” says Ms. Leighland.
Plans are already underway for future Fresh at Home cooking shows and live demonstrations in The Bistro.  Executive Chef Gregory loves cooking for his residents, but also believes that residents should have a sense of independence.  “It’s great for their self-esteem to cook for themselves.  Fresh at Home makes it easy for them to do so,” he says.

In the meantime, Passavant is busy, providing prospective residents with the cooking show DVD along with a Fresh at Home package – giving them a taste of the possibilities of life at Passavant



Cura Innovates Dining During Pandemic

It’s a common scene during the COVID pandemic, to find empty dining rooms, cafes and gathering spaces in our continuing care retirement communities (CCRC). Rooms that were once filled with ways to keep the community entertained are now finding themselves following new empty orders to keep our seniors safe. Many have been isolated, lonely, not being able to socialize with family and friends.  Isolation is replaced with innovation that has Cura Hospitality, a senior living dining specialist and part of the Elior North America family of companies, competing for smiles!

 Cura is recognized by clients, residents, and their families for their creativity and providing food service opportunities that not only engages independent, assisted living and personal care residents “safely” during this challenging time, but nourishes and, more importantly…enhances life around great food!  According to TJ Alibrio, Managing Director of Partnership Development for Cura, “Administrators and clients express that one of their main concerns are how we are adapting food services so that isolated residents and patients are still able to enjoy a meal while safely socializing with others.”

Dining is an experience, a major part of the social scene that residents look forward to daily.   “From the beginning of the pandemic, our teams engaged and continue to think out of the box.  They use Cura’s marketing’s resources and monthly promotions.  Or, operators adapt to what we provide to them, personalizing to the culture and traditions of their community,” Alibrio says.

Back in March of 2020, messaging residents seemed like something small, but it created a huge impact.  At communities like Providence Point in Pittsburgh, General Manager Cheryl Torre Rastetter was proud of Providence Point dining team members who took it upon themselves to sketch cartoon like pictures with personal messages on take-out containers.  During the height of COVID, 299 meals were delivered daily to independent, plus 144 to healthcare and personal care. The team decided to go the extra mile and added in word searches and crossword puzzles.  “Even though it was a simple picture or message to them, it shows residents that they are loved and missed,” Ms. Torre Rastetter says.

Residents at Phoebe Berks in Wyomissing, PA, also received messages of encouragement and special deliveries!  Susanne Naylor’s on the phone when her doorbell rings on a recent afternoon. It’s Rachel Kesselring delivering dinner. “Oh, Rachel, it’s so nice to see you,” said Mrs. Naylor, 90, a retired West Lawn homemaker who lives alone and looks forward to the brief encounters with Rachel or other students who deliver meals to her apartment. Some days, they’re among the few in-person conversations she’ll have.  Rachel, who graduated from Conrad Weiser High School, is among a small team of high school students who delivered breakfast, lunch and dinner to Phoebe residents. Lifelines of a sort to elderly shut-ins, they distribute more than 900 meals a day. “They’re so courteous, I think very highly of them,” she says.

Taking advantage of the great weather, many communities took dining outside.  At Presbyterian Senior Living Westminster Woods in Huntingdon, PA, residents were entertained with several themed al fresco events.  Cura debuted “Wots” in the “Wok” where chefs prepared stir-fry meals to order and in front of residents from the fully equipped wagon that traveled throughout campus!   And, if the Wok Wagon wasn’t enough, the culinary team treated independent living residents to an “Artisan Cheese Wagon” offering five Italian inspired cheeses, including a wild mushroom cheese and bruschetta cheese from local cheese maker, “Friends Farm” in Williamsburg, PA.  Cheeses were served with grilled flat bread, fresh grapes, cannoli, and complimentary regular and non-alcoholic wine.

For those who could not dine oustide, food service was delivered door-to-door.  At the Community at Rockhill in Sellersville, PA, Cura celebrated Veterans Day with a mobile omelette station which traveled to “Veteran” resident rooms where chefs prepared omelettes to order!   Residents were also gifted a flag and certificate!

Continuing a five-year tradition, the famous farmer’s market at Sherwood Oaks in Cranberry Township, PA, a member of UPMC, provided a safe environment for residents to socialize while shopping for loaves of freshly baked breads, apple strudel, homemade pasta, chocolate bark and chili.   The market attracted approximately 60 residents, who shopped in the Sherwood Oaks lobby at assigned times. This allowed Sherwood staff to maintain pandemic precautions. Residents were screened, and were then provided with a shopping bag and permitted to tour the market.  Finding new ways to offer safe, communal dining can be tricky.

Director of Dining Services Beverly Puglia said events like the farmer’s market, which balance socialization and social distancing, help!  “We’re using this event as a guide for how we can make holidays and special occasions less lonely,” she said.

And speaking of special occasions, Cura teams didn’t let COVID disrupt cherished milestones. With a no visitation policy still in place at LutheranSenior Life at the Passavant in Zelienople, PA, the Cura team set up a special romantic table for two in the private dining room, while the family table was on the porch outside visible from a window. The family also brought in a few props and some pictures for them to enjoy! We served both the happy couple and the family their dinner and dessert so they could celebrate this joyous occasion together!  “We wanted to take a moment to thank the staff that was working the evening of the celebration.  My parent’s dinner was a total success and surprise.  Everything looked so nice and went so smoothly.  We couldn’t have asked for more under the current circumstances!” Rose Ann Milbert, Joann Streassley, Joe Gange, Mike Gange.

At Peter Becker Community in Harleysville, PA, the team recently provided another glorious and safe memory for a resident who celebrated an 80th birthday! According to Gloria Rich, who threw the birthday for her husband, Jim, “As soon as you opened up the room for residents to dine with others, I reserved the room for Jim’s birthday.  We had five couples. Since Jim cannot eat anything with dairy, I ordered his favorite lemon meringue pie for all baked fresh by Sam.  I also told Sam it was to be a surprise for Jim.  To my surprise, when we entered the room that evening, it was all decorated with balloons and party favors on the tables.  Thank you to the staff for making this dining room available to residents during this pandemic.  Now we can eat with other residents and still be safely distanced.  It is our opportunity to eat with new residents who feel very separated at this time.  It will be nice to get to know them.  Dinner was always our social hour and a time to involve new residents. Now we have a way to do that.”

Residents have also been treated to catering extravaganzas where residents have been safely distanced in the dining room.  At Providence Point, dining brings world flavors to their residents from the globe during their recent “Taste of Switzerland.”  Residents enjoyed an authentic menu with swim sulatteler, polenta with braised beef, hacktatschi, baked cod and more! We can’t forget the raspberry cream puff with Swiss chocolate!

Food service also plays a major role in supporting the fundraising efforts of CCRCs.  At Homestead Village in Lancaster, PA, the annual fund dinner offered residents options to support the event, where their upscale culinary experience was delivered to those who chose to dine in their rooms.  The menu included upscale dishes like confit spiced Snake River Farms kurobuta pork belly with vanilla-infused apple slaw and red wine reduction; pan-roasted quail with cinnamon-tawny port drunken cherries; diver scallops with celery root puree; foie gras with polenta cake and a pear-fig pavlova and a cheese course for dessert.

Keeping residents healthy during COVID has also inspired CCRCs managed by Cura to promote its BeWell program, which is designed to help our customers select the healthier choice when they dine with us. Many of Cura’s culinary teams present BeWell recipes which are convenient, attractive and normal.  For example, chefs from Phoebe Terrace in Allentown, PA, present monthly BeWell demonstrations where residents receive an education on good nutrition, while they enjoy a live cooking demo on easy to replicate recipes such as Tuscan spaghetti squash with kale and mini salmon turmeric almond cakes over blackberry spinach salad live in front of residents, socially distanced in the lobby.

BeWell is also offered to staff of CCRCs and healthcare facilities who rely on Cura to help keep them healthy!  A “Plant of Action” station at Holy Redeemer Hospital and Healthcare System at Meadowbrook, PA, features vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options such as grilled vegetable panini with yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant and red peppers with guacamole and shredded mozzarella on a gluten free flatbread for patients, nurses and doctors.  

At Pickering Manor in Newtown, PA, BeWell is used to leverage awareness for American Heart, National Nutrition or American Diabetes Months where chefs prepared heart healthy and low sodium dishes that incorporate lean proteins, vegetables and nuts.  Holy Redeemer in Philadelphia has even repurposed their salad bar from a self-service to attendant served.  A staff member will stand behind the salad bar line with silver bowls ready to mix individual salads, all of which is visible—at a distance—to the customer.  If a customer chooses a composed salad, Caesar, for example, all the components are easily tossed together in the right portions. This allows for a level of customization, and conversation, that corresponds with the comfort level of each customer.

The time is now to create a memorable, nutritious and delicious dining experiences safely for your residents, patients, staff and guests…  Enhance life around great food by partnering with Cura… the specialists in innovative dining!

Cura is a highly responsive and innovative dining services and hospitality provider dedicated to a mission of Enhancing Life Around Great Food. As part of Elior North America, the Cura team enhances peoples’ lives through culinary innovation and a commitment to providing exemplary service.






Action Stations Enhance Retail Sales

Who can resist chocolate!

The timing is perfect for the upcoming holidays as we think of dessert ideas.  Medical staff at Holy Redeemer Hospital in Philadelphia are now enjoying a new Chocolate Action Station designed by John Martinelli, director of retail and catering!   This was a great idea to supplement guests lunch, while increasing the average price per transaction by 12%!


The objective of the chocolate action station was to celebrate National Chocolate Day.   Due to the popularity of the concept, the chocolate action station will be offered more during the holidays, for special events or just as a monotony breaker!

Sous Chef Tina McQuiggan prepped and Supervisor Rydia Chamberlain artistically displayed all the desserts.  Once guests selected the dessert of their choice, Chef Tina or Rydia prepared and executed in front of them.  This consisted of filling the dark chocolate shells with fruit and adding different toppings.  For the cupcakes and cheesecake, they added a choice of different toppings (dark chocolate chunks, peanut butter cups, an assortment of flavored syrups and a few different cream toppings).

Executive Chef JT Dunn and John calculated the order to incorporate all the different types of chocolate.

Customers succumbed to temptations and indulged in these chocolate delicacies!

  • Dark chocolate shells that were filled with diced pineapple or strawberries drizzled with white chocolate syrup
  • Chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate truffle drizzled with raspberry syrup
  • Chocolate peanut butter cupcakes topped with peanut butter cup drizzled with caramel syrup
  • Chocolate chip cheesecake drizzled with dark chocolate truffle syrup
  • Chocolate cake bombes filled with chocolate mousse and cream

In other action dining station news…St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA, offers a “Personal Choice” action station where Sous Chef Joel Morgan and Executive Chef Ryan Lucci featured a carving station where customers were able to build a house-roasted turkey, bacon, and cheddar cheese sauce sandwich served on a bakery fresh pretzel roll. House-made warm German potato salad was also served on the side. The action station repurposes as a pizza station where individual pizzas are prepared to order with the toppings of customers’ choice! This has been our most requested station! Over 115 pizzas were served earlier this month, generating one of our highest sales days since COVID began!