Congratulations to Cura’s Seeds of Success Winners

Congratulations Seeds of Success Winners!

Seeds of Success is Elior North America’s internal, peer-to-peer recognition program!  Elior North America encourages team members to recognize each other in order to create an environment where everyone feels appreciated for their contributions and accomplishments.

Team members can even recognize someone on another Elior North America team who provided exemplary service, went above and beyond or simply demonstrated kindness.

Congratulations to award winners from Cura, proud member of the Elior North America family of companies!

  • Maria Foxall, Lutheran SeniorLife Passavant
  • Julie Bembenek, Coleman House
  • Dea Tomsic, District Manager
  • Dennis Rivera, Phoebe Terrace
  • Samantha Pierce, St. John’s Specialty Care
  • Kathy Fencik, St. John’s Specialty Care
  • Kimmi Campagna, Business Development Director
  • Jeffrey Browne, Director of Marketing
  • Diana Cox, General Manager


El Castillo – Retirement in New Mexico!

Have you ever considered retirement in Santa Fe, New Mexico…?

Santa Fe was recently chosen by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the top 10 best places to retire across the entire world.

What makes Santa Fe such a special retirement haven? It’s the combination of the history, the weather, and the laid-back lifestyle – including fresh, made- to- order- food provided by Cura at El Castillo.

El Castillo is downtown Santa Fe’s only Life Plan community managed previously by A’viands.  A Life Plan Community is also known as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) for seniors who want the security of knowing they will receive high-quality health care, if ever needed.

Managed by the current dietary team for 13 years, Sandra Grasdock is the food service director and chef.  She is proud to be supported by innovative and caring individuals who are also passionate about food.  These honors go to Allyson Roulston, assistant food service director and Manny Gonsalez, the community’s baker.

“Our cooking appeals to all taste buds!  Our niche comes in with culture.  Santa Fe has a very vibrant culinary community.   So, we have to be able to compete with the local restaurants to keep our residents eating here!” says Ms. Grasdock.

The team offers creative events – everything from barbecues to culinary competitions.  As the community is small, the culinary team offers an even more personalized dining experience to the residents.  “Our events showcase what we do best and gives our residents opportunities to get to know us!” says Ms. Grasdock.  For example, the culinary team won best cream soup in the Souper Bowl competition and also competed in Albuquerque’s Gingerbread Enchantment where attendees purchased raffle tickets to win the best gingerbread house!  Proceeds benefit the local Meals on Wheels.

A diverse menu accompanies not only special events, but daily dining. Residents can select from an expansive salad bar, made-to-order deli, homemade soups to chicken, steak and even tofu dishes!

And, we can’t forget dessert.  Cherry Chipotle Pie is a favorite among residents!  It’s simply cherry pie with chipotle chilies!

Cherry Chipotle Pie Recipe
6 cups of frozen pitted cherries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp Chipotle puree
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 unbaked pie crusts
Bake at 350 degrees for 34-40 minutes

Jefferson Hospital Honors Cura Team Members

Congratulations to Cura team members at Jefferson Hospital Jovane Stephens, dining assistant and Amanda Shearer, supervisor, recipients of the Recognize and Acknowledge Valued Employees (RAVE) awards!  RAVE is an Allegheny Health Network (AHN) award that honors employees who provide exemplary care or service to patient, a patient’s relative, friend or a fellow employee.   This is the first time that non-AHN employees received the awards…we are so proud they went to Cura team members!

Here are their stories…

Jovane joined Cura at Jefferson Hospital in July 2016

For above and beyond service.  I had a test which caused me to miss breakfast.  When I returned, ‘G’ called my room and asked if a bagel was delivered.  When I said no, he promptly took my order and had an early lunch tray delivered.  This really had an impact on me and my stay.  Every time he comes to the floor, he is upbeat and positive.  He is truly a model employee.” – A Patient.

Amanda Shearer has been employed with Cura at Jefferson Hospital since November 2014

A patient was transferred to hospice care on Friday.  I had the patient Saturday until he passed on Sunday.  His wife would not leave his side and their only daughter had to leave town.  I ordered a palliative care tray and Amanda checked with her over the weekend to be sure she was fed for each meal.  Thanks to her for being a shining example of our Core Values of Patients and Family First.”  — A Unit Nurse.

Jefferson Hospital’s executive council also honored two Cura team members…

Rhonda Alderson and Cherre Falorio were also recognized during Jefferson Hospital’s Executive Leadership Rounding.  Rhonda and Cherre were given this award which recognizes excellence in the care that they provided to patients, families and staff throughout the hospital and the Allegheny Health Network.  The dining services department was specifically mentioned, as well, from a wonderful note that the hospital received from a patient and his family members.

Menno Haven Achieves First Nursing Community in World to be WELL Certified Gold; Cura Operates Centralized Culinary Kitchen

We are proud to share our client’s news!

Menno Haven’s new Rehabilitation Center in Chambersburg, PA, achieves WELL Certified Gold, and becomes the first known WELL certified skilled nursing building in the world to receive this prestigious certification by The International WELL Building Institute.  

To be WELL Certified means that a building, and everything in it, is created to provide comfort, drive better choices, and generally enhance overall health and well-being of those living and working in it.

The Cura team is proud to support Menno Haven by operating the new rehab’s center new WELL certified centralized culinary kitchen!

The construction of the culinary kitchen as an expansive centralized food production hub was part of Menno Haven’s capital plan to support the growth of the community where the need for only satellite kitchens will be required.

The focus of the culinary kitchen in the new building is around fresh, healthy, and made-to- order menu items prepared by Menno Haven’s dining partner, Cura.

As part of the certification, Cura follows the WELL nourishment standards.  “Scratch food is consistently prepared to optimize health and nutrition, while operating procedures and service levels enhance the overall dining experience,” says Jeremy Fry, Cura General Manager of Culinary Services for Menno Haven.

The culinary kitchen is designed as an open concept to the casual dining room and adjacent outdoor courtyard which serves 44 rehabilitation guests, family members and staff breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The open kitchen concept allows guest to interact with culinary team members and experience the menu items as they are prepared. The menus change on a weekly basis and feature seasonal fruits and vegetables from local Chambersburg farms which will maximize their nutritional values. Although guests have a choice of dining in the café or room service, Fry encourages guests to sit down and enjoy a meal with others which promote socialization and mental health benefits.

As the culinary hub, food is also prepared and safely delivered to satellite kitchens that service independent, personal care and skilled healthcare resident dining venues where meals are cooked off without sacrificing quality and taste.

For example, Menno Haven’s Chestnut Landing Restaurant offers residents world class dining with produce grown at Country Creek Produce.  Mouth-watering entrees such as grilled swordfish with fresh tomato relish and sautéed kale is just a sampling of what residents will find on this senior living menu!  Located in the healthcare center, About Thyme is another trend-forward bistro focused on take-out offerings where diners can grab a hot panini to go, taste the locally sourced pizza of the week or enjoy a specialty coffee beverage with friends.

Cura’s biggest impact towards the WELL certification is educating the consumer on how to make healthy food choices.  “We are serving and documenting allergen-free foods, ingredients and nutritionals for all menu items (including cycle menus) daily,” says Fry.

Cura is also making nutritional information even more accessible through frequent culinary demonstrations where onsite dietitians and executive chefs team up to present on how to create healthier food lifestyles!  Recent presentations on super foods, seasonal ingredients and how to best use root vegetables are open to Menno Haven residents, team members as well as the Chambersburg, PA community where they can sample and learn how to recreate these menu items in their homes.

Having a WELL certified building onsite allows for Cura to duplicate WELL certified nutritional standards throughout the Menno Haven communities.  “The beauty of a centralized culinary kitchen allows us to manage consistency and nutritional standards throughout Menno Haven creating a healthy, well focused and most of all – delicious experience!” says Fry.

Cura Appoints Kevin Dean to District Manager

Cura recently welcomed Kevin Dean as the company’s new district manager!

With more than 25 years of experience in managing contract food service operations, Kevin is a trained executive chef who began his career as a culinary specialist with the U. S. Navy.  During his tenure, Kevin received multiple Navy Achievement Medals for his outstanding leadership and catering expertise serving heads of state and foreign dignitaries.

Prior to joining Cura, Kevin managed multiple dining venues, as well as directed housekeeping for a multi-service military lodging facility.

Kevin was a manager and executive chef for Sodexo’s campus dining and senior living divisions where he developed programs to enhance resident life.

As a general manager and executive chef with Aramark, Kevin implemented several influential programs including a catering program designed to drive high impact sales; and a “Roadway of Growth” program to help employees achieve personal and professional goals.

A graduate of Northwood University, Kevin is a volunteer ice hockey head coach for his local high school and assistant coach at Franklin and Marshall College.

Washington Hospitals, Cura Partner to Help People with Addiction

Washington Health System

The prescription opioid and heroin overdose epidemic is a public health crisis in Pennsylvania.  As a partner to the Washington Heatlh System in Western, PA,  we are in this together to help people afflicted with substance abuse addiction.

Beginning in late November 2018, Washington Hospital in Washington, PA, and Cura were approached by the Greenbriar Treatment Center in Washington, PA, to prepare nutritious meals for their clients.

According to Dave Tofanelli, Cura general manager for both Washington Hospital and Washington Hospital Greene, “We prepare 100 meals for lunch and 100 meals for dinner seven days per week.  The meals are picked up by their staff and taken to their facility offsite.”

Unfortunately, the epidemic is affecting Pennsylvanians across the state, from big cities to rural communities.  At Washington Hospital Greene in Waynesburg, PA, available beds were a blessing to another nearby Greenbriar Treatment Center, which gave their 28 clients a temporary home to heal.  As their dining partner, Cura is also providing meal service onsite for lunch and dinner, as well as a hot breakfast every other Sunday.

Washington Hospital operators are happy about the partnership.  It gives Greenbriar the opportunity to provide the therapy their clients require, while together the Washington Hospitals and Cura are able to serve those in need.

“As the need for Greenbriar’s services grow, they know that Cura and Washington Health System are trusted resources that will be there to support their mission in defeating substance abuse.  It’s a win/win for all,” says Tofanelli.

Phoebe Gets Into the Holiday Spirit

Phoebe Gets Into the Holiday Spirit

Cookies, cookies, and yes more cookies!  Phoebe got into the holiday spirit by celebrating with a holiday cookie contest offered to Phoebe Terrace residents and staff.

According to interim director of dining, Mike Vargo, “the contest gives our residents and staff the opportunity to showcase their culinary skills, and share their treasured family recipes with their friends at Phoebe.”

First, second and third place winners were selected based on creativity, presentation and most of all… taste!

Phoebe resident Jean Iobst, grand prize winner, created the peanut butter temptations!  Jean has enjoyed participating in many Cura and Phoebe inspired events including last year’s Phoebe’s pie contest where she earned second place for her peachy cream cheese pie!

Cura staff also created their tasty treats (not included in the competition!) but for all to enjoy!   Dennis Rivera, Cura sous chef, impressed us all with his pistachio chocolate biscotti, gingerbread iced cookies and macaroons!

Welcome Ryan McNulty, Corporate Executive Chef

Welcome Ryan McNulty, Corporate Executive Chef

Cura recently announced the exciting addition of Ryan McNulty as Cura’s Corporate Executive Chef, a newly created position that will strengthen Cura’s commitment to enhancing life around great food.

A certified executive chef, Ryan will lead Cura’s corporate culinary initiatives, including the research, development and implementation of trend-setting senior dining, nutritious patient programming, and healthy and well-focused food concepts.

Ryan will also focus on elevating Cura’s gold standards and operating procedures to ensure high quality, consistency and service levels throughout the organization.

With more than 20 years of executive level culinary expertise, Ryan has served both the commercial and non-commercial food service industries.  His combined skill set in operating everything from fine dining, retail and multi onsite locations, will provide the inspiration to create memorable dining experiences that cater to older adults, their families and guests.

Ryan graduated magna cum laude from Johnson & Wales University where he holds a bachelor of science degree in culinary arts and management. A former culinary instructor at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA, Ryan is also a member of FoodService Director Magazine’s advisory council, a culinary board member of Luzerne County Community College and has made several chef demonstration appearances on cable television networks.

When he’s not in the “kitchen”, Ryan enjoys participating in community activities, hiking, camping, kayaking, traveling and…cooking, of course.  Ryan resides in Bethlehem, PA, with his family and dog Winston!

Menno Haven Rehabilitation Center Dedication

Menno Haven Rehabilitation Center Dedication

As their foodservice partner, Cura was proud to celebrate the dedication of Menno Haven’s new state-of-the-art rehabilitation center which is in phase one of five in their Project Genesis

Unlike any in the region, this short-stay rehabilitation center in Mechanicsburg, PA, aids in the recovery of individuals that experience illness after surgery or other trauma.  Patients will be able to transition to their care in a setting designed to suit their therapeutic needs and usher them back to their homes, with restored health and mobility.

As part of celebration, we also dedicated Cura’s new 21st-century culinary center which is located within the rehabilitation center and is the new central kitchen for all of Menno Haven.  The culinary center is 4,800 square feet and will allow us to increase dining options and food quality by offering more fresh produce/ingredients and implementing large-volume scale sous vide technology.

Bakery production will also be centralized in this new center and all retail items will be prepared and packaged here for all five of the community’s cafés and bistro.  Food will be transported daily within the Menno Haven community via a refrigerated truck so each finishing kitchen can complete the food preparation and plating as close as possible to the service to our guests.

An open kitchen concept within the rehabilitation center also allows guest to interact with culinary team members and experience the menu items as they are prepared. The menu will change on a weekly basis and will feature seasonal fruits and vegetables from local Chambersburg farms which will maximize their nutritional values. Guests will have a choice of dining in the café or room service.

According to Jeremy Fry, general manager of senior services for Cura at Menno Haven, “The focus on the dining space in the new building is around fresh, healthy, and made to order menu items.”

The rehabilitation center was also bestowed the “Environments for Aging Design Showcase Award” from the Environments for Aging, a national trade publication in the senior living industry.

New Partnerships: Lutheran SeniorLife

New Partnerships: Lutheran SeniorLife

We are excited to announce that our Cura brand continues to grow through a new partnership with Lutheran SeniorLife(“LSL”).  LSL provides the opportunity to older adults to live an Abundant Life® at their communities through retirement living options promoting health and wellness throughout western Pennsylvania.

After a competitive review, LSL chose to engage our team to work alongside them to further enhance their Abundant Life values, respecting each individual and seeking to enhance her or his life experience through life-lifting nourishment and highly personalized services.

As LSL shared with us, other key factors in their decision to choose us as their partner include our:

  • Willingness to operate with complete financial transparency;
  • Significant local presence and resource base;
  • Strong client references from peers whom they know and respect;
  • Focus on fresh, locally sourced and wholesomely prepared foods
  • Commitment to build LSL’s brand and innovate their dining services for all their stakeholders;
  • Expertise with Micro-Markets and Meals on Wheels programs through our access to the Elior North America family of companies.

Good luck to the Cura team that began providing dining services on November 1stat seven LSL client locations on three expansive campuses including Passavant Campus, Zelienople, PA; St. John Campus, Mars, PA; and The Commons at Stonebrook, McCandless Township, PA.