Residents of The Willows at Worcester have been enjoying specially-themed meals at the community’s Cascades restaurant this past year. Director of Dining Services, Silvia Ibanez, describes the inspiration and planning process behind the events.
Ibanez started her career with SALMON Health and Retirement twelve years ago, originally as Director of Housekeeping for The Willows at Worcester. In addition, she consistently planned and organized staff and Resident events. Prior to working with SALMON, Ibanez owned her own bakery, describing her fondness for making pastries and desserts. Two years ago, she transitioned into her current role and loves it. “I like to see the Residents happy,” Ibanez says.
The weekly themed dining events began as soon as the Department of Public Health allowed communal dining to resume in independent living communities. Ibanez explains, “it was such a great opportunity to introduce an element of fun that the Residents really enjoy.”
Ibanez determines the themes, and the dining staff ensures that everything in Cascades matches. “There’s a lot of thought and detail that goes into themed meals,” says Ibanez. “Everything from the napkins and tablecloths to small changes on the waitstaff uniforms.”
“I do it all to bring smiles to the Residents’ faces,” Ibanez explains.
Themes have ranged from celebrating food from different countries, recently including Poland and Greece, to “Pirate Night” and a seasonally appropriate “Spring Fling.” Some of Ibanez’s favorite themes include the Titanic, Dinosaur Night, and the annual Christmas event. Ibanez even replicated the original 1912 first-class dinner menu from the Titanic. She exclaims, “Residents absolutely love the themed nights; they make the week fun and different. Some Residents even dress up to match the theme!”
Director of Culinary Services for all eight SALMON communities, Jason Wallin, is very impressed with Ibanez and her team’s creativity and dedication to bringing The Willows at Worcester Residents the best dining experience. “Their effort is amazing,” he says.
When asked what makes Cascades such a special place, Ibanez responds, “We work as a team with one goal; everything we do is for the Residents.”