Part of what makes Ardenwoods unique is its flexible and innovative dining program. Ardenwoods’ diverse menus use produce from local farmers, and “from scratch meals” dining options are a vital part of the community’s HealthyLife® Services commitment to meet the health and wellness needs of residents. Ardenwoods senior living community in Arden, North Carolina, is a place where residents can have freedom, independence, and the ability to choose the lifestyle that’s right for them. Located just 15 minutes from the quaint towns of Asheville and Hendersonville, with sweeping views of western North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains, Ardenwoods offers resort-style senior living where aging adults can feel safe and secure while enjoying a dynamic and active lifestyle.
Fresh and Nutritious
Ardenwoods allows residents to age in place by providing both independent living and assisted living residences. When a senior first comes to live at Ardenwoods, a nutritionist meets with them to discuss their personal preferences as well as any dietary restrictions or special needs.
Ardenwoods’ Food and Beverage Director Bill McBee explained, “There is continued personal interaction with our residents throughout their stay with us. Their dietary needs and allergies are posted in our kitchen for all staff to see and be aware of.”
Residents help provide some of the herbs and greens for the kitchen by maintaining gardens in both the independent living and assisted living locations.
“The independent living garden has some raised beds and in-ground gardens,” said Bill.
“Last year our garden committee planted a culinary garden for the entire community with all kinds of herbs, fresh lettuces, kale, chives, and edible flowers. We use all of those in our sauces, desserts and for garnishing. One resident recently gave us five pounds of baby lettuces from one of the gardens, and we put it on the salad bar.”
Any produce not grown at the community gardens is brought in from the local North Carolina Farmer’s Market. “Right now we have local peaches, blueberries, squash, and watermelon,” shared Bill. “We also source our beef and pork about 20 minutes away from Hickory Nut Gap Farm. We’ll order special items from them and promote in our newsletter to create excitement. We even had a catered event where we showcased some of their bratwurst and country ham.”
It’s All About Choice
The dining team at Ardenwoods serves about 200 meals a day to residents in both independent living and assisted living as well as employees. And all of the food is made from scratch. “We even have an in-house pastry chef who prepares home-made desserts,” added Bill.
Ardenwoods resident Food and Beverage Committee consists of a several resident ambassadors who meet regularly with other residents and provide feedback to Bill and his team. “This is how we implement new ideas. We do a lot of one-on-one conversations, making notes about likes, dislikes and favorites, so we can try to accommodate everyone when designing the menus.”
Menus change daily at both the independent living and assisted living dining venues. Each day’s menu has an influence – like Italian night. For example, a couple of times a week residents will get to try a new recipe, which Bill puts in the community newsletter ahead of time, describing the dish and defining any unusual terms or providing a background about where it came from.
Residents at Ardenwoods are from all around the country, and tend to like traditional American comfort foods, said Bill. “Our residents really like braised meats, classics like Beef Stroganoff, Hungarian Goulash, Chicken Poppercosh, meatloaf, and fried chicken. But we also have them tell us their favorite dishes and we work those into the menu. I will tell them about two weeks before it appears, and residents are very appreciative when they make their item. They feel validated.”
There is also a salad bar every night as well as vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Bill shared, “We also offer a ‘healthiest choice’ meal each day that includes the healthiest starch, vegetable, and protein. It is designated on the menu so residents can find it easily.”
Every week, Ardenwoods hosts three to four special dining events. The culinary team works closely with the activities department to create themes, decorations, music, and a menu for each event, including holidays.
Bill highlighted a Western-themed dinner that took place a few months ago. “We had a country-western band, line dancing, and a plated menu that included braised pork bellies, beef brisket, and Texas-style BBQ. The activities department brought in cowboy hats and red bandanas, and decorated the dining room with checkerboard tablecloths.”
Every other month Ardenwoods holds a Chef’s Table. This is an educational event that usually includes a wine pairing and tasting. It is by reservation only and is limited to 40 people. “This takes place in our private dining room and follows a theme chosen by the Food and Beverage Committee,” shared Bill. “The next one is Paris-themed, and they asked that we do some of Julia Child’s recipes.”
The Ardenwoods Difference
Bill’s favorite part about serving Ardenwoods’ residents is creating the menus.
“Writing menus for this group is challenging, but fun. We’re a smaller community. We get to take the time to create customized meals.”
“I tell my team that we are serving the same group every night, year ‘round, so we need to make it exciting so they don’t get bored. Change things up, but make what they like. We all listen to what residents say, and take notes.
“We are personal chefs, not just cooks.”
Ardenwoods is the ideal setting for senior living. But don’t just take our word for it, check out what the residents have to say. To find out how Ardenwoods senior living community can serve you, get in touch with us at 828-684-7330 or fill out a contact form.