DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (July 2020) – The culinary team at Pine Run Retirement Community is used to bringing people together over meals. When the coronavirus pandemic suddenly changed their usual dining options, they shifted gears to find new and creative ways for residents to come together and break bread, virtually.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Chef Doug Runyen, executive chef of Flik Hospitality at Pine Run, and the culinary team have been striving to do at least one thing each week to keep meals exciting for Villagers. From fresh catch stations to root beer floats, to strawberry shortcake, the culinary team has maintained their focus on customers to improve the guest experience.
Inspiration struck during a routine Zoom meeting with other Flik managers from across the region when one chef from Virginia spoke about presenting a live cooking show. Runyen thought it was a brilliant idea and immediately began preparations to host a live cooking show at Pine Run. The first show centered around a meal that holds a special place in Runyen’s heart: a Mexican surf and turf custom creation inspired by his former Conshohocken restaurant menu.
“I wanted the first cooking class to be something approachable for Villagers, yet feel very special,” Runyen said. “The preparations were straightforward and easy to follow, and the real fun of the meal is in the garnish.”
Villagers are able to sign up in advance for kits that feed one or two people. All of the ingredients needed for each class are organized into kits and hand-delivered to Villagers’ doorsteps 45 minutes before the cooking show airs. Villagers do not have to worry about running out to the store or figure out what to do with leftover ingredients – everything is delivered fresh and portioned perfectly.
“We think the cooking shows are terrific, everything is delivered in little containers just for us. We are really enjoying the shows” shares Pine Run Villager Joanne Pinto. “It’s like your very own private cooking show. Chef Doug does a great job of explaining everything step by step. The instructions are easy to follow and you can put in what you want and leave out something that doesn’t agree with you.”
Runyen and his team pre-record the show and it airs on the internal Pine Run television channel starting at 5 p.m. on a continuous loop that evening and throughout the weekend, so Villagers can prep their meal according to their own schedule.
“I’m really blown away by how well everyone has been doing,” said Runyen. “I’ve been impressed with the quality of photos they are sending in. Some Villagers are even staging photos with wine glasses and fine china.”
Now entering the green-phase, Villagers are enjoying small gatherings for the first time since the pandemic began. For the July cooking program, Joanne and John Pinto hosted guests. “We set a formal table, with a tablecloth, plate chargers, and cloth napkins” shared Joanne. “It was very formal but very easy.”
The first show, which aired in early June, featured the surf and turf creation inspired by Mexican cuisine. The second show followed soon after and featured a classic Italian theme of Shrimp Puttanesca and Chicken Saltimbocca. As the team transitions to a monthly schedule, the July show featured another Runyen original, Pan-Seared Scallop and Summer Salad.
“It’s clear to see the pride Chef Doug takes in his work. As a Culinary Institute of America graduate with four decades of experience, he shares exceptional skill and knowledge with the Pine Run Community each day,” said Maria Santangelo, Executive Director of Pine Run. “Our culinary team has been very creative in delivering excellent dining experiences during the pandemic. They are a true embodiment of Pine Run’s service philosophy to make Villagers’ days easier and brighter.”
Food has a way of filling more than just our stomachs; it also feeds our souls. Even if it’s just for an hour, Runyen and his team are inspiring Villagers like the Pintos to create and enjoy a wonderful meal.
About Pine Run: Pine Run Retirement Community in Doylestown, Pennsylvania is one of Bucks County’s leading senior living and senior care providers, with 272 independent living cottages and 24 apartments situated on a beautiful 43-acre private campus. The campus is home to Pine Run Health Center, which offers rehabilitation services and 90 skilled nursing beds; The Garden, a 40-bed, secure dementia neighborhood on the top floor of the Health Center; and The Willows, an intimate setting for end-of-life care, including palliative, comfort, and hospice services. Pine Run Lakeview is a 107-bed personal care residence owned and operated by Pine Run Retirement Community and located on Lower State Road in Doylestown. Generations of families have turned to Pine Run for the certainty of comforts and services in the bonus years. Call 800.992.8992 to learn more about independent living, personal care, or skilled nursing and rehabilitation programs or visit www.pinerun.org.