Located two miles from historic downtown Mystic, Connecticut, StoneRidge senior living community offers residents the opportunity to choose the lifestyle that is right for them. A large part of this choice is their innovative, flexible dining program.
For starters, each StoneRidge resident has a monthly dining allocation that allows them to eat what they want and when they want it, at any of the community’s six dining venues – including the ability to order take-out!
StoneRidge Executive Chef Robert Tripp has been a chef for 41 years, and he says serving residents at StoneRidge is the most satisfying job he’s ever had. “My favorite part of being a chef at StoneRidge is seeing the joy and satisfaction we give to the residents. Food is by far the most important thing to our residents. When we come through and deliver and exceed their expectations, that is the most gratifying thing we can do.”
Fresh and Nutritious
Since StoneRidge serves a range of residents with unique and individual preferences and dietary needs, making sure everyone’s nutritional needs are met with each meal is of utmost importance. Tripp works with StoneRidge nutritionist Lindsey Demato to ensure a wide variety of food choices are offered on each menu at each meal. Whether it’s diverticulitis, gluten intolerance, high cholesterol, heart conditions, or other medical diagnoses, Tripp, Demato and their team make sure each resident has a wide variety of fresh, healthy, tasty foods from which to choose.
Tripp focuses on low-sodium meals that include fresh lean meats and seafood, fresh vegetables and fruits, and other seasonal ingredients. He said residents’ favorites include local baby greens and beans from nearby Aiki Farms and Russo’s Roots farm.
Tripp explained, “Aiki Farms is certified organic and bio-intensive. Bob Burns, the owner, uses old-fashioned remedies, such as manure tea, to feed the crops. So there are no prepared fertilizers. He picks the produce fresh in the morning and brings it to us.” On any given day, StoneRidge receives sprouted Adzuki beans, garbanzo beans, sunflower sprouts, popcorn shoots, Mesclun, and edible marigold petals. These are featured on the salad bar, which is available every day at lunch and dinner.
From Russo’s Roots, just down the road in Canterbury, StoneRidge purchases baby arugula, baby spinach, and mixed baby lettuce, among other produce. Locally-grown Seacoast mushrooms are used in the signature Madeira Mushroom Crepe appetizer. A homemade salad dressing showcases local honey from the farmer’s market.
Local and Delicious
Tripp also features fresh scallops from StoneRidge resident Bill Bomster’s family business, Stonington Seafood Harvesters. “I bought seafood from Bill way back before he ever became a resident of StoneRidge. His sons now own the business, and we continue to purchase from them because all of the seafood is naturally harvested, nothing artificial at all. It’s delicious.”
Tripp said seafood is a big favorite among residents. “We recently offered a fresh swordfish special, and residents told us it was the best swordfish they’ve ever had. In fact, they tell me often that the meal they just ate was ‘the best meal they’ve had ever, anywhere.’”
“Residents also rave about our soups,” shared Tripp, whose team makes their chicken and beef stocks from scratch. “It’s identical to what they were raised eating, so they feel right at home.”
And if offering these scrumptious, farm-to-table options weren’t enough to differentiate StoneRidge dining from other senior living communities, Tripp and his team will custom-prepare almost any of the menu items at a resident’s request. “If we offer fresh spinach on the salad bar, but someone would like theirs wilted or steamed, we will do that. We try to accommodate residents as much as we can.” Tripp and his chefs mingle with the seniors in each of the StoneRidge dining rooms on a regular basis so they can get to know the residents and their preferences. This helps Tripp and his team build menus the residents at StoneRidge are sure to enjoy.
Special Events and Guest Dining
Residents can learn about the food they eat and the dining team who serves them by attending fun and educational events such as the chef’s five-course tasting and wine-pairing. “Residents love these sessions. We promote them in our Monthly Buzz newsletter, and they sign up right away! They like to know where their food comes from, how it’s prepared… it helps them take ownership of their food choices and, in the end, their health.”
Family and friends love to dine at StoneRidge, too. Each resident is allowed to invite whomever they want, whenever they want, and simply pay with their dining allocation. Recently, Tripp offered a chef-prepared dining experience for whichever resident got the most people from outside the community to come in and dine with them. “One of our ladies brought in five friends and we prepared a four-course lunch for all of them.”
In addition to daily meals, of which 400-450 total are served, the dining team prepares catered meals for residents’ birthday and anniversary celebrations as well as larger groups for the holidays. Last year, Tripp and his dining team set a StoneRidge record, serving 288 residents and guests for Easter brunch. This year they broke that record, serving 301.
“I’m very fortunate to have a great team here. I’m always trying to educate them and build their skills. I always challenge them… never let them become complacent.” The end result is happy, healthy residents who keep coming back for more.