Kendal’s Culinary Team Serves Fantastic Food

Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness…Auguste Escoffier.

This saying holds true for residents at Kendal at Lexington.  Whether it’s a special theme dinner, a retro favorite like tuna noodle casserole or our signature crab cakes, the culinary staff continues to please resident’s palates.

Serving hundreds of meals every day can be a challenge. Add the sudden changes of COVID protocols and you would expect it to be even more daunting. After a year of working around the pandemic, remodeling projects, and dining room closures, the kudos for excellent food continue from the residents.

Many residents appreciate not having to cook for themselves all the time and look forward to joining friends to dine together in the Anderson Dining Room. However, in late March of 2020, that option went to an abrupt pause with the switch to meal delivery due to COVID-19. Within three days meal ordering and delivery was in place, thanks to assistance from the maintenance staff who stepped up as drivers to help deliver the meals to the residents and other departments that all worked together.

The residents and culinary staff stayed in close touch through daily communications, surveys, comment cards, and the resident’s council. Even with some hiccups in the supply chain due to trucking issues, Executive Chef Mark Chittum, Chef JJ, Culinary Director Judy Kurtz, and a staff of 45 kept the menus varied and balanced.

dining room with tables

Focusing on Variety and Quality

One goal of the culinary department is to source as much local produce as possible. Especially in season, apples, plums, peaches, and honey are sourced from local farmers. Pre-COVID, fresh seafood was brought in from Baltimore. Local ice cream is also a favorite.

Chef JJ says that many Kendal residents are avid gardeners and often share fresh herbs with the kitchen.

Other than some desserts, all meals are made from scratch, another reason Kendal residents rave about the food. Soups and sauces are gluten-free, and the kitchen keeps up with many other dietary needs and restrictions when necessary.

Providing three meals each day to those in the skilled and assisted living areas was already part of the normal routine. So was serving independent living residents in the dining . Switching to meal delivery for the independent living residents shifted the focus to a mid-day delivery of one meal per person.  However, with soup, salad, entrée, sides, and a dessert, most managed to enjoy both lunch and dinner with one delivery, according to Judy.

Serving Residents Based on Feedback

A monthly meeting with staff and resident council members is one way the dining program continues to serve happy Kendal residents. More than anything, the kitchen relies on input from the residents. Comment cards are the direct channel to letting the kitchen know what is a thumbs up or down, however, it is only signed comment cards that get action, according to Judy.

Service in New Dining Room to Start in April

As restrictions ease with access to vaccinations, reopening the Anderson dining room is planned to start in April, while the culinary team keeps up their regular service to the Borden and Webster Centers. Residents are excited to come together as friends to share a delicious meal in our newly renovated dining room, patio and verandah deck. For a peek into the beautiful, expanded dining room visit

Whether it’s in person or to their door, keeping residents happy with tasty cuisine is a rewarding experience for Chef JJ. “I’ve been in the restaurant industry all my life. Working here is rewarding, you know your clientele, they are not random strangers like you’d see in a restaurant. We have a lot of very appreciative residents, that’s what makes it worth it. For a 3D tour of the new dining room click here .