Inside Athena: Sheriden Woods Dining Director Sharing His Knowledge Throughout Conn.

Inside Athena: Sheriden Woods Dining Director Sharing His Knowledge Throughout Conn.

BRISTOL, C.T. – Kevin Dydyn joined the Athena and Sheriden Woods Health Care Center family eight years ago.

Dydyn making a nacho bar for a Super Bowl 2023 celebration.

Now serving as a Regional Food Service Director, he helps Athena’s managed centers throughout Connecticut provide essential food service to our residents as well as remain up to code, correctly document temperature and other logs, maintain cleanliness, and more.

When he joined Sheriden Woods as Chef Manager shortly after he was promoted to the director of the dining department at the Bristol center and still is. He took on his current role three years ago and credits much of his success to Urata Prevalla, Regional Dining Services Manager for Connecticut.

“I like to see [other dining directors] grow because we’ve all been there,” he said. “Everyone I learned from within the company with my training with Urata and my previous food service director, I really like helping other people get to where I am.”

He said having a “second eye is always good” when referring to supporting other centers in the state.

His passion for the kitchen took him to culinary school, including a study abroad in Italy. Upon his return, he spent some time in restaurants but was ready for a change.

“I thought, with me being creative, I could bring some of these menu items in restaurants into nursing homes and elevate the food,” Dydyn said.

Not only does Dydyn want the meals to taste well, he wants them to look as good as they taste noting you “eat with your eyes first.”

Dydyn and the team have to make sure residents are getting meals specific to their personal preferences and/or medical needs. For example, a resident may need their food pureed to help with eating and swallowing.

Dydyn selling burgers and hot dogs for a Taking Care of Our Own raffle.

“For people with food allergies, we definitely watch what we use for ingredients and our Dietary Aides are trained to read the tickets and make sure they’re not giving people with allergies certain food items,” he said.

Regardless of what they have to do to the food, he ensures the flavors remain the same.

He enjoys learning about what residents want to see more of and what kinds of foods may be meaningful to them.

“Everyone likes food,” he said. “I like to get some of their ideas from some of the foods they were eating when they were younger. With my ideas, I kind of put them together.”

Dydyn enjoys connecting with the residents at the center and hearing about their life stories, and their likes and dislikes. The Sheriden Woods team will also take their cooking outside of the facility to help the Bristol Senior Center with different events they host.

The kitchen is also often used for staff. Whether it’s a baked potato bar, a spread of nachos, or any other kind of way to show appreciation, Dydyn said he enjoys feeding his co-workers.

“I like to keep the staff morale good. Who doesn’t like food?” he said. “You see a lot of longevity of staff here. When I see longevity in buildings, I believe it’s a good building and people want to work there and people like to work here.”

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February 15, 2024 A Healthier Approach To Caring, Inside Athena