The goal of the program is to create personal connections that build a sense of home.
Every Menu Has a Story was piloted at Wellmore of Tega Cay, a Senior Living Communities property in Tega Cay, S.C., in February 2016 and then expanded to SLC’s other nine retirement communities.
The stories are solicited from residents at the beginning of each month through a prompt that includes sample stories from the facility’s director of dining services and executive chef.
One of the first Every Menu Has a Story events highlighted the life of Helen Kapikian, a resident at Wellmore at Tega Cay.
SLC Chef Alexander Feldman designed a menu that celebrated Helen’s life and her Armenian roots using details from her story as the basis for each course.
The first course of the Every Menu Has a Story dinner celebrating Helen was a “roots in two worlds” chowder that blended Helen’s Armenian roots with her upbringing in Massachusetts by making a traditional Massachusetts dish using a seafood ingredient originating in Lake Sevan in eastern Armenia: crawfish. It also had fingerling potato, bacon, onion and celery in a creamy broth.
The second course, called picnic in the park, celebrated the beginning of Helen’s relationship with her future husband Mark at a picnic and included ethnic delights like keufta (poached meatball stuffed with sweet onion, spices and ground beef), tourshi (pickled vegetables) and traditional Armenian hummus, served in a bread bowl with lavash bread.
Helen’s wedding was evoked with a “wedding in Cambridge” course meant to capture the feel of an Armenian wedding. Pictured is one of the entrée choices, lamb kabobs with couscous with crimson lentils and a red and green cabbage chiffonade dressed in a light lemon vinegrette.
An alternative “wedding in Cambridge” entrée was seared trout served with squash, chickpea and tomato ragout and tabbouleh.
The dessert course celebrating Helen’s life included cognac in a chocolate cup (a non-alcoholic option also available) and knafi, a phyllo dough basket with creamy custard filling topped with raspberries and walnuts.