Monday, May 25, 2015

Fabulous French Bistro: What goes into a theme meal?

My partner and I decided to create a Fabulous French Bistro themed meal for the residents of Riderwood.  In the weeks prior to the event, we researched delicious recipes.  However, we quickly learned how much more goes into a large event. 

Customer Service:

During our foodservice rotation, dietetic interns learn how important customer service is.  The Riderwood halls are filled with friendly and outstanding residents and staff.  We spent many days talking with individuals to gain insight before our theme meal.  We also did “table touches” during lunch to verbally invite everyone to our event.  No matter the situation, it’s important to keep your mindset customer focused.  They will pick up on this and appreciate the efforts you’re making. 


While creating our marketing tools for our theme meal, we were able to implement many ideas we learned through our internship technology days.  My partner and I worked with a website called Piktochart.  We were able to make posters, table tents, and handouts for residents.  One marketing technique we used was consistent themes throughout.  For example, we wore the same outfits in our commercial, as we did on the theme meal.  We received compliments on this because it allowed for mental triggers and reminders. 


Preparation for our event started from day one when we gathered all of our recipes.  After this, we sat with our chef and discussed the ordering process of the ingredients.  We worked hard to create taste tests for all of our recipes prior to ordering.  The restaurant staff used their skills to help us better our cooking techniques.  We couldn’t have done it without them!  In order to stay organized, we created handouts for the layout of the theme meal and the schedule of production. 

The night before our event we spent the evening decorating the restaurant.  We wanted our customers to really feel the part of a French Bistro from the minute they walked in the door.  We were able to stay within budget but still produce a great setup. 

Event Day:

The day was finally here!  My partner and I showed up early in the morning to begin cooking.  We quickly got to work; chopping, prepping, marinating, etc.  However, we ran into a small setback; the gas was shut off and the ovens were not working properly.  We helped each other stay calm and contacted our preceptor.  Within an hour, we received maintenance help and the ovens were up and running.  We were able to understand the challenges faced on a daily basis in a food service operation.  With the help of our team we were able to promptly finish cooking.  The residents had a great time!  We had raffle prizes for a few lucky winners.  The favorite dish was definitely our Sea Bass! 

Additional Projects:

Throughout our rotation at Riderwood, we learned so many aspects of foodservice.  We produced two SWOT analyses.  A SWOT analysis looks at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a specific situation.  This is a great tool for improvements later on.  In addition, we had two financial projects.  We gathered the costs of all of our recipes to better understand if we made a profit.  We also provided the costs of new menu items at the restaurant.  I’m so thankful for the opportunities I had.  I know I will take all I’ve learned with me on my journey as a Registered Dietitian. 


A huge part of my success at Riderwood was teamwork.  My partner and I worked well together.  This included supporting each other during stressful situations, taking the lead when needed, and taking risks together.  We also worked as a team with the entire kitchen staff.  They were always willing to share their expertise with us.  Producing a theme meal for 100+ individuals can seem like a daunting task.  However, establishing relationships with your team can take it from just a vision to a successful reality.   Thank you Riderwood staff!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Getting the D.C. city working experience at IFIC!

My partner, Ashley, and I were able to travel all around D.C. during our rotation at the International Food and Information Council (IFIC). Our first day started out at the National Academy Building for a public workshop discussing obesity solutions. This was an awesome experience, as it allowed us to learn about community organizations that promoted physical activity initiatives.  

During my second day at IFIC, I was able to attend the “Communicating Science in a Networked World” conference at the National Press Club, which explained the importance of relaying science information to the general public. Ashley and I were also lucky enough to attend a lunch held by the Frozen Food Foundation, where we learned about the benefits of frozen fruits and vegetables. (We enjoyed our lunch so much we even wrote a blog about it that made it on the IFIC website)

While Ashley and I were able to attend awesome meetings, conferences and lunches around D.C, we were also able to work on our writing and blogging skills in the IFIC office. Ashley created a blog about the safety of food colorings which made it to the IFIC website on April 28th and I created a blog about women’s health through the decades which made it on the website shortly after!

Ashley's post:

My post:

Our rotation at IFIC gave us the opportunity to make connections with food companies and foundations in the D.C. area as well as all around the world! Ashley and I were also able to make a connection with a dietetic intern from the Morrison Chartwells program! Our time at IFIC allowed us to network, gain communication and blogging skills as well as meet a new friend!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Right away, Chef!

Right away, Chef.

This phrase is something I have heard consistently throughout my time at UMD dining services and now at my final (yes, final!) rotation at Riderwood Village. Megan and I have been channeling our inner ‘Chef de Cuisine’ as we develop menus, search recipes, and learn the inner workings of a commercial kitchen.

Both Megan and I have a passion for cooking and all things delicious, so when we found out our last two rotations of the internship would allows us to cut, chop, and slice our way to the end we couldn’t be more excited. Our first week at Riderwood was a little unconventional because our fellow classmates were also here and we were helping (trying to) execute and assist with their theme meal, Fabulous French Bistro, YUM! This first week was especially important because we had the opportunity to see how the event would run and make mental notes of things we liked and areas where we could improve, although it was pretty perfect!

When researching and brainstorming ideas about a potential theme meal, we were looking for something with not only a tasty food selection, but also a theme that could provide great history and atmosphere for the guests. We wanted our theme meal to have a strong cultural background and give a different dining experience than a traditional dining room setting. While brainstorming, Cinco de Mayo was right around the corner and our senses were engulfed in Spanish foods, from sight to smell. Our love for variety and trying an assortment of foods led us to a Spanish Tapas theme meal.

Megan and I should be named the Dynamic Duo because with her keen eye for developing beautiful infographics (she has taught me so much!) and my organizational and writing skills we have come up with some great ideas and are looking forward to wowing the residents.

As much as you can plan, if you can’t cook or aren’t familiar with the kitchen now is the time to start. My time spent in the kitchen has been incredible, the hours fly by and I have already developed great relationships with the staff, welcoming me as their own. I am so impressed by the beautiful knife skills and consistency of products produced. Working the dinner service is both exhilarating, stressful, and has taught me the importance of teamwork and good communication.

I am so excited for our theme meal in just a few more weeks and experience the true Spanish culture!

Happy, healthy eating,

Anastasia Maczko

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Traits of a Dietetic Intern

            My Dietetic Internship experience is coming to a close. After spending some time reflecting on the past 10 months I created a list of traits that I found conducive to my success in this program. Every intern's journey is different so these attributes may not be exactly the same for you, but hopefully they will still provide insight that can help you succeed during your journey.

Motivated: You will experience 13 different rotations during this program. You will work full time, you will have outside homework and projects. You will spend a lot of money on things you do not necessarily want to spend money on, and you will not be paid a dime.  With no tangible reward (yet) it has been challenging at times to motivate myself.  Have I been happy and excited for every rotation, event, and class day? No. Staying positive and reminding myself of the big picture has been the internal motivation I have used to push me through and CRUCIAL to my success.

Also, even though it may not always seem like it, everything you do in this program (even the hundred PES statements you will complete) has a purpose.

Autonomous: I did my best throughout the program to accomplish things on my own without contacting Phyllis (our director) for help. While sometimes it is necessary to contact Phyllis, and she makes it clear from the start that she is just a phone call away, I told myself from the beginning that I wanted to handle stress and difficulty in my rotations on my own. For my own ‘self psyche’--this was really important. I do not like to be micro-managed and I wanted Phyllis to view me as capable and independent from the very start.

With that said, there ARE situations in this internship where you will need to contact Phyllis for help. I was lucky that I did not experience a situation like this but there are interns who did and it was intelligent for them in these cases to ask for her help. Use your own discretion!

Upbeat:  Although I don’t always feel positive or happy on the inside, I always try to exude a positive attitude on the outside. This helps me for two reasons. For starters, it actually changes how I feel on the inside—it makes me feel more positive and happy. It also rubs off on other people. Acting positive and treating others with kindness makes people want to be around you. You have so many opportunities to network in this program, show people the positivity that you want to bring to this world through our profession.

Flexible: Sometimes things in the program will not go as planned. My site rotation for my clinical experience changed 5 days before I started the rotation. While you will get a set schedule at the beginning of the program, tell yourself ahead of time that things can and probably will change at different points in the program. Just roll with the flow because there isn’t any point in getting worked up over something you can’t change.

Team-Player: You are with a partner a very long period of time during this program. You write and sign e-mails together, schedule meetings together, work on projects together etc. You must be in constant communication with your partner to coordinate your week-to-week schedule. You are not always going to agree with your partner and because you’re both human you’re going to get annoyed with each other. Treat your partner with respect no matter what the situation. If you don’t agree with something, talk it out and come to a compromise. You don’t have to be friends, but it is beneficial for you to stay professional and level-headed at all times. This way you are putting your best foot forward in every rotation and your preceptors will see you as someone who works well on a team.  

Creative: Find situations to let your creativity shine through. Have a crazy idea for your theme meal? Roll with it and work with the right people to try and make it come to life. It’s an amazing feeling to see something that was just an image in your brain substantiate into a real-life thing. I am not telling you to break the rules; but for me using my imagination, taking risks, and doing things a little bit differently than interns in the past was extremely rewarding.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Is It Lunch Time Yet?

As the internship is winding down, my partner, Colleen, and I are finishing up with one to two week community rotations. We spent this last week at OSSE (Office of the State Superintendent of Education) learning about school lunches in DC schools. In college I had learned a lot about the Healthy Schools Act of 2010, but never understood it completely. At OSSE we had the opportunity to meet with those at the front lines of this act and even visit schools that are doing well with nutrition and physical education. 
Apples to be served for lunch!

What is the Healthy Schools Act?
The Healthy Schools Act was created to establish nutritional standards for school meals, fundraisers, vending, marketing, and prizes to improve health and wellness for students and decrease hunger. It also encourages schools to participate in as many federal programs as possible and enhance the nutrition of meals served. 

Salad Bar at an Elementary School

Our week at OSSE
Day One:
Colleen and I arrived and met with members of the OSSE team to gain an understanding of everyone's role. The men and women at OSSE all play an essential role of implementing the Healthy Schools Act and monitoring schools compliance. Later on we visited one of the local schools to see how they carry out lunch. At this particular school, kindergarteners ate family style with food served on platters to tables. It was so interesting to see the students eat their sweet potatoes and grilled cheese like a little family!

The Sweet Potatoes about to be served for Lunch!

Day Two:
We met with two women who help with school's meal compliance and sustainability. We learned a lot about recycling and composting, and how students are helping schools "go green." In the afternoon we read over school wellness policies to see how they can improve to meet the Healthy Schools Act requirements.

Day Three:
This was one of my favorite learning experiences! We met at Revolution Foods, a school food service company, and toured the facility and learned about the healthy foods this company provides to schools in DC. We received samples of some of the foods served for snacks, and helped out by packing food trays for distribution. In the afternoon we visited an elementary school and assisted cafeteria staff in serving hot meals and salad. We interacted with the kids to gain an understanding of their thoughts and feelings about the meals.

Me helping serve salad to kindergarteners

Overall, this was definitely one of my favorite experiences. We were able to learn from the inside out how nutrition is being utilized in schools. sIt really is beneficial to get out in the field and see how nutrition is affecting the next generation!