Inside Athena: Newtown Rehab’s Person Behind the Plate
NEWTOWN, C.T. — What started as an after-school job in high school turned into a life-long career in food service for Robert Michael, who is now the Director of Dining Services at Newtown Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Fairfield County, Connecticut.
Michael started working at the Newtown center at 16 years old as a dietary aide.
“I love being here for the residents,” he said.
Over the years, he has had successful growth working as a Chef and Chef Manager. In April 2020, he was promoted to the Director of Dining Services.
“I’m a people person and always enjoyed cooking for others and serving our residents,” he said.
Michael said he has worked with catering companies and restaurants, but always felt it was the right fit at Newtown Rehab.
“I enjoy the structure of the job and providing the best food we can for our residents,” he said.
The residents know and love Michael and he also knows them very well. He knows their preferences and their favorite recipes and anticipates what they may want. Michael explains he tries to feature food dishes from many cultures to offer a variety to his residents. For example, he will cook Eastern European dishes, Hispanic foods, American comfort foods, and other varieties “to give everyone a chance to be represented.”
He said the menus are resident-based menus and he will talk with the residents about what they want to see offered, he will take requests, and develop menus to fit their wants and needs.
Michael said his team is comprised of a group of “hardworking and dedicated staff” and he leads by example by orienting newer employees that passion and dedication for what you do goes a long way.
“For all the new faces, we try to instill in them how much we all care about what we do and how it makes a difference,” he said. “Our goal is to strive to make each person happy with their meals. Food makes everything better.”