Grace Ridge Trudi Nowlin

Trudi Nowlin (center) visits with residents at the Grace Ridge Retirement Community.

The Grace Ridge Retirement Community has a new person overseeing all aspects of its food service.

Trudi Nowlin was hired as director of food and nutritional services on July 1, according to a press release from the facility.

Nowlin was born and raised in Stratton-St. Margaret in Wiltshire County in England. She knew right away that she wanted to pursue a career in culinary arts.

“I’ve always been excited by food – the color, the taste and how it makes people feel,” Nowlin said. “I decided to go to culinary school right out of high school.”

She moved to America in 1984, after meeting and marrying her husband, who was an U.S. Air Force officer stationed in England.

Once settled in the U.S., Nowlin worked in long-term care for 17 years and applied her culinary management skills for Wuesthoff Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, for the past 16 years, according to the release. For the past six years, she managed culinary services for a 90-residence assisted living community affiliated with the hospital. Since 1995, she has held the credentials of certified dietary manager and certified food protection professional through the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals. The credentials indicate expertise in assuring food safety, managing food service operations, understanding important principles of nutrition, creating and implementing menus and preparing food.

She explained what drew her to Morganton and Grace Ridge.

“Dave and I, whenever we could get a break, would always come to North Carolina, to the mountains,” Nowlin said. “We’ve always loved this area. (When) Morrison Healthcare, the hospital I’d been at for 16 years, lost our (food service) account to Sodexo, I called my boss and see what other opportunities Morrison had for me, especially in this area. This is really the one I fell in love with, because I really love this age group. It’s much more rewarding than a hospital, because in a hospital, the patients are only there for a couple days, but when you’re working in this environment, you can build long-term relationships and get to see the same people every day.”

As director of dining services, Nowlin plays a significant role in both day-to-day operations and meal preparation, including cooking, the press release said. She manages a staff of 20-22 people at Grace Ridge. Senior living in recent years has moved toward fine dining with a focus on exquisite food and exemplary service.

“I think in today’s world, everybody’s looking for better choices in food and wellness,” Nowlin said. “The older community actually does a better job, I think, of watching what they eat, especially portion sizes. It’s an important part of healing.”

She shared what her experience on the job has been like so far.

“It’s been amazing,” Nowlin said. “I really feel like this is where I was supposed to be. I was completely at home here after a couple of days. Everybody is so friendly and accommodating. Everybody really made me feel a part of the Grace Ridge family from the beginning.”

To learn more about the Grace Ridge Retirement Community, contact 828-580-8300 or visit www.graceridge.org.

Staff writer Tammie Gercken can be reached at tgercken@morganton.com.

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