Newport News, Va. – Like it was yesterday, Frank Lang can remember standing on the line as a budding cook fresh out of culinary school, pumping out orders flowing into a restaurant kitchen.
Order in. Cook. Plate up. Serve. Repeat.
Then something clicked, he said, “and I realized that it was so much more than just food, that whatever dish I was plating could make or break somebody’s night. We’ve all been out to dinner and had a dish that we didn’t think was the greatest and it’s disappointing. You can either make someone’s day with a great dish or ruin it.”
Lang is now bringing that same philosophy of culinary excellence and exceptional service to Warwick Forest, Riverside’s award-winning retirement community, as the new Director of Food Services, the health system announced this week.
Located in Newport News just over the York County border off of Old Denbigh Blvd., Riverside’s Warwick Forest is a continuing care retirement community offering all levels of care, including independent living apartments, assisted living, short and long-term rehabilitation, memory support care and skilled nursing care for long-term residents. Earlier this year, Warwick Forest earned the Gold Award in the Coastal Virginia Magazine’s 2018 Best Of Readers’ Choice Awards for best retirement community.
Originally from Florida, where he attended culinary school, Lang officially joined the Riverside team in May 2018.
Following his apprenticeship in Florida, Lang went on to cook with a hotel group that housed one of the first Shula’s Steak Houses. He then made his way to Virginia, with the same hospitality company, to work in the Commonwealth and take on his first sous chef position.
Lang ultimately followed his career out to Seattle, where he worked at a waterfront seafood grill, and then returned to Virginia where he served as a banquet chef in Virginia Beach and graduated into executive chef and other culinary management positions.
It was while working for a hotel in Williamsburg as a Food and Beverage Director that Lang learned about the opening at Warwick Forest for a new Director of Food Services.
He was immediately attracted to the Warwick Forest position.
As the Director of Food Services, Lang works closely with Warwick Forest’s executive chef creating menus for residents and developing new dining experiences for them.
Warwick Forest’s Independent Living features a Sunday brunch, as well as both fine dining and fast casual restaurants on site at the community.
“It is a restaurant,” Lang said. “We create menus. Tickets are coming in. Cooks are hustling.”
In Assisted Living, Lang said, residents can order off a menu and in the coming year the community will be adding an additional kitchen to provide even better service and an opportunity to create special events with the residents there.
“I am working closely with our Events Planner to add hors d'oeuvres and appetizers to the events we offer residents,” Lang said, noting things like Guys Night Out, special parties and happy hours. “We’re enhancing more and more each week how we make food a part of the celebration of life here.”
Lang said the team is also focusing on ways to further elevate the Warwick Forest dining experience.
“We’ve been doing more server training,” Lang said. “In fact we brought someone in from the outside to do our training. A lot of the residents appreciate what fine dining service is. We want to be sure we are always providing that level of service at every meal each day.”
Lang remains committed to every step of the food service experience at Warwick Forest. In fact, it’s not unusual to see Lang pull off his suit coat and throw on an apron and get back on the line in the kitchen.
When Lang is at home, grilling is his go-to method of cooking for his family of four that includes a wife and two sons.
“I know if my wife pulls her phone out to take a picture,” Lang said, “I did something right.”
Learn more at www.warwickforest.com or by calling 757-886-2200.
Published: September 21, 2018