Chefs who make a difference

These 10 chefs are influential not only in their operations but their communities as well.

Daniel Skay
Nutrition Manager/Executive Chef
Parker and Castle Rock Adventist Hospitals
Castle Rock, Colo.

Why Chef Dan?
According to Lisa Poggas, nutrition and environmental services director:

“Dan proudly mentors culinary interns from Johnson & Wales University, as well as dietetic students for foodservice management throughout the country. He takes every opportunity to share his passion for creative culinary delights through cooking demonstrations to breast cancer survivors to speaking with the guests in Manna (the hospital’s) restaurant. His excitement about his specials is palpable.

On Aug. 1, Castle Rock Adventist Hospital opened in the Denver metropolitan area. When we were asked to help design the foodservice for Castle Rock, Chef Dan definitely thought outside the box. He came up with a full-service restaurant concept to help minimize equipment and labor for cost savings. Eventually, he was able to convince the executive team that this would be a win-win concept and he would make it successful.

[The hospital’s] Manna restaurant features produce from our community and kitchen garden with meats and other products from local vendors, such as honey, goat cheese and non-alcoholic Colorado wines.

Chef Dan has developed a reputation throughout the community and Centura (the organization Parker belongs to) for offering the most sublime food. When there are board meetings for Centura, we are the destination hospital due to the caliber of the food. He continually strives to produce the most creative, flavorful and healthy dishes every day for Parker and Castle Rock Adventist Hospitals.”

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Three years ago, Colonial School District in New Castle, Del., started a pilot supper program at its high school. The goal: To make sure the district’s students, 57% of whom are on free or reduced-priced meals, would not be hungry when school is done for the day.

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We put our hydroponic gardens in a spot where students can watch them grow, but at the same time it’s safe from being tampered with. At one of our elementary schools, the gardens are in the kitchen, but there’s a window where students can look in as they walk down the hallway. Some even stop to count how many cucumbers they see.

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We started a 50-member vegan team in response to students expressing the need for more vegan options. Between our monthly meetings, students are asked to take photos of foods they eat in and out of the dining halls to give us a true picture of the kinds of things they like and the kinds of foods that cause disappointment. This exercise has sparked a lot of conversation and given us more insight into what we could do better.

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Some of our employees can work four 10-hour days. It’s really helped with balance. We’ve also created a lot of hybrid positions, such as a personal services assistant and foodservice worker role. It allows workers to pick up more shifts and cover both positions.

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