Hospital cooks take great care with food prep

Attention to detail presents food in best light possible.

June 21—At Mercy Medical Center, in Sioux City, Iowa, Executive Chef Tracey Badar says hospital corners, in a way, work in food preparation.

"We had a discussion just today about wraps and how we want all our staff to wrap and tuck food properly as it presents the food in the best way, showing straight lines and sharp cuts," Badar said. "It shows how much we care for our food."

And, by extension, how much his staff cares for its customers. A sign posted in the kitchen says as much: "Remember: We're here for the customers." When Kim McCumber, the patient food service manager at Mercy Medical Center, started in this trade 34 years ago, the emphasis wasn't customer satisfaction. The negative connotation that came with "hospital food" may have been justified.

"It was typical back then. We served blah hospital food," she said.

Today? Staffers study food trends. They learn how color schemes can enhance the food experience for a diner. Along with Beef Brisket (Mercy's most popular food item), the staff in the Mercy Medical Center kitchen whips up creations like the Santa Fe Chicken Wrap, the Greek Salad and quesadillas.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources