Festive Feasts

Fresh, seasonal fare for holiday meals.

Foodservice operators always look to impress, but during the winter holiday season the stakes are even higher, as chefs seek innovative methods to help customers celebrate with family, friends and colleagues. On the non-commercial side, operators have the difficult task of ensuring the holiday feast is not only delicious, but healthy as well.

New Milford Hospital, Conn.

Serving a Christmas dinner that is delicious, festive and healthful in a hospital café is nothing extraordinary for Kerry Gold, Unidine dining service director and executive chef at New Milford Hospital. Day in and day out his kitchen prepares fresh, seasonal foods from scratch, winning praise from the staff and patients of the 88-bed facility as well as area residents who visit for lunch.

“We don’t use the old ‘can to pan’ approach,” says Gold. “The culinarians on my team are cutting fresh broccoli right now. We don’t use any precut vegetables. Even for our patient tray line we make fresh mashed potatoes every day.”

Gold gets as much produce as he can from local farmers. In early December, he was getting local potatoes, broccoli and winter spinach. Because he cooks from scratch, he controls the sodium. He favors herbs rather than salt for flavoring. His chef-crafted menus are priced at an extremely modest $6 for a complete meal.

Past holiday repasts have featured traditional fare like roast turkey, prime rib, roast pork, twice-baked potatoes and pumpkin pie. But at press time, Gold was pondering a different tack for the upcoming Christmas menu.

“I would love to do a European-style Christmas here, which would traditionally be roast goose or duck trimmed up nicely,” says Gold. “You could accompany it with many interesting things, like sauerkraut, braised red cabbage and caramelized Brussels sprouts.”

New Milford Hospital Menu Sampler

• Thanksgiving Chef’s Table: Roast turkey, baked stuffed shells, herb sage stuffing, sweet potato mash, green beans, housemade cranberry sauce

• Soup: Butternut squash bisque

• Salad: Mixed green salad

• Grab & Go features: Sandwich: Egg salad on a croissant, turkey, ham, or roast beef sandwich; salads: grilled asparagus, garden Salad, fresh fruit salad 

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