Cedric Junearick: Reluctant star
At a Glance
- Part of 9th largest hospital system in the U.S.
- $7.6 million foodservice budget
- 613,000 patient meals served annually
- 213 employees
Cedric Junearick has helped transform foodservice at Huntsville Hospital by:
- Reducing the foodservice budget by nearly $2 million in two years
- Creating a delivery program that generates a minimum of $100 a day in extra revenue
- Building a team of managers who have helped define the department’s mission and boosted staff morale
Cedric Junearick, foodservice director for Huntsville Hospital, in Alabama, admits he never really saw himself in the role of foodservice director. A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Junearick was most comfortable in the kitchen, preparing meals and planning menus. So in 2011, when the director’s position came open, the chef had a hard decision to make.
“When Bill [Notte] left, my first thought was that I just wanted to play the chef role,” Junearick recalls. “My passion was food, and being director meant that I would have to learn the political side of the house.”
But on the flip side, Junearick says, he was already “the face of foodservice” because he had a history with Huntsville. Before the hospital went self-op in 2009, he had worked as executive chef there under Morrison Management Specialists.
“There were some new players here, but everybody knew me,” Junearick says. “They knew who to come to to get the job done.”
So when administrators came to the chef, he agreed to take on a new role. Junearick now runs the foodservice program at Huntsville Hospital, an 881-bed acute-care facility, and he oversees operations at nine other institutions in the Huntsville system, each of which has its own manager.
But for all his reluctance, Junearick has embraced his new job with the same passion he showed in the kitchen. Overseeing an operation that turns out as many as 2,400 patient meals a day and provides a variety of retail outlets for staff and visitors, Junearick has proven that he indeed has the skills to succeed. The retail operation includes a main food court where Huntsville staff operate a barbecue station selling meats that are smoked daily, an action station, sub and wrap station, entrée area and grill station. In addition, Huntsville rents out space to two local restaurants: Sakura’s, which serves sushi and Asian food items, and Mama’s, an Italian concept with pizza, pasta, specialty salads and hot sub sandwiches.
Junearick has reduced his operating costs by nearly $2 million in two years, mostly by streamlining inventory and reducing back-of-house waste. He engineered the foodservice portion of the construction of a new women’s and children’s hospital that included room service. He has built up the retail side of the house by such means as producing grab-and-go items for the entire 10-hospital system, operating five coffee kiosks/c-stores and, most recently, creating a delivery program.
Those are just the operational successes, the things Junearick will tell you about. He is a humble man, and it must be left to others to talk about how he has transformed himself.
“Did you know he has developed his own spice line?” asks Char Norton, a former hospital foodservice director turned consultant. “He has gone to Toastmasters because he felt he didn’t speak well and wanted to be a better presenter. He also became a certified dietary manager (CDM) because he knew he couldn’t be an R.D. and wanted to understand the nutrition side of the business.”
Southern born and bred
Junearick, who grew up in Mississippi and Arkansas, says he got his love of food from his grandmother, even though she died when he was young.
“She had her own garden, and I remember her in that garden and the meals she would put together; very creative,” he recalls. “That’s where the love of cooking was implanted in my soul.”
Junearick was unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. Though he had college scholarship offers, he decided to forgo school and join the Army. But that didn’t mean he had a fighting spirit.
“I wanted an easy job,” he admits. “I wanted to be indoors and I wanted to be around people, so I transferred to foodservice. I had a chance to be creative and I got to see how food was produced in mass amounts. It was exciting.”