Justin Johnson: "Scratch"-ing the surface

Justin Johnson has revived the foodservice department by transforming the mindset of staff from "factory mentality" to a "thoughtful relationship" with food.

At a Glance

  • 90 beds
  • 850 staff on campus and at surrounding clinics
  • Three retail outlets: Harvest Market, Harvest Café and a kiosk near the emergency room

Accomplishments

Justin Johnson has revived the foodservice department at Watertown Regional Medical Center by:

  • Converting patient foodservice from a trayline to a room service program where all foods are made to order
  • Opening a 95-seat restaurant in the hospital lobby, which has received plaudits for food quality
  • Creating an 11,000-square-foot-garden on the hospital grounds that, during the summer, supplies 80% to 85% of the department’s produce needs
  • Transforming the mindset of staff from “factory mentality” to a “thoughtful relationship” with food

Pages

In 2012, Justin Johnson was given a rare opportunity by the administrators at Watertown Regional Medical Center, in southeast Wisconsin. He was asked to create a new foodservice program at the 90-bed hospital, one that would purge the notion of bad hospital food from the minds of employees, patients and visitors.

“Administrators decided they didn’t want to serve ‘hospital food,’” recalls Johnson, a man who had both restaurant and non-commercial experience—but none in hospitals. “They wanted to approach food as medicine and they wanted people to have a memorable experience when they were here. But they said, ‘We’re not restaurateurs and so we don’t know how to do it.’”

Tina Crave, vice president and chief patient experience officer at Watertown, acknowledges this. “People see a hospital as a place to go when they’re sick,” Crave says. “But we’re part of the community and we should be more than that. We wanted a foodservice program that promotes health and wellness and at the same time gets away from the stereotypes that hospital foodservice has.”

To accomplish the task, Johnson switched to his default mode: prepare everything from scratch. He created a room service program where almost nothing is prepared until a patient’s order is first received in the kitchen. He applied the same philosophy to the Harvest Market, the 95-seat restaurant that opened in the fall of 2013 to replace the old employee cafeteria.

“Everything here is made from scratch,” Johnson says. “The only thing we don’t make in house is bread because of the volume we use.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...
Sponsored Content
chili flakes and peppers spicy hot

From Catallia.

When planning your menus, take note: college and university students think spicy is hot.

Fifty-seven percent of consumers age 18-34 find spicy flavors, “extremely appealing,” according to Technomic. And almost 50% of college students surveyed said they would like their schools to offer more ethnic foods and beverages, states a recent Technomic College & University Consumer Trend Report. Translation: they like their food kicked up a notch!

More Options than Ever

“Students of today are all about flavor,” says Steve Mangan, director of dining for...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo is partnering with celebrity chef Robert Irvine in an attempt to provide military communities with healthier meals.

The 10-year partnership will allow Sodexo to access chef Irvine’s knowledge of nutrition and fitness in its aim to benefit the quality of life for military members, the vendor said in a news release.

Sodexo hopes that Irvine’s popularity as the host of Food Network’s "Restaurant: Impossible" will draw attention to its commitment to nutrition, health and well being. Irvine also has a military history himself—before embarking on his culinary career, he...

Industry News & Opinion

The cafeteria at the Smithsonian's new National Museum for African American History and Culture is intended to be an extension of the museum, showcasing stations that offer cuisines from different geographic locations such as the Creole coast and agricultural South, Time reports .

The eatery, Sweet Home Cafe, was set up to highlight the wide range of African-American cuisine, Executive Chef Jerome Grant told Time. When it officially opens later this month, it will serve dishes such as shrimp and grits, pan-roasted oysters and a fried catfish po’boy.

Celebrity chef Carla...

FSD Resources