Rex Healthcare rolls out “Black Hat 2.0”

Published in FSD Update

The Black Hat chef program, one of the most talked about culinary training modules in healthcare foodservice, has become obsolete at Rex Healthcare, in Raleigh, N.C. But that’s just fine for Foodservice Director Jim McGrody; he’s already found something to replace it.

McGrody has created Discovery Sessions for his chefs and cooks. In a Discovery Session, a member of the culinary team can carve out some time during the workweek to learn a new skill that, ultimately, should benefit the department. Now eight months old, the program—which McGrody calls Black Hat 2.0—has allowed seven chefs to learn skills as diverse as making sourdough bread from scratch and refining charcuterie skills. Ten more employees are on a waiting list.

McGrody says the new program was born of necessity. “After about two years, our food culture started to change,” he explains. “Our reputation started to grow in the Raleigh market. We started getting chefs from the restaurant community who wanted to be part of what we do. I now have seven culinary graduates working with me. They’re extremely talented people and they already knew the stuff we taught in Black Hats. So that program became obsolete.”

Discovery Sessions grew out of a conversation with a team member during recipe development. “The chef said to me, ‘I wish I could do what you’re doing,’” he relates. “And I thought about it and said, ‘why can’t he?’ So I sat down with the chefs and asked them, ‘What do you want to discover about food? What do you want to learn that you’ve never had the chance to do?’”

Under the program, one chef or cook at a time works on a project of his or her choosing. Participants are required to keep a journal and in monthly meetings they talk about the experience. “It creates a culture of food speak,” McGrody says, “and it creates this energy in the kitchen. These guys can’t believe they’re getting paid to discover something they always wanted to learn.”

It also helps to build camaraderie, as chefs share knowledge with each other. McGrody talks about one chef who wanted to learn to make sausage. Another team member, who once worked in a sausage shop, served as a mentor.

“The biggest difference between this and Black Hats is this is sustainable,” he adds. “There are always things people want to learn, and always people willing to share their knowledge on those subjects.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Howard County Public School System in Ellicott City, Md., will be offering free lunch to students for two days during winter break, The Baltimore Sun reports.

This is the first time the district will be providing meals over winter break. The lunch will be served on Dec. 27 and 28 at two sites in the community.

About 22.2% of the district’s students are enrolled for free or reduced-price meals. The district served 66,276 meals last summer during its summer meal program .

Read the full story via baltimoresun.com .

Industry News & Opinion

Cranston School District in Cranston, R.I., has hired a collection agency to help reduce its lunch debt , NBC 10 reports.

The district’s chief operating officer sent a letter to parents saying that the district would be using a collection agency next year to collect outstanding lunch balances after other collection methods have failed. Parents who owe $20 or more and haven’t paid in the last 60 days will receive a letter from the agency starting Jan. 2, 2019.

Cranston accumulated $95,508 in unpaid lunch balances between Sept. 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018. The district’s meal...

Ideas and Innovation
hot school lunch

As lunch shaming remains in the national spotlight, many school districts have turned away from providing alternate meals, such as a cheese sandwich, to students who can’t pay for lunch. While this ensures that students are provided a full meal and aren’t stigmatized, it has caused some districts to quickly accumulate lunch debt . In order to keep funds under control, school districts throughout the country are now relying on assistance from their communities to defray the cost of some meals.

1. School lunch fairies

Students at Apollo-Ridge School District in Spring Church, Pa.,...

Industry News & Opinion

When looking for a way to get more use out of its Canyon Cafe, open during the weekends only, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., tried something new: free cooking classes.

Classes are open to students, as well as faculty and staff, and are taught by Campus Dining Executive Chef Michael Albright, according to Mustang News .

The weekday classes, which are capped at 14 participants, have taught attendees how to make items such as probiotic overnight oats and “the perfect turkey.” Interested parties can sign up online via the school’s dining...

FSD Resources