Chefs do it veggie-style

For Vegetarian Awareness Month, chefs at Lee Memorial Health System compete in a vegetarian cook-off.

Published in Healthcare Spotlight

lee memorial health vegetarian cook-off

As part of Vegetarian Awareness Month, the culinary team at Lee Memorial Health System in Florida gave special focus to vegetarian foods. They created weekly cafeteria specials in the system’s four hospitals to encourage experimentation with meatless alternatives and recipes.  The chefs travelled to each hospital with guests voting on the best dish, culminating in a cook off competition.

“Nov. 5 was chosen as the date for our Grand Champion Cook-off because it is the American Heart Association’s National Healthy Eating Day,” says Larry Altier, System Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Lee Memorial Health System. “We thought it would be a fun and interactive way to celebrate this day that is meant to inspire everyone to make healthier food choices. We had great turnouts at the hospitals. Roughly 2,400 staff members stopped by to learn more and sample the food.”

Altier adds that part of the goal of the program was to emphasize proper nutrition as an important part of a healthy lifestyle. A vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity, he notes. 

Four chefs competed for a chance to earn the title of Grand Champion:  Chris Jameson of Cape Coral Hospital; Amauris “Ace” Mazano of Gulf Coast Medical Center; Jack Brown of HealthPark Medical Center, and Jason Goetz from Lee Memorial Hospital. Four guest judges—Rowe Hudson, director of Lee Health Solutions; Kathy Reynaert, facilitator of the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP); Kelly Goodwien, director of the American Heart Association; and Jessica Carter Peer, a Lee Memorial Health System board member—chose the best overall dish: Jason Goetz’s salad made with kale, beets, sweet potatoes and chickpeas.

Goetz received the Vegetarian Grand Champion trophy, which will be displayed at Lee Memorial Hospital. All four chefs received gift baskets and food-related gift cards for their participation. Goetz says the competition has inspired him to create new vegetarian dishes in the coming months.

“We are fortunate to have such a talented group of professionals working in our kitchens,” Altier says. “The dishes they created for this competition will make their way onto our menus in the months to come. We will definitely continue this event next year..”

Altier credits Rose Garcia, a coder in Health Information Management for the health system, as instrumental in getting the event off the ground . He refers to Garcia as “an awesome vegetarian ambassador.” 

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
food delivery

When Oregon State University began offering Food2You, a late-night delivery service on campus, Dining Operations Manager Chris Anderson expected the service to handle around 80 orders per evening. It turns out his guess was “grossly underestimated,” Anderson told attendees of last week’s NACUFS National Conference , held this year in Providence, R.I., as the dining team now fulfills around 320 Food2You orders nightly.

Through the program, students at the Corvallis, Ore., school can order from a limited menu of wood-fired pizzas, salads, pastas, cookies and assorted beverages from 9...

Managing Your Business
management team

Last week’s NACUFS National Conference proved to be a treasure trove of management and staffing takeaways. Here are a few we noted at the annual event , held this year in Providence, R.I.

1. Make it scalable

When explaining something new to staff, instead of asking, “You got it?” or “You with me?” have employees rate how well they understand the new material on a scale of 1 to 10, said Ron Paul, a senior consulting partner for Partners in Leadership, during a session on building accountability in the workplace. People are likely to say yes even when they don’t fully grasp what you’...

Ideas and Innovation
song break

Once per month in a daily huddle, we dedicate a few minutes for the staff to sing a short song. The staff has responded so positively to this. They now bring costumes and other props. It's a few short minutes, but the payoff has been tremendous.

Photo courtesy of iStock

Ideas and Innovation
plastic straws

An item about the size of a pencil has become the latest target in foodservice operators’ sustainability plans. Though small, plastic straws are said to have a large impact on the environment, with Americans using approximately 500 million straws each day, according to a release from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, which temporarily ditched plastic straws as part of an Earth Day promotion this year.

In recent months, a growing number of eateries and cities across the United States have scrapped plastic straws. In July, Seattle enacted a ban on plastic straws and utensils, requiring...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code