Foodservice staff at Arkansas Children’s Northwest Hospital in Springdale, Ark., recently created and served their own dishes in honor of the hospital’s diversity and inclusion week.
Six members of the foodservice team were chosen to participate in a “Food Fight.” Each participant made a dish representing their cultural background, which later went head to head with one of their peers’ dishes.
Each day that week, the team selected two of the dishes to serve. Diners got to sample both and then vote on their favorite.
Dishes included pork tamales wrapped in banana leaves, stuffed plantains with a sweet black bean mixture using cocoa from Guatemala and a homemade Guatemalan roll; grilled fresh mahi-mahi and pumpkin rice made with coconut milk (Marshall Islands); Cornish game hens with orange sauce, Bombay rice dressing, glazed carrots and turnips, and cracklin’ cornbread (Southern U.S.), pub-style beef stout pot pie with boxty bread (Ireland); Yorkshire pudding with grilled lamb chops (England); and chili rellenos with pomegranate seeds and rice (Mexico).
Foodservice members also wrote the stories behind the dishes they were serving, which were printed out for diners to read while they sampled the dishes.
Director of Foodservice Megan Herrmann says the story component was one of diners’ favorite parts of the week, and it also gave team members a chance to share their backgrounds and cultural pride.
“That’s the best part of having such a diverse team—it enriches us in ways we’d never know if we didn’t slow down and take the time to listen to each other’s stories,” she says. “By letting [staff] choose what they wanted to cook this week, I’ve seen them be proud of their cultures and family stories and traditions. One of the doctors was so sweet when he came back to vote; he tore the ticket in half and voted for them both. That gesture made our day.”