On a Tuesday morning in March, chef Bruno Tison presided. Over a frenzied cook-off between. Teams from 16 health care facilities at Glen Cove Hospital on Long Island. Mr. Tison was hired last September by the nonprofit network Northwell. Health to help transform the food service at the company’s 23 New York-area hospitals.
Teams of cooks in towering chef caps. Together with white-suited dietitians, had 45 minutes to transform a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables and meats piled on a table at the center of the auditorium into four-course meals of their own devising. Their creations not only had to meet restrictions for salt and calories. But were judged according to criteria not usually applied to hospital food like palatability. Plate appearance and skill in cooking.
Chef Tison says that the bland, institutionalized fare typical of the health system lacks not just culinary distinction but often nutritional quality. For many patients, the lackluster food is just one more drawback of being in the hospital.
Another Food In Hospital
That’s a squandered opportunity, says Mr. Tison. The Michelin-starred chef argues that good food can offer a welcome break from the enforced monotony of a hospital stay, potentially boosting patient morale and speeding recovery.
“Many hospital chefs don’t have any culinary experience,” Mr. Tison said. “My job is to give them some guidance so that they can flourish in their position and really enjoy what they are doing.”
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Thomas Mencaccini, who cooks at Long Island Jewish Hospital in Valley Stream, is among the chefs getting culinary tips from Mr. Tison. He was hurrying to complete his team’s seared scallops with roasted leeks and a citrus salad before the closing bell. “It’s bringing me back to that rush of cooking in a restaurant, getting things ready in time, hitting the ground running,” he said after spooning the browned scallops from the skillet.