September 7, 2006

Chicken breast for the soul

News from Tampa that a culinary team from Swedish Hospital has won the national championship at the HFM cook-off . (That's the National Society for Healthcare Foodservice Management, dontcha know.) Swedish had already won the annual Ivy Award from the trade mag Restaurants & Institutions two years ago for serving the best, er, institutional food in the country.

Swedish.jpg Hospital Food.jpg

Now before you start snickering, ask yourself where it's written that sick people have to eat cold, disgusting crap off a tray thrust at them in their time of misery by some dismal orderly. A tray that 90 percent of the time, by the way, gets dumped into the garbage untouched. Wouldn't it be nice, the thinking goes, to be able to order a tuna melt on rye when you wake up ravenous at 2 AM? Or a midmorning snack of cookies and ice cream? Why not, indeed.

Swedish, to its credit, hired a nutritionist named Robert Caudle to change the staff's approach to food service, which is now in the hands of his successor, Kris Schroeder, and a Paris-trained executive chef,
Eric Eisenberg
. Their team of cooks feed 2,000 patients a day; because patients order what they want, when they want it, they actually eat the food, and the hospital actually saves money. The winning dish whipped up by the Swedish crew for the Florida judges: Mojito Chicken Cubanos al Espeton, no less, served with manchego fondue and savory mango-pinto bean purée. (Want the recipe? Click here.)

Footnote: why chicken breast? Ah, because Tyson, that stalwart of corporate and institutional foodservice, was a sponsor. A reasonable tradeoff? Or yet another example of the pervasive influence of agribiz on our industrial food chain?

Posted by Ronald Holden at September 7, 2006 10:51 AM

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Same guy indeed! They say nice things about him online. This is from the speaker bios at the "Seafood Summit 2006" --

ERIC EISENBERG, Executive Chef, Swedish Medical Center

PANEL: Making the Grade: Challenges and Opportunities for Food Service

A Native New Yorker, Eric Eisenberg received his culinary training in some of that city’s finest restaurants before attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, in which city he worked for five years. In 1991 he was executive chef in two Manhattan locations before journeying West to follow his dream of owning a classic French restaurant. Between 1996-2001, Eric owned and operated the Relais de Lyon in Bothell, WA. Seeking to expand his horizons and spend weekends with his family, Eric sold the restaurant in 2001 and became Executive Chef for a private golf and county club in Everett WA. A year ago Eric became Executive Chef for Swedish Medical Center in Seattle WA. Eric is enthusiastic about being part of the movement to improve the quality and reputation of foodservice in healthcare.

Posted by: Ronald at September 7, 2006 4:05 PM

Is that the same chef Eisenberg that took over the old Gerard's in Bothell when Gerard sold it?
My father in law was in the hospital for weeks this summer, he survived, but the food sure didn't help any!

Posted by: deba at September 7, 2006 2:54 PM