GLEN COVE, NY – Hospital chefs from Glen Cove Hospital took vegetarian cuisine to new heights recently by winning first prize for their creative and delicious plant-based cooking at North Shore-LIJ’s Third Annual Ultimate Chef Challenge, which was held at Glen Cove Hospital.
Participants were required to showcase a meatless entrée and Chefs Lyndon Espiritu and Dalton Christopher dazzled judges and beat out 12 other health system facilities by making the scrumptious entrée, “Seitan Polenta Croquette, Spicy Pesto Sauce with Zucchini Radicchio Salad and Melon Shooter.”
“Our dish was totally different – it looks and tastes great and is nutritious,” said Mr. Dalton. Chef Lyndon added, “This year was our redemption and we were thinking out of the box, dealing with vegetarians. It feels great to win on our home turf. ”
Earning second place at the challenge was Forest Hills Hospital with a delectable dish of Tempeh stuffed Eggplant with Carrot Puree and Blackberry Coulis. Huntington Hospital took third place with an inventive recipe of Raspberry Tofu Blintzes.
Coinciding with National Nutrition Month in March, hospital culinary teams from Queens, Long Island, Manhattan and Staten Island faced off in the hospital’s Pratt Auditorium, which was transformed into a giant kitchen equipped with stove top burners, a pantry and a colorful abundant farmers’ market.
“The cooking competition shows that hospital chefs can serve up gourmet restaurant-quality vegetarian meals, but without the high fat, calories or sodium,” said Michael Kiley, organizer of the popular event and director of nutrition and dining services at North Shore University Hospital.
Each team had 45 minutes hour to create a delicious, attractive and nutritious meal centered around a “surprise” plant-based protein of either seitan (wheat gluten), tempeh (fermented soybeans), tofu (bean curd) or chick peas. Chefs were paired with a registered dietician from a North Shore-LIJ hospital to ensure that each dish contained equal or less than 500 calories, 15 grams and 600 milligrams of sodium.
All entrees and side dishes prepared during the competition were rated by judges for taste, nutrition, originality and presentation. Celebrity judges this year were Jennifer Mieres, MD, a cardiologist and the health system’s senior vice president for community and public health; Robert Graham, MD, of Lenox Hill Hospital who is certified in complementary and integrated medical therapies, and Todd Daigneanult, executive chef at Overlook Medical Center of Atlantic Healthcare Systems in NJ.
“As a health system, it’s important that we empower people to lead a healthy life, promote plant-based diets and encourage more different colored foods on the plate,” said Dr. Mieres. “North Shore-LIJ is committed to health and wellness and nutrition is a key component of that,” adding, “Good nutrition also puts us on a journey for strong heart health.”
“There is a food revolution in the health system and the United States,” said Dr. Graham. “Food brings us together and we are leading a change in healthy eating across the health system.”
To view a video of the Ultimate Chef Healthy Entrée Challenge: Click Here