GLEN COVE, NY – In a heated cooking competition, chefs from Northern Westchester Hospital dazzled judges winning first prize for their Moroccan-inspired entrée, “Pork Tenderloin Casablanca” in North Shore-LIJ’s fourth annual Ultimate Chef Challenge. Culinary masters from 14 hospitals across the health system competed in the contest held at Glen Cove Hospital, proving that they can serve up delicious restaurant-quality meals, but without the high fat, calories or sodium.
“At any hospital, cooking is a true team effort and a gift that has real creative license – however, our patients are our number one priority,” said Patricia Sobol, executive chef at Northern Westchester Hospital, which joined North Shore-LIJ last year.
Ms. Sobol was teamed with chef Chris Counts, who said, “We were able to make a really delicious dish, select from the freshest ingredients, perfect the flavor and present a great dish.”
Between them, Ms. Sobol and Mr. Counts have 34 years of professional cooking experience and prepare 2,000 meals a day at their hospital.
Earning second place at the challenge was LIJ Medical Center with a mouth-watering dish of “Lemongrass Burblonc Halibut.” Plainview Hospital chefs took third place with a delectable “Risotto Primavera with Shrimp”
Coinciding with National Nutrition Month in March, hospital culinary teams faced off at Glen Cove’s Pratt Auditorium, which was transformed into a giant kitchen equipped with electric burners, a pantry and a bountiful farmers’ market for the cooking contest.
Each team had 45 minutes to create tasty, attractive and nutritious meals for the three judges to score, and one for the presentation table. Hospital culinary teams were paired with a registered dietician from a North Shore-LIJ hospital to ensure that each dish was equal or less than 500 calories, 15 grams of fat and 600 milligrams of sodium. Teams were given a “surprise protein” – such as halibut, shrimp, chicken and pork tenderloin – around which to build their original entree.
“We can no longer deny the fact that some hospitals offer food choices that are no better than fast food. The priorities need to shift, and they have here at North Shore-LIJ, through collaboration between, chefs, farmers and doctors,” said Robert E. Graham, MD, director of integrative health & wellness at North Shore-LIJ; director of resident research internal medicine residency program at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, and one of the competition’s judges. “We are investing in a culture of health and wellness in order to maintain a healthy work place and workforce and it starts with food. I believe improving our hospital food is good medicine.”
The other two judges were Todd Daigneanult, an executive chef at Overlook Medical Center in New Jersey and Robert Ashton, MD, chief medical officer at MYOS Corporation, also in new Jersey, where he focuses on general health and wellness in the nutrition and life sciences industries.
“Health system chefs and staff create over 8 million meals annually for patients, staff and visitors, which is quite a feat,” said Michael Kiley, director of nutrition and food services at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, who organized the cook-off. In this competition, chefs can focus their talents on one dish, demonstrating that they can prepare appealing food that tastes delicious and is nutritious.”