Hospital Food

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by botanique, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. botanique

    botanique

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    Greetings from a horizontal cook! LOL Home after a fun surgery and recouping just fine. I missed this forum though!!! I think the worst thing about being sick was that I LOST (yes, completely) my apetite. Lost quite a few pounds, but not a crash diet I would wish on anyone that loves food! It was torture.

    Anyhow, I have a question for anyone who has ever worked in a hospital kitchen: a hospital is supposed to be a place one goes to be healed, or made comfortable to die. For those on the health track, it does not make sense why the food I have "experienced" has either been way high in sodium, sugar, is processed, or high in fat and calories (I am sure a plate full of nachos or a cheeseburger is great comfortfood, but...). And luckily there's a salad on the menu, but unfortunately the dressing packet has MSG on the ingredient list. Hmmmm.

    I don't want to sound ungrateful for the care I got, because the procedure went fabulous, the staff attentive, and I was home very fast -- but this is something I have been wondering about for quite a while, and this hospital is not the first I have had "patient" meals in.

    Any comments?

    GREAT TO BE BACK!!! Great to have my appetite back too! :lips: AND Great to have my husband back -- they pulled him off the ship to come home and take care of me -- LOL we'll be eating a lot of take out and big salads! ;-)
     
  2. chrose

    chrose

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    Welcome back Botanique,
    I'm glad you're feeling better and back among us. I spent 3 years as a hospital cook, now that was a long time ago though. So I can only speak from my experience. Back then we also didn't have fast food companies opening up mini shops in the hospital nor did we have contract cooking such as Aramark. We were our own little entity. That being said, the way it worked was we had an F&B manager. He was in charge of all the food department employees etc. Next was the department manager who did the ordering of the foods and paper goods as well as labor issues, money, scheduling of the other foodservice employees. Then there was the purchasing agent who took all the req's and did the actual ordering. Then there was the Chef in charge of hiring and ordering and scheduling the cooks. Then there was us, the cooks.
    The cooks were a motley bunch. The chef was in his early 40's I imagine and must have been military trained. Among us was a lifer cook in his early to mid 40's who was going to eventually take over his fathers small restaurant down south. There was 35 year old or so alcoholic, then there was me, 18 at the time. None of us were formerly trained. So things like braising though known in practice, the theory behind it was largely unknown by anyone there. The manager kept his budgets in check by ordering the least expensive items he could get away with. The purchaser I'm almost sure was getting sweetheart deals from the sales reps. So I would think that everybody had a hand in something somewhere and of course the quality suffered.
    So pair low quality food items, with poorly trained help, an apathetic attitude that many lower paid people in the health services have (sorry if I step on any toes, but reality hurts sometimes) and what you have is a recipe for mediocrity at best. Money is the bottom line here, not food quality, not reputations. I did my best when I was there. I was in charge of "gourmet meals" that the people would pay extra for. But remember that the only training I had at the time was from cooking at home and watching my parents who were quite good cooks. So those patients were lucky to have me, even though what I put out was pretty ecchhh in retrospect! But at least I tried.
    So there's one thought for you. Be glad you're eating at home again.
    (Between you and me...when I am in the hospital, I don't mind the food, because I understand where it comes from and I just love people serving me in bed, so I'll put up with almost anything :crazy: )
     
  3. katbalou

    katbalou

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    botanique,
    no answer to your question, i think it's part of a plan to make you leave the hospital sooner!! :roll: i just want to say that i hope you feel better.
    kat
     
  4. botanique

    botanique

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    chrose -- interesting info, thank you for sharing that. Maybe I live in la la land sometimes. LOL I just equate hospital with health....

    Kat -- thank you, that is very kind of you. Actually, recovery is moving along quite well! I was too much of a tough chicki and over exerted the first few days, so now I'm kind of paying for it, but other than the pain of sutures and having "things" moved around inside, I feel GREAT! My husband took me for sushi today!!!! Yes, I actually got dressed and went to a restaurant! That was the best darned sushi I have ever had :lips: No pain pills either, so I got to have some saki. I was ready to throw on an aprin and jump behind the sushi bar and go to work!!!