Living Through the Power of Food
Written by: Amanda Cepero | Communications Intern | Compass One Healthcare on July 5, 2017
Morrison Chef Jeffery Quasha is a culinary industry veteran with more than 25 years of culinary experience under his belt.
Early in his career, he worked tirelessly in all types of restaurants under some of the country’s finest chefs. All too often Chef Jeffery would spend 17 hours a day, five or more days per week, working in the kitchen. Like many chefs in the restaurant biz can attest to, the grueling schedule took its toll on Chef Quasha as his family continued to grow.
After enduring the strains the restaurant industry put on work-life balance and a season of caring for his mother-in-law while she battled cancer, Chef Jeffery knew it was time for a change. “Life is short. After working 17 hours a day, six days a week for 14+ years, I realized that nobody would really care in the end. I’d eventually come to the end of my career with very little to show for all that time spent in the kitchen,” said Jeffery.
This paradigm shift inspired a focus change. In 2013, Jeffery moved from the restaurant industry to healthcare food service and joined the Morrison Healthcare family as a Senior Executive Chef of Memorial Hospital in Savannah, Georgia. Later he was promoted to his current role as the Corporate Executive R&D Chef for Morrison.
Working with Morrison, Jeffery enjoys more time with his family, something many Morrison chefs who come from other industries also explain is a priceless “perk.” A more stable work schedule means Jeffery gets to eat dinner with his wife and kids, enjoy his weekends, and be a present father.
When Jeffery switched to healthcare food service, he found more time for family but also a greater purpose at work. Chef knows his food is impacting patients and their families. “The food going up to the floor for the patients—it could be that person’s first meal at the hospital, or their last meal before surgery or being discharged. Every dish, everything that we create on a daily basis has a role, whether it’s restorative, energizing, or comforting,” says Jeffery, “People are in a hospital for a reason, they don’t choose to be there.”
Jeffery’s perspective on the power of food and its multifaceted role is what drives him to ensure each plate is up to scratch. Chef Quasha encourages his team to measure the integrity of every plate with what he calls “The Momma Factor.” If your momma was lying in a hospital bed or walking into the café for the first time would you be happy with what she saw, ate, and experienced?
Earlier this year, Chef Quasha was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that attacks bone marrow, but he’s not slowing down. The diagnosis has sparked a new passion and determination to dig deeper into food’s restorative power. Chef is spending more time creating dishes and developing patient and retail menus that reflect foods that incorporate his heightened focus on healing. “I’ve incorporated the idea of food as medicine into our LTO’s (limited time offers) and into our retail programs this year,” Jeffery says. Determined to be a “walking talking Power of Food Playbook,” Chef Quasha is whipping up restorative dishes that still please the taste buds. Ingredients with anti-inflammatory qualities such as turmeric, garlic, and ginger, are stars in his new recipes.
“I want to make sure that I’m all in, not one foot in and one foot out; I’m 100% committed to food as medicine. That’s the direction Morrison is going, and I really want to help lead that charge.”
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