The Power of Food…and the Re-Invention of Hospital Food!

Written by: Chef Cary Neff on January 31, 2017


Chef Cary Neff leads the MHC Culinary Team
Chef Cary Neff leads the MHC Culinary Team

There are more than 600 executive chefs who proudly display the Morrison logo on their crisp, white coats. They also sport a classic pleated chef’s hat as they prepare to nourish weary, unsettled patients, and comfort visitors and caregivers with freshly prepared foods each and every day.

Each chef hired by the Culinary team is made aware during their interview and reminded on a daily basis of a singular and laser focused goal: to establish Morrison as the industry leader that forever changes the perception of “hospital food”.  We make it abundantly clear that we seek only talented culinarians who are excited and motivated to create change in healthcare food service.

We recognize but don’t accept the perception of “hospital food” as not tasting good or being good for you. Instead of comforting and healing, it’s often described as boring, not flavorful and dissatisfying.

For decades the healthcare industry standard was for talented Registered Dietitians (RDs) to develop patient menus that met nutritional requirements based on a doctor’s orders and a patient’s diet restrictions. Professionally trained chefs had little to no input on patient menu development, and no certification was offered to teach them the intricacies of patient dining. The typical hospital café also merely functioned as an employee cafeteria that accommodated guests with mostly “comfort” foods that were fried or high in sugar and carbohydrates.

As a result, patient food remained bland, and cafeteria food was, just cafeteria food! Sadly, it was frowned upon, but also widely accepted throughout the industry.

What if RDs and Chefs worked together to develop menus that feature great-tasting, healthy foods that meet the nutritional needs of the patient? And what if professionally trained Executive Chefs were empowered to create more nutrient-rich and delicious offerings in the café that deliver the same flavor satisfaction found in commercial restaurants?

Morrison Healthcare’s quest to become the industry-leading healthcare food service provider is centered around the patients and the pursuit of excellence. It’s accelerated by the Power of Food and the visionary attitude of constantly challenging the status quo by asking ourselves “What if?” and “Why not?”

What if we provide casual restaurant dining experiences by designing recipes with flavorful nutrient-dense ingredients, and why not be an active partner with healthcare practitioners to heal, nourish and motivate wellness lifestyle decisions?  What if we harness the Power of Food to consciously selects sustainable, seasonal fruits and vegetables to develop commercially competitive restaurant concepts that offer on-trend regional and globally inspired foods?

Morrison certified Executive Chefs are at the forefront of this by engaging with healthcare professionals, patients, and communities, and spearheading teaching kitchens to demonstrate the healing power of food as medicine. The journey to re-define healthcare food service starts with our ability to challenge industry standards by actively recruiting Executive Chefs who have diverse backgrounds and empowering them to be change agents and re-invent so-called “hospital food.”

ChefRaszat_Social

Chef Paul Ruszat, a Regional Executive Chef at CentraCare Hospital in St. Cloud MN, is a shining example who demonstrates operational excellence in safety and sanitation, increased patient satisfaction, reduced cost of goods, as well as retail sales growth and associate development in his account. Chef Paul recently made that 1% difference and gave extra effort by traveling 150 miles to conduct healthy eating cooking classes at a new Morrison account. He was joined by two RD’s and together they provided participants with professional guidance on healthful cooking techniques, nutrition and wellness information along with memorable meals that foster healthier lifestyles.

Another great example comes from Corporate Executive Chef Norbert Bomm. In anticipation of Valentine’s Day and an attempt to cheer up those who are spending it in the confines of a hospital, Chef Norbert created a luscious Chocolate Truffle Cake to delight patients and café patrons alike. Think of the unexpected delight pediatric patients, mothers in labor and delivery, non-restricted diet patients and the many caregivers will experience when they enjoy this delicious dessert! Chef Norbert is a celebrated Chef who challenges the status quo by asking “why not?” and using the Power of Food to celebrate special occasions. He was recruited to Morrison after honing his skills in a world-class international establishment as Chef de Cuisine and Executive Chef with Hilton International. He also brings extensive international experience from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America.

Successful commercial restaurants anticipate the needs of their guests and offer memorable, positive service experiences. It’s the hospitality mindset embedded in restaurant/hotel trained Chefs like Chef Paul and Chef Norbert that will continue to accelerate the needed change in hospital food.

I encourage you to give these two great recipes from these two great Chefs a try; Chef Paul Ruszat’s Orange Roasted Beet Salad and Chef Norbert Bomm’s Valentine Chocolate Truffle Cakes. We’ve made these detailed recipe cards available for quick download below.

Chef Cary Neff, Vice President of Culinary Services, Morrison Healthcare


Chef Paul Ruszat, Executive Chef at CentraCare St. Cloud Hospital and Regional Executive Chef for Steinberg Region, has been with Morrison for almost 6 years.

He graduated from the Commercial Cooking/ Culinary Arts program at the St. Cloud Area Technical and Community College and still maintains close ties as a member of the program’s advisory board.

Chef Paul started his career in local supper clubs and soon moved on to hotel dining working in the Holiday Inn and Radisson corporations. During his tenure as Executive Chef at the Radisson Suites Hotel in St. Cloud MN, the hotel was awarded a Mobile 4 diamond award for excellence in hospitality and food. He spent the next 10 years working in Higher Education dining at St. Cloud State University, St. John’s University and The College of St. Benedict. During his time at The College of St. Benedict the team planned and completed a 13 million dollar student dining and catering facility.

Chef Paul is an avid farmer’s market shopper that loves using different techniques such as sous vide and smoking to let the ingredients shine.


Chef Norbert Bomm, Corporate Executive Chef started with Morrison in Chicago as Executive Chef and then moved to Atlanta as the Corporate Chef of R&D, where he led the Great Living and Children’s Hospital menu concept and worked with retail recipe development.

Chef Bomm entered the culinary world in Hamburg, Germany and from there carved an international career for himself as Chef de Cuisine and Executive Chef with Hilton International. This propelled him into a kaleidoscope of posts in four continents: Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Americas. Bestowed with multiple honors and awards, as well as, the gold medal for the Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany; he actively exploits his own talents for the benefit of charity and has raised significant dollars doing so.

Before joining Morrison, he was for ten years the leading culinary force at the prestigious Fairmont Hotel in Chicago and the DIRONA award winning restaurant Entre Nous, one of the top three rated restaurants in Chicago.

Chef Bomm, has a very simple food philosophy: using fresh wholesome seasonal ingredients, thoughtfully prepared foods that reduce the intake of excessive fat, calories and sodium; while delivering high quality meals with satisfying flavor and solid nutritional values. He owns approximately 170 cook books, loves everything about food, cooking and food photography.

His food blog http://www.norbertskitchen.com/ focuses on balance, preparing food that just happens to be healthy and isn’t too complicated. For him it’s important to create real food that is full of flavor, not too much, not too little, that’s what he calls perfection.