By: Cary Neff, Vice President of Culinary
This week we’ve had the privilege of celebrating our chefs. While Chef Appreciation Week is an annual celebration, every single day our chefs show up to share the Power of Food with patients, guests, and staff at the hospitals in which we serve. Their dedication and leadership across several areas make me proud to work here.
Do you want to know the greatest joy I get from my job? Hearing stories like these.
As part of Patient Experience Week at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore Medical Center, chef Patrick Heller walked the floors and visited 120 patients in a single week. To make their stay special, he baked and delivered homemade pineapple upside down cakes in regular, sugar-free and puree forms to accommodate patients following various diets. After making his rounds, chef Heller went back to the kitchen and made fresh soup for patients who didn’t care for their first bowl.
Here’s another one: at Bayshore Medical Center, chef Daniel Borza oversees a program that has two cooks following a patient from hospital admission through discharge. During the patient’s stay, the cooks would find out the kind of food the patient prefers and create menu items that are approved by the chef. Then, they would surprise the patient with a special meal – one he or she would never expect to get in a hospital setting.
Patients were so grateful for the care they received that in one instance, a patient’s husband told us he felt our food contributed to her recovery. One of the cooks, Joe Leroy, has even received his hospital’s special recognition for his excellent service.
These two stories demonstrate how we impact our patients’ lives. They show how our Culinary excellence at Morrison all starts with a chef’s passion for food and desire to inspire others. In the nine years that I headed our Culinary team, I’ve helped hire and promote a few hundred chefs. Back then, we had approximately 400 chefs at Morrison. Nearly a decade later, we have roughly double that number.
Our growth hasn’t slowed our Culinary team’s ability to lead the healthcare industry in creating exceptional patient experiences. Here’s why: we don’t hire people who merely meet job requirements; we employ extraordinary individuals who share our belief in the Power of Food.
Morrison chefs possess a strong passion for food, eagerness to inspire and train others and most importantly, a personal conviction to redefine healthcare foodservice. We are a family of culinarians with winning attitudes and a passion for delivering an experience that transforms guests from customers to what we call raving fans.
Raving fans are what we aim for. Our team wins more and more daily by inspiring and delighting the people they serve. At Morrison, we’re fortunate to be given all the tools, resources and support necessary to improve our performance; yet our people are the real ingredient to our success.
Once we’ve attracted the best talent, we dedicate ourselves to each chef’s growth and development. We created a Culinary talent development plan several years ago and haven’t wavered in our resolve. We insist that each chef complete written and practical chef tests, earn Culinary and Nutrition Certification and outline an aggressive yet achievable development plan.
New hires receive coaching and complete the Morrison Culinary Certification Program within 12 months of hire. Contrary to chefs in the restaurant industry, Morrison chefs are provided a clear career progression path. Between advancement coaches and mentors, our chefs are surrounded by people who are committed to helping them reach their goals and grow within our organization.
Over the past decade, this investment in chefs has helped us make significant progress in redefining hospital food. We earned the recognition as the industry leader and national publications recognize the achievements of our chefs each week, applauding their focus to make great tasting, good-for-you food.
Our chefs are also winning recognition from our peers. A good example is chef Norbert Bomm, the recent winner of the Health Care Culinary Contest for his Almost Authentic Red Dahl recipe, which beat out nearly 50 other submissions. The contest promoted the “Less Meat, Better Meat” philosophy. All entries were required to utilize either plant-based or less-meat strategies.
With a new group of young, talented and visionary chefs prepared to help move the company and the industry forward, our future is bright.
Our chefs are also taking on some of the food industry’s toughest issues such as food waste. Earlier this year, I charged Executive Chef Justin Newgaard with developing a plan to do just that: tackle food waste. Our Stop Food Waste “At the Source Challenge” helps our chefs pay attention and focus on what they can do to reduce waste at work and at home. Justin is also working closely with Lisa Roberson, Morrison’s Director of Wellness and Sustainability, to reduce the amount of red meat we produce.
Additionally, our teaching kitchens and teaching gardens are playing vital roles in stopping food waste. Through these programs, Morrison chefs and dietitians team up to educate and excite people around the value of whole food, and provide helpful tips for reducing food waste at home like using an entire vegetable from root to stem. A close second is our chefs using their Stop Food Waste scrap vegetable buckets to make fresh vegetable stocks each day.
Finally, our chefs are leading the way in humanitarian issues that affect our food supply: the problem of modern day slavery and the fight for fair food. Historically, farm work has been one of the lowest paying jobs in the country. In fact, ninety percent of winter tomatoes are grown in Florida where it has become commonplace for tomato farmers to be subject to wage theft, sexual violence, and forced labor in some regions.
I, however, remain hopeful because of partnerships like the one between the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Morrison and Compass Group. Each is committed to rewriting history through initiatives like the Fair Food Program (FFP).
Due to the work of the CIW, conditions are now improving. CIW staff visit the farms and other properties and hold mandatory education sessions for all employees. All workers receive booklets that outline their rights and a hotline to call if they experience violations.
Farmworkers work tirelessly to harvest our food – the tool we use to connect, comfort, restore and rejuvenate patients, guests, and staff at the hospitals in which we serve. Because our chefs play a crucial part in sourcing, purchasing and preparing food, they’re precisely positioned to take action by learning more, speaking up and, demanding IFW Florida tomatoes and other fair-trade products.
I’m so grateful for the leadership our culinary team demonstrates in the areas of patient experience, chef development, sustainability and human rights. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Let’s keep making raving fans!
The success of Morrison and Compass Group is founded on delicious food and the great people who make it. Compass Group is the world’s largest employer of chefs, making our culinary talent the Heart of the House.
This August we will celebrate Chef Appreciation Week (August 13-17) to recognize the incredible people behind the food. Join us in celebrating them by posting why you #LoveYourChef on social media.
Looking for meaningful work helping people? Do you want to marry your passions and serving others? Check out available team member or management opportunities to join the Compass One Healthcare and Morrison Healthcare family. We believe in the Power of Food to change lives and are proud of the opportunities we have each day to help people and serve alongside world-class clients.
Morrison is a proud part of Compass One Healthcare and Compass Group USA.