Chef Joe Kraft’s story begins in his grandmother’s kitchen. “Everything in that kitchen was prepared with love,” says Kraft.
Great food brings people, communities, and cultures together. Kraft, as the Senior Corporate Executive Chef of Morrison Healthcare, takes his gift for creating great meals a step further. Food also has a special power, to energize, heal and comfort.
Just as his grandmother brought the family together over fresh pasta, Kraft’s work brings comfort and care to the patients, families, and caregivers in the 650-plus hospitals and health systems across the country.
“The real power of food comes through when you combine nutrition with that personal experience that we all crave when we sit down to a meal,” Kraft explains “Our culinary team knows that every day is an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. That’s what makes our work so special.”
That difference goes beyond the plate. Morrison Senior Vice President Karla Lux talks about what happened during a recent large health system opening when Kraft ran into the daughter of a patient when he was dropping off laundry at his hotel. She shared that she was nervous because she had to return home to Kansas, to take care of her children.
“That afternoon, [Chef Kraft] tracked down father’s order, placed his business card on the tray, and made sure the Morrison associate knew their story,” remembers Lux. “He offered support for the family’s questions and concerns about food and nutrition—giving them more confidence and control in a challenging situation. This is exactly how we want all of our associates to live the Morrison culture.”
“You never know what people are going through,” explains Kraft. “Anything we can do to help them feel a bit more certainty and comfort goes a long way. Every single member of the culinary team has a deep understanding that their work is powerful—not just for the patients and their families, but the caregivers in the hospitals we serve as well.”
In the 14 years that Kraft has worked with Morrison, he has participated in transitioning 74 hospitals and systems to healthier, delicious cuisine that challenges our ideas and expectations of “hospital food.” And, more importantly, hospital culture.
“No matter where you go, or who you speak within our hospitals and health systems, every decision made for the business begins with meeting the needs of the patient.”
“When that’s your starting point,” continues Kraft, “the small changes—from recipes to sourcing produce locally—become much easier for the culinary team to take on.”
Today, Morrison’s culinary team is focused on providing consistent processes and techniques in accounts across the nation. Like every kitchen in the country, each city has a preference for different cuisines and traditions. Chef Joe Kraft and the Morrison team go the extra mile to know the difference. All the while, they are making sure every dish is delicious and healthy. Because at the end of the day, they are guided by a culture where the patient comes first.