Having worked at my craft for over twenty years, I am confident in my knowledge base. That base is rooted in a career where diet and nutritional content took a secondary role to center of the plate, culinary innovation and profit margins. Whatever knowledge I had enjoyed prior to joining TCM was about to be tested. My first account at Jordan Valley Medical Center was an eye opening experience.
As a chef, the plate is a canvas. Construction of an entrée incorporates content and context. Color, texture, flavor and innovation are all considered in the creation of something delicious and beautiful. While each of these components are essential, crafting a plate in a health care setting adds, what I consider to be, the most important component: that the plate is a part of the healing process for our patients. This was a novel consideration for me. Admittedly, I initially paid little concern to the nutritionals, opting for my comfort level; to raise the culinary standard in the café. With great assistance from my kitchen cohorts, we attained a culinary experience that had been missing in the cafe. We introduced new grains such as: millet, quinoa, spelt, bulgur wheat, red lentils and many others to Jordan Valley. At first, these items were met with skepticism; however, free samples go a long way to opening up one’s taste buds.
As great a job as we were doing in the café, I had not addressed my primary objective, which was to apply the same level of excellence to the patient dining experience. In part, my failure to address the nutritional and healthy side of menu design was based on the intimidation of building a menu featuring the content of ingredients over the context of the design.
It is the content that matters! That lesson continues to gain clarity as I work on creating menus that reflect the primary goal of being part of the healing process, while providing tasty cuisine for all who dine with us. This is a new challenge that helps me strive towards excellence. It also speaks to a commitment that TCM has made to being the best in our field. Moreover, that desire to achieve excellence runs counter to the predominant business model that speaks for short term profitability over sustainability, context over content. Eschewing such ideology outright, TCM’s business model stands as a benchmark of rational proprietorship. That model is enhanced and secured by a future that focuses on healing. Again, content over context in menu planning - and in life itself!