For the fourth year running, the Healthcare Food Administrator’s of Greater New York (HFAA) held the Big Apple Culinary Challenge in New York City in March. Four local hospitals competed: the incumbent, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, challenged by Maimonides Medical Center, Methodist Hospital and New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell.
“This event showcases culinary talent in the hospital kitchens in our area. Many chefs work behind the scenes, so this event allows them to show off their creative skills in front of an enthusiastic audience,” says Veronica McLymont, PhD, RD, CDN, director of food and nutrition services, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.
A wide cross section of foodservice operators, HFAA members, business partners and supporters attended to see the heated competition.
Mystery items for the teams turned out to be basic proteins: steak, salmon and chicken. But what the chefs created with those items was anything but basic.
The New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell team won the competition. The team started by creating a tropical-tinged appetizer to start: Oven Smoked Salmon served with a citrus-avocado cream and pineapple that had been marinated in orange.
Next came a steak and mushroom salad with more bright, citrusy flavors: carmelized mango and grapes marinated in a citrus vinaigrette. The entrée was a simply Frenched and roasted chicken breast with a sun-dried cranberry relish and potato parmesan “tower.”
“The use of the grapes in that salad was a big surprise,” McLymont says. “They juiced the grapes and incorporated them into the sauce.” The steak salad seemed to be a favorite among judges, as it “did look like a salad; the steak was not overwhelming,” she adds.
The event, sponsored by US Foods, Greater New York Hospital Association and New York Presbyterian Hosptial/Cornell Weill, was judged by Pnina Peled, Executive Chef Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Nic Cortes, Executive Chef, US Foods; and Mike Miello, Executive Chef, US Foods-Metro New York.
McLymont says she hopes events like these can change “the old perception of hospital food.”