5 recipe contest finalists revealed

Health Care Culinary Contest winner to be announced, meal served at CleanMed

Hospitals from across the country submitted their best delicious and healthy recipes to the Health Care Culinary Contest. Entrants embodied the less meat, better meat philosophy, highlighted local and sustainable sourcing stories, and engaged a clinician sponsor to source and serve a meal that is healthy for people and the planet.

Chefs and students from the Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central College put the top recipes to the test. The recipes were judged for flavor (compilation and balance of ingredients) and how the recipe appealed to the senses. The judges also considered aspects important to health care food service such as ease of execution, availability of ingredients, and nutritional and taste appropriateness for patients and patrons.

Five finalists rose to the top:

  • Lehigh Valley Health Network’s turkey grain bowl
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s red dahl
  • Norton Healthcare’s miso noodle and veggie bowl
  • University of Wisconsin Health’s jackfruit teriyaki
  • Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital’s butternut squash enchiladas
Chefs and students from the Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central College judge the contest recipes (Kaeleigh Sheehan).

Some meals incorporate sustainable meats, poultry, and seafood. Others center around plants high in protein and fruits and vegetables. All of the successful meals in the contest demonstrate a connection between healthy meals and good health outcomes.

Taste the winning meal

The Health Care Culinary Contest winner will be announced at CleanMed San Diego, where you can also taste the winning recipe. Join us at the Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Awards Gala on May 9 to meet our winning chef and enjoy this delicious meal.

Lehigh Valley Health Network’s turkey grain bowl

Turkey bowl with carnival squash, kale, and spelt berry grains (Lehigh Valley Health Network/ Kaeleigh Sheehan / Lehigh Valley Health Network).
“Our customers understand the importance of local and sustainable programs and are increasingly demanding this level of quality in the products they consume as patients, visitors, or faculty in these institutions. I pride myself in working to deliver on those demands.”
— Michael Brack, Lehigh Valley Health Network executive chef


Lehigh Valley Health Network, Allentown, Penn.


Michael Brack

Clinician sponsor

Dr. Kimberly Procaccino, director of clinical nutrition and registered dietitian

Chef Michael Brack and clinician sponsor, Kimberly Procaccino (Lehigh Valley Health Network).

What makes your ingredients great?

We sourced our turkey breast, which was raised without routine antibiotics, from Common Market in Tamaqua, Penn. Many of our other ingredients came from local farms such as Mountainside Farm in Kinzers (carrots), Kastle Valley Mill in Doylestown (spelt berries), and Rising Sun Organics in Mount Joy (carnival squash).

Spelt is a grain that is closely related to wheat. It has been cultivated by for 8,000 years. Its sweet and nutty taste along with its nutrient density make spelt my favorite grain to eat. Spelt also has agricultural benefits as it produces higher yields with less fertilizer than wheat.

Turkey grain bowl ingredients and taste testing on Food Day (Lehigh Valley Health Network)

How did you feature the recipe?

Dr. Procaccino taste-tested the recipe and was available in the cafeteria the day the recipe was served. She also communicated the value of ingredients raised without antibiotics and participating in the contest to administration and patrons.

Closing thoughts?

I have been purchasing local and sustainable ingredients and serving them for several years. I serve similar dishes on a consistent basis, and my customers and clients are very receptive this type of cuisine.

“The Hippocratic Oath has become such a big part of the mantra for my team. We always close our meetings by me asking ‘food is?’ and the team answering “medicine!’”
— Michael Brack

Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s red dahl

Red dahl with preserved lemon, sweet potatoes, and Thai basil (Northwestern Memorial Hospital).
“Growing demand for vegetarian dishes from patients made it easy to tell the story of this meal.”
— Norbert Bomm, Northwestern Memorial Hospital executive chef


Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Ill.


Norbert Bomm

Clinician sponsor

Rebecca Illic, clinical nutrition manager

What’s great about your ingredients?

All of our ingredients are certified organic and were sourced from regional farms. The sweet potatoes and spinach, for example, came from Parrfection produce in Monticello, Wis., and the Fresno peppers are from Garwood Farms in La Porte, Ind.

Chef Norbert Bomm holds his recipe contest submission. / Clinicians taste test the meal. (Northwestern Memorial Hospital)

How did you feature the recipe?

We included signs in the café with high-resolution pictures of the meal along with a display of the actual food in a bowl. We distributed samples of the dahl to patrons and included marketing on patient trays. In addition, we spoke to patrons about the meal in our diet office.

Closing thoughts?

I have 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. The red dahl achieves all of these goals.

Norton Healthcare’s miso noodle bowl

Miso noodle and vegetable bowl with carrots, celery, shiitaki mushrooms, and kombu (Norton Healthcare).
“We have been focusing on our food culture for some time. This event flowed well into our movement… an amazing continuation of our work here when it comes to providing healthier, more sustainable food for our employees, patients, and guests.”
— Erin Wiedmar, Norton Healthcare clinical nutritionist


Norton Healthcare, Louisville Ky.


Clay Cundiff

Clinician sponsor

Dr. Joseph Flynn

What makes your ingredients great?

Nearly all of our ingredients were USDA certified organic and as many as possible were sourced from Kentucky farms, such as our shitake mushrooms from Sheltowee Farm and our sweet potatoes from Amish Fleming County Organic Co-op.

Norton Healthcare chef cooks recipe contest submission (Norton Healthcare)

How did you feature the recipe?

We hosted a tasting event at the Norton Brownsboro Hospital cafes. Employees, patients, and guests were invited to stop by the café to sample the recipe. The event was advertised via our intranet, enewsletter, and by email.

Our clinical sponsor, Dr. Joseph Flynn, as well as the employee wellness dietitian, Erin Wiedmar, were present to discuss the health benefits, as well as the sustainability message of the dish. We also announced our submission to the competition via the Norton Healthcare Facebook page.

The dish is now offered at the Norton Brownsboro location every third Friday and featured at the Norton Cancer Institute.

Clinician and chef showcase dish (Norton Healthcare).

Closing thoughts?

Connecting with our clinical sponsor at the Norton Cancer Institute, Dr. Joseph Flynn, was easy as he was immediately on board with the event’s message. It was also easy to get chefs on board with developing a plant-based, sustainable recipe.

Between May and October we are able to secure local produce without much inconvenience. With our demands growing outside of these months, we have worked closely with farmers to ensure produce between November and April. Year after year we hope this process becomes easier as farmers feel more secure in our purchasing capacities.

University of Wisconsin Health’s jackfruit teriyaki

Jackfruit teriyaki with brown rice, broccoli, carrot, kale, cucumber, pineapple, and toasted sesame seeds (University of Wisconsin Health).
“We realize that customer and department staff education is an important component when introducing a new menu item. Having our staff try the jackfruit helped them to share their insights and opinions with customers when asked about the meal. It’s been a positive learning experience for both our staff and customers.”
— Lisa Bote, University of Wisconsin Health sous chef


University of Wisconsin Health, Madison, Wis.


Lisa Boté, sous chef, and Ellen Ritter, executive chef

Clinician sponsor

Megan Waltz, registered dietitian

Lisa Boté, sous chef, and Ellen Ritter, executive chef (University of Wisconsin Health)

What makes your ingredients great?

Jackfruit is a high-fiber meat alternative that takes on the flavors of what it is cooked with. It is a sustainable crop grown in India and other Southeast Asian countries. We use Naked Jackfruit from The Jackfruit Company. This product is fully cooked and requires no refrigeration.

We purchase locally grown vegetables and fruits from area farmers during the growing season. We work with the same farmers to source cellared and stored crops in the non-harvesting months. These crops include cabbage, winter squash, root vegetables, and sweet potatoes.

How did you feature the recipe?

We have been serving jackfruit in our retail operations since July 2017 and currently serve jackfruit teriyaki on our 500-calorie menu rotation. We offer jackfruit as a vegan option in Four Lakes Café, our largest retail outlet serving 5,500 customers daily.

We held several jackfruit tasting demos, posted about jackfruit teriyaki on our Facebook page, and have signs in the café.

People enjoy and share the recipe (University of Wisconsin Health)

Closing thoughts?

The most challenging piece for us is introducing a new menu item that is unfamiliar to our customers. We find that when introducing a new menu item like jackfruit, a tasting demo is always beneficial. It allows our customers to try something they haven’t tasted before without committing to a full plate, and it allows us 10 to 30 seconds to share about and promote the new item.

Working with the farmers, Rufus at Keewaydin Farms and Eric at Elderberry Hill Farm, was the easiest part of procuring our vegetables. We work with Madison-based REAP (Research, Education, Action, and Policy) Food Group. Their mission is to connect producers, consumers, businesses, and organizations to grow a healthful, just, and sustainable local food system in Southern Wisconsin. The food group connected us with Rufus and Eric in the fall of 2016 when we decided that we wanted to source local cabbage and root vegetables to use in the winter of 2017 for our Harvest of the Month initiative, which features a local, seasonal vegetable or fruit each month. We’ve been sourcing from both farmers for more than a year now, and the relationship has been beneficial for all of us.

Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital’s butternut squash enchiladas

Charred butternut squash enchilladas with black bean and kale filling (Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital)
The most challenging part of promoting the recipe is getting customers to realize that plant-based recipes can be comfort foods as well. However, the feedback was very positive once they tasted it.”
— Jason Patel, Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital executive chef


Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital, Yakima, Wash.


Jason B. Patel

Clinician sponsor

Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster

Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster and Chef Jason Patel (Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital)

What makes your ingredients great?

We wanted to make sure we highlighted local, sustainable ingredients grown in our Virginia Mason Memorial’s onsite cafe garden and supplement additional ingredients from our lower valley’s Imperial’s Garden, a family-owned-and-operated produce company in Wapato, Wash. With the fall harvest of our butternut squash and baby kale, we wanted to make an authentic Mexican dish that showcases our diverse community.

How did you feature the recipe?

We hosted Food Day in the Virginia Mason Memorial Cafe. We featured the recipe and promoted it the whole month of October on table tents throughout the cafe and in our weekly emails to employees. We featured a video promoted by our physician champion, who talked about the entree. And we promoted it via our social media channels.

Dr. Yami taste-tested the recipe. She co-wrote education materials about it and helped communicate the value of participating in the contest to administration. She and I also recorded a video and shared it on her Facebook pages, Nourish Wellness and Veggie Fitkids.

Closing thoughts?

Dr. Yami and I have worked together on plant-based menu ideas for the café, Early Learning Center, physician catering events, and other hospital-sponsored events. She is the best.

Watch Chef Jason Patel and Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster discuss bringing their culinary and clinical skills to the table, collaborating to create mouthwatering plant-based recipes.

Thank you to contest sponsors Compass/Food Buy and Sysco.