Oregon Chefs Take First Place in Healthcare Foodservice Culinary Competition

By Tamara Moore posted 08-23-2018 16:30


Oregon Chefs Take First Place in Healthcare Foodservice Culinary Competition
Winning dish is vegan ‘30th Street Corn Risotto’; Mystery ingredient Minnesota’s Surly craft beer

MINNEAPOLIS (August 23, 2018) — A team of chefs from Rogue Valley Manor in Medford, Oregon, took first place Wednesday evening in the annual Culinary Competition at the Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF) Annual Conference with a plant-based dish called 30th Street Corn Risotto. Winning chefs from Rogue Valley were Robert Navarrete, CEC, and Diane Menzie. 

Second place went to Antonio Sanchez and Moulay Hida of Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis. Richard Farmer and Michael Vetro, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, took third place.

“My hat is off to the winners and all the finalists in the Culinary Competition. They highlight the talent in self-operated healthcare foodservice departments,” said David Reeves, AHF president. “These competitors showed us what can be done when hospitals and long-term care facilities are committed to creating good food in-house while providing affordable and nutritious meals in the healthcare setting.” 

Self-operated departments are fully "in house," meaning the foodservice is managed by the healthcare facility's own staff. 

The finalists, teams from five hospitals and long-term care facilities, competed to create the best meal from original recipes, with judging on organization, culinary skills, taste and presentation. Setting the AHF event apart from other culinary competitions, meals had to be suitable to serve in the competitors’ facilities and meet cost and nutrition parameters — with food costs less than $8 per meal and no more than 700 calories, 23 grams of fat and 750 mg of sodium. 

Navarrete said his team’s winning dish was inspired by grilled Mexican street corn called elotes, which are served with crema, cotija cheese, and lots of spices. Menzie and he used a seaweed stock with avocado to make a crema-like sauce and pickled cauliflower and cilantro oil to get the cheese flavor from plant-based ingredients. The corn was topped with spices and garnished with fresh tomatoes and green onions.

“We had a great time,” Navarrete said of the contest. “We practiced a ton. We wanted to come here and enjoy the experience. It was super fun. It was phenomenal.” 

Just before the final competition, chefs received a “mystery ingredient” to incorporate into their meal. This year’s ingredient was a choice of a craft brew beer from the Minnesota-based craft brewery Surly Brewing Co. 

The winning team incorporated the ingredient into the risotto. The beer made the recipe not purely plant-based, but it complemented the flavors of the dish, Navarrete said.

Other finalists competing were:

  • Alan Hudalla and Sarah Martz, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center & Heartwood Senior Living, Crosby, Minnesota;
  • Cameryn Turner and Stephanie Gates, St. Charles Prineville, Prineville, Oregon.

About the 2018 Association for Healthcare Foodservice Annual Conference

The Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF) 2018 Annual Conference was scheduled in Minneapolis from August 21-24. The event includes stimulating keynotes, world-class educational sessions, AHF’s Marketplace Exhibit Hall, networking events, a culinary competition, special activities in its host city, and a service activity supporting the local Minneapolis community.

About Association for Healthcare Foodservice

The Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF) is the premier organization for self-operated healthcare food management professionals. AHF is governed by its members and exists to serve its members. The association is dedicated to keeping foodservice departments self-operated, in-house, and homemade. For more, visit HealthcareFoodservice.org.