Hospital Food Will Be Forever Changed Chefs looking for a burgeoning opportunity can find it in hospitals By Alexandra Zendrian

But Chef Brian Sauer, Executive Chef at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, says that will no longer be the case as hospital cuisine is already in the process of evolving. Chef Sauer, a veteran of three-star New York City restaurants including Chanterelle, Gotham Bar & Grill, Gramercy Tavern and Le Bernardin, began his role at Northwell Health nearly six years ago. Although when he was first approached for this position Chef Sauer thought this was not where his career should be headed, after further consideration he recalled when his father was dying in a Florida hospital. A Navy veteran who enjoyed his daily meat and potatoes, “at the very end of his life, he was unable to enjoy a good meal and was miserable every day with his food,” Chef Sauer said. “That needed to change, and that opportunity was right in front of me. I figured with my culinary education and experience that just maybe I could make a difference in creating and serving delicious and nutritious food to an industry with a bad reputation for a long time.” Now, Chef Sauer visits patients regularly and enjoys getting feedback on South Shore’s menu. “Being able to directly impact a person’s care and aid in their recovery gives you a sense of satisfaction and gratitude for the work that doctors and nurses must feel,” he noted. “When a patient leaves here and tells me that our food rivals a hotel or restaurant that they have eaten at, it gives me such pride knowing how far we have come from that stigma of hospital food being inedible and just downright nasty.” hen you say the words “hospital food” to most people, it conjures up thoughts of cafeteria food that barely serves its purpose of ensuring someone is fed – gray mashed W potatoes, meat that looks and feels like a brick, et cetera. Given that, it would be easy to understand why high- profile, well-trained chefs would steer away from working in a hospital.

Brian Sauer, Executive Chef

Photo Credit: Northwell Health

Chef Sauer recently met two patients who had been in the hospital for four months. Knowing that anyone in the same place for that long -- let alone the location being a hospital -- would probably get bored of the menu, Chef Sauer treated both gentlemen to ordering off the hospital’s Café menu and requesting special meals. “I made them chicken wings on football Sundays so they felt a little bit normal and on Valentine’s Day we made our lovely couple a nice surf and turf romantic dinner so they would be able to spend some time together,” Chef Sauer recalled. “One of the gentlemen’s girlfriends gave me a huge hug while she was crying because she was so happy that we were taking such personal care of her love. It was very touching to experience that kind of emotion from a patient’s loved one for just doing what we do normally.”

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