The Heartwarming Effect Of Gourmet Food In Hospitals

Hospital food is notorious for being underwhelming at best and inedible at worst. Though the quality of hospital food varies by hospital, the consensus seems to be that meals served to hospital patients are usually unappetizing (via The Guardian). According to otolaryngology resident Benjamin Ostrander on Op-Med, you can think of hospital food as ultra-processed, packed with sugar, and lacking in flavor.

The lackluster quality of hospital meals is a problem, especially since, according to a study in the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, a third of hospital patients are at a high risk of malnutrition, which can lead to a slew of additional health problems for an already vulnerable group. Fortunately, a new day is dawning regarding hospital cuisine, with more medical facilities hiring executive chefs to make healthy and tasty food (via HuffPost). Enter Chef Bruno Tison, a Michelin-star chef who has made headlines for his pivot to fine dining and gourmet hospital food, per Northwell Health

Hospital food can surprisingly be gourmet

For most people, the concept of gourmet hospital food is an oxymoron. After all, the word 'gourmet' often evokes images of classically-trained chefs, artfully-plated meals, and high-quality ingredients (via More Than Gourmet.) That said, it turns out that gourmet food is possible in a hospital setting after all. Chef Bruno Tison, who has been working as the executive chef at Northwell Health in New York City since 2017, is proving that quality food can even be produced on a massive scale.

Chef Tison works with a large team of cooks and hospital dieticians to develop nutritious meals, many of which are seasonal (via YouTube). The hospital even has its own garden, which grows fresh produce like tomatoes and herbs for use in the hospital's kitchen. Under Chef Tison's watch, patients can expect gourmet renditions of from-scratch mashed potatoes, freshly-caught salmon, and healthy tostadas. 

Gourmet hospital food is more likely to be heart-healthy, but it's also proven to be heartwarming. Across the country at UC Davis Medical Center, Chef Santana Diaz is providing over 71,000 farm-to-table meals to patients, staff, and visitors, per HuffPost. Fresh, appetizing food clearly means a lot to the hospital's patients, who have purportedly gone out of their way to personally thank Diaz and his culinary team for their work. Hopefully, more hospitals will get on board with adding a touch of humanity to the hospital dining experience.