Alas, there was no mention of wine pairings

Gobi dumplings followed by Cauliflower Steak Chana Masala, with a pineapple-peach-meringue combo for dessert. Lunch at Akbar in Garden City?

No, just a potential midday meal at one of your local Northwell Health hospitals – and top finisher at the fifth running of the health system’s Ultimate Chef Cooking Challenge.

cauliflower steakThe event, held at Glen Cove Hospital over the weekend, gathered culinary masters from 15 area facilities for an Iron Chef-styled showdown in which culinary teams were challenged to produce three courses of restaurant-quality goodness, but without the added high fat, calories or sodium. Chefs were paired with registered dieticians and interns to ensure that the meal did not top 700 calories, 15 grams of fat and 750 milligrams of sodium.

Teams were also given a “surprise protein” – halibut, shrimp, chicken, filet mignon or a vegetarian ingredient – around which to create four plates of each course: one for each of the three judges and one for presentation.

The winning team – Janisa Freysinet of North Shore University Hospital, Patricia Sobel of Northern Westchester Hosiptal and Russell Ficke of Syosset Hospital had never cooked together previously.

“The Ultimate Chef Challenge highlights how our chefs are able to inspire delicious and nutritious meals, not only for our patients but for ourselves,” said Robert E. Graham, director of integrative health and wellness at Northwell, and one of the competition’s judges. “We are investing in a culture of health and wellness in order to maintain a healthy work place and workforce and it starts with food,” he said, adding “improving our hospital food is good medicine.”

Sven Gierlinger, vice president and chief experience officer at Northwell Health – and a state-certified Bavarian chef – and Todd Daigneanult, an executive chef at Overlook Medical Center in New Jersey, completed the judging panel.

gobi dumplingsIn addition to the winning chef team, the judges recognized first-place winners by course and the vegetarian category:

  • First course:  Frank Imbrosciano, Huntington Hospital; “Vegetarian Asian Potsticker”
  • Second course:  Patrick Beirne, Southside Hospital; “Pan Seared Curried Tuna”
  • Third course:  Russell Ficke, Syosset Hospital; “Pineapple, Peaches and Meringues”
  • Vegetarian:  Patricia Sobel, Northern Westchester Hospital; “Cauliflower Steak Chana Masala”

“Health system chefs and staff create over 8 million meals annually for patients, staff and visitors, which is quite a feat,” said Michael Kiley, director of nutrition and food services at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, who organized the cook off  and served as the event’s emcee.

“In this competition, chefs can focus their creative talents on an original three-course meal, demonstrating that they can prepare appealing food that tastes delicious and is healthy.”


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