Gourmet Cuisine... At the Hospital!

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Sesame crusted tuna salad... chicken asiago stir fry... Many hospitals are trading bland meals for gourmet menus and finding it's good for business.

Volunteer TV's Jessa Goddard has the details.

Executive Chef Joseph Wade demonstrated how to prepare one of his signature featured entrees.

But it's not a special at a four-star restaurant, it's one of the many dishes on the menu at the Allspice Cafe at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.

They're one of thousands of hospitals nationwide in the midst of a culinary revolution.

"Well, in the last five years, I'd say the emphasis has gone from homestyle cooking to more innovative new wave cuisine, using fresh ingredients, local farmers," said Wade.

At Parkwest Medical Center's Boulevard Bistro, it's a similar diagnosis, better food equals better recovery.

When patients eat well, they heal better.

But, this gourmet cuisine is being held to a higher standard.

The dishes should not only taste good, they should be good for you, too.

"In the last six, seven years, we've really made an effort to move toward hiring more culinary trained chefs," said regional Director of Culinary Richard Lewis.

He says hospital cuisine is competing with restaurant fare.

From room service to valet parking.

But, unlike a restaurant, hospitals don't depend on their menu for profit.

"They're here at the hospital, you can't leave the hospital in a half hour, go to another restaurant, eat and come back. Some have to keep it very affordable, so our guests can come here everyday," said Lewis.

With meals made to order, there's little waste, so hospitals are able to keep costs low.

And while that won't cure you, it can make you feel better about your hospital stay.

Not all menu choices are designated as healthy options.

Those are in a category called "Balance Choice," containing less sodium or less fat than some of the other menu options.

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