Aatul Jain and Joanne McMillian of Saint Clare Health System prepare their winning dish at the 2014 AHF Culinary Competition in Orlando

Aatul Jain and Joanne McMillian of Saint Clare Health System prepare their winning dish at the 2014 AHF Culinary Competition in Orlando.

Finally! Aatul Jain, Saint Clare Win AHF Culinary Competition; Oliver Earns Lifetime Achievement

Since leaving the commercial world of cooking and a job with a contract management company three years ago, Aatul Jain has been busy changing the way hospital food is perceived at not just Saint Clare Health System in Denville, NJ, but nationally.

After making the top five of the Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF) Culinary Competition the last two years, the chef and retail operations manager and his director, Joanne McMillian, led Saint Clare to first place in this year’s competition at the fifth annual AHF Annual Conference in Orlando.

Their Bodacious Beans and Bass dish won the contest that required the teams to use Basic American Foods' Santiago Smart Services Lowfat Vegetarian Refried Beans with Whole Beans or Santiago Seasoned Vegetarian Black Beans and then passion fruit, a late addition mystery ingredient.

“As a chef, my objective is to transform hospital food into healthcare cuisine and ensuring that the taste is there,” said Jain, who also last year took second on an episode of Chopped, the popular Food Network show.

Chef Manager Robyn Butsko and Banquet Chef Bryan Boatman of Orlando’s Florida Hospital 
took second place in the AHF event with Santiago Bean Dusted Aged Filet served with a Crispy Sweet Potato & Cuban Bean Stuffed Pepper. Steven Bressler, retail services manager, and John Graziano, executive chef, took third for The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ, with Lemongrass Poached Mahi over a Black Bean Quinoa Cake, Jicama Grapefruit Avocado Salad, Refried Bean Crisp and a Salsa Verde.

The competition took place at Rosen Shingle Creek, host of AHF’s annual conference that attracted almost 600 attendees from 185 operator facilities and 109 exhibitors. Sixty-seven first-time operators attended, said outgoing AHF president Laura Watson of Intermountain Healthcare. Incoming president Lisette Coston of Saint Francis Health System in Tulsa, OK, officially steps into the role later this summer. Next year’s event will in Salt Lake City.

Also, Patti Oliver, director of nutrition at UCLA Health, was honored with AHF's Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to healthcare foodservice. She's been at UCLA since 1999, leading a system that serves more than 3.4 million meals a year at two hospitals. She's also served on the AHF and legacy association board of directors since 2007.

“Patti runs an outstanding program, dedication to continuous improvements in both the patient and retail dietary programs,” said Paul Watkins, chief administrative officer at UCLA Health. "Her patient and customer satisfaction scores remain extremely high. Patti’s operation is truly second to none.”

Dick Hynes, director of consultant services and healthcare for Hobart Corp., was honored with the 2014 AHF Making a Difference Award. Hynes has worked 46 years with Hobart and served on AHF and legacy committees for more than a quarter century.