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Chef/Dietitian Teams Compete in CURA Culinary Challenge

Event is first of a planned annual event designed to encourage cooperation between disciplines.

Three Cura Hospitality teams of chefs and dietitians competed in the first RD/Chef Challenge held at Messiah Village in Mechancsburg, PA, in Fall 2013.

"My goal for the Cura clinical team is for us to become more aware of food, cooking techniques, and industry trends" says said Janet Schuch, MBA, RD, LDN, Cura director of nutrition, wellness and clinical compliance. "We tend to be so clinically focused and don¹t take the time to stay in tune to what the culinary world can to do to enhance flavor in a healthy way."

The chefs also learned a thing or two as the dietitians were able to help them better understand nutritional guidelines and how the use of spices can infuse flavor.

The morning session of the meeting prepared RDs for the challenge as they learned tricks of the trade from Executive Chefs Rich Costanza of Washington (PA) Hospital and James Gray of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. The dietitians were trained in basic food preparation techniques such as knife/cutting skills, braising, sautéing, and creating five mother sauces.

Teams then competed using the techniques they learned, creating and presenting menu items from a market basket filled with fruits, vegetables, spices, proteins and various staple cooking ingredients. Teams had a little over an hour to prepare a three-course meal featuring an entrée and two accompaniments with only an outside grill, induction burners and sauté pans.

The panel of judges included Cura President Mitch Possinger; Andrea Barnes, MS, RD, CSG, LDN, clinical nutrition manager for Phoebe Allentown and Richland Healthcare Centers; John Kopyar, general manager at the Lutheran Community at Telford; and Chris Fitz, director of retail and culinary services.

"As we continue to grow, I hope that our team becomes inspired to bring the culinary and clinical world together so we can think 'outside the box,' enhancing life around great food for our patients, residents and guests," says Schuch.

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