“Cooking Well at Mercy” is a video series that stars healthful cooking techniques and ingredients. It’s hosted by Chris Damiani, assistant foodservice director, Mercy Hospital, Buffalo, NY, filmed in front of a live audience and then shown to patients in the hospital rooms through closed-circuit TV.
Prior to coming to work at Mercy (Aramark), Damiani was a chef at Wegmans, the iconic supermarket chain known for great local food and lots of store cooking demos.
“That’s why I focus on the educational component of food,” he says. “A lot of what I like to teach people is healthy cooking techniques for vegetables: pan searing, steaming and roasting.”
Damiani also keeps the focus of his classes on speed: helping home cooks make a healthful dinner in 20 minutes or less at the end of a long weekday. A chef’s mindset can be helpful here: getting the mise en place set up for any meal is key, Damiani likes to emphasize.
The most recent episode of the show features gluten-free cooking and vegetables. He collaborated on the recipes with registered nurse Karen Calandra, who also appears on the show. Damiani creates a dish centered on spaghetti squash three ways: Gluten-free, vegetarian and with meat. The mise en place includes gluten-free pasta, Italian sausage, heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs, garlic, toasted pine nuts and marinara.