Cura has taken over all Allegheny Healthcare Network (AHN) hospitals for management of all cafes and patient dining. That includes Wexford Hospital, where patient feeding began at the end of September with over 250 patient trays, 18 new parent in-room celebration meals and half a dozen take-home meals for new parents. Wexford Hospital’s retail café opened the second week of September, and by the end of the month, sales quickly climbed past $65,000, with a customer count of over 10,000. The average check was $6.19.
Chef Chris Culp’s previous job was feeding the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins. From there, he has skated over to Cura’s team at the new hospital, starting things off on a positive note, according to Jennifer Riley, Cura food service director at Wexford. “Chef Chris brings a unique experience as he prepared culturally diverse foods for players from around the globe,” Riley says.
Culp says while many of the hockey players came from faraway places like Russia and the Czech Republic, the common thread was always comfort food, something he’s bringing to his new gig.
He’s also bringing leadership skills developed in his previous life in the commercial restaurant world. “I missed leading a team, taking people to the next level…teaching them things,” Culp says.
Photo: For Oktoberfest at Wexford Hospital, Chef Christopher Culp was quick to dress up and set the mood for a fun, celebratory vibe.
Like so many other foodservice operations, the hospital is challenged by limited staffing. But the crew Culp has is the best, he says. “Those guys and girls are my backbone. We’re not fully staffed here, but they are the backbone of everything we do here.”
Culp has introduced a chef action station, where local chefs and food producers can be featured. Recently, the station hosted Monsoon Kitchen’s corporate chef, who prepared butter chicken, curry veggies, samosas and more. On the docket for collabs are local biscotti and candy makers, plus local farms and produce companies.
A program for new parents not only provides special in-room meals, but also take-home family style meal boxes for soon-to-be-overwhelmed-and-sleep-deprived parents of newborns.
“We’ve had a lot of new babies,” Culp says. “46 births already [at time of interview].” No doubt about it, babies—and business—are booming!