Kitchen closing: Bring on the BBQ grill

Memorial Hospital to bring in food trucks, vendors to feed patients, employees
June 7th, 2016
Kristin Monnier, director of food and nutrition services at Memorial Hospital, stands in front of a ‘Grab and Go’ cart which will be stocked with food for employees and visitors during construction that will close the kitchen.

How does a juicy chicken sandwich smothered in mushrooms and Swiss cheese sound? Or a hot-off-the-grill hamburger smothered in blue cheese?

This summer, Memorial Hospital Central will sell specialty burgers and sandwiches at barbecues as a way to offer hot lunches for employees during a 10-week period that the main kitchen in the hospital is closed. While the kitchen is closed, the grill area in the café will not be available.

Two semis – trucks equipped with ovens, stoves, refrigerators, prep space and more – will be parked outside of inpatient oncology on the southwest side of the hospital beginning June 27, 2016 and will serve as the primary kitchen for preparation of patient food. The semis will be used to provide food for patient meals but not for employee lunches.

“Every patient meal will still receive delicious, highly-nutritious food, only we will prepare the food in a cooking facility that happens to be on wheels,’’ said Kristin Monnier, director of food and nutrition services at Memorial.

Darnell Watts, a chef at Memorial Hospital Central
Darnell Watts, a chef at Memorial Hospital Central, prepares a pizza in the hospital’s kitchen, which will close for up to 10 weeks at the beginning of July to allow for construction involving the installation of a new grease trap.

The two semis, which together measure 96 feet, will take three or four days to set up. Memorial has to bring in electric, plumbing, wastewater and data lines to get the trucks up and running before they are inspected by the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment.

Beginning July 7, chefs will begin providing patient meals – as many as 900 a day – from those trucks.

“Our priority is to continue providing great patient food during this process,’’ Monnier said. “We’re still providing patient room service and our goal is that patients do not see any difference.’’
Darnell Watts, a chef at Memorial Hospital Central, prepares a pizza in the hospital’s kitchen, which will close for up to 10 weeks at the beginning of July to allow for construction involving the installation of a new grease trap.
The café in the basement of the hospital will remain open, though food options will include sandwiches, pizza, salads, soups, snacks and drinks. At least once a week, a barbecue, food truck or some other creative food option will be available to offer a variety of food items at lunchtime for employees.

“We are adding a grab-and-go cooler at the café with some additional new food options,’’ Monnier said. “We want to make this fun. We’re planning the outdoor barbecues and inviting food trucks during lunch, so staff can come outside and get a meal that’s different from the usual café items. We’ll have this on the hospital side of the tennis courts, just outside the west entrance.

“And to kick it all off, when customers visit the first barbecue, we’ll ask them if they’d like to see the semi-trucks so they can get an idea of what this looks like, and the kind of environment we will be working in,’’ Monnier said.

Last November, Memorial began to work on a massive $2 million project to install a new 3,500-gallon grease trap to capture grease and solids. The project involves the removal and replacement of pipes and drains that lead from the kitchen to the exterior of the hospital on the east and west sides.

“Though a grease trap project is not that exciting, we are looking forward to having this work behind us. We’ll have a grand re-opening when the kitchen is completed – and maybe a few surprises,’’ Monnier said.

 

About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.