The waves of food and refreshments sent to health care workers during the initial COVID-19 surge didn’t always make it to hospitalists, those who provide general medical care to hospitalized patients.
Through a series of events resulting from the pandemic, the Children’s Treehouse Foundation and nutrition services at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies helped make up for that: They presented the MCR hospitalist team a four-course, fine-dining lunch experience Tuesday in a basement conference room.
In a normal year, the foundation – a Colorado-based nonprofit supporting children who have a parent or grandparent with cancer – auctions the opportunity to have a professional hospital chef cook a meal for a winning bidder at their home. This year, given COVID-19 concerns, such a prize wasn’t as palatable.
Instead, the annual fundraising event auctioned a meal to front-line hospital workers. Executive Chef Billy Charters, who manages food services at MCR, Poudre Valley Hospital and Greeley Hospital, created a menu with courses inspired by a day’s worth of meals packed into an hour-long event to respect hospitalists work schedules.
- Breakfast: Eggs Florentine on toasted rye with tomato marmalade, poached egg and basil hollandaise.
- Lunch: Pork tenderloin nachos with roasted corn relish, goat cheese, charred serrano peppers and pickled red onions.
- Dinner: Surf n’ turf of beef tenderloin and sautéed crab with lemon butter, served over parsnip puree with asparagus.
- Dessert: White chocolate pistachio tartlets.
The hospitalists sat at well-spaced tables, sipping tea and water from wine glasses as masked servers presented the carefully-plated dishes.
“We decided to choose you because you miss out on a lot of the free food, and you’re very busy,” said Liz Hollowell, director of hospitality services.
As each course was served, Charters explained how the dish was inspired and prepared. Lisa Schwartz, nurse with the hospitalists team, complimented him on the hollandaise. Charters shared a little secret: Although hollandaise traditionally involves frequent stirring, he made this batch in a blender – an idea he embraced after learning Julia Child did it.
Schwartz said the dining experience was “amazing,” from flavors to presentation.
“This event is a special acknowledgement for the hospitalists team,” she said. “We would like to thank Chef Charters and his staff as we greatly appreciate the thought, detail and time spent preparing this luncheon.”
Denis Murray, executive director with the foundation, presented Charters with the Colorado Hospital Chef’s Challenge trophy. Again, circumstances are different this year: The fundraiser, previously a cook-off event at the Cielo at Castle Pines in Castle Rock, was instead hosted online via Zoom. Only Charters and a chef from St. Anthony Hospital participated, hosting a cook-along with roughly 125 participants who received the recipes in advance.
“The chefs have been terrific,” Murray said.
He said that because they both stepped up and made for a fun and successful event nonetheless, both chefs received trophies this year. The foundation raised $24,500 through the auction, similar to previous years, although down about $15,500 because of a lack of sponsorships.
This is the 19th anniversary of the organization and fourth annual chefs’ event. In 2019, Charters received the People’s Choice Award trophy.