Creating the HHS Cookbook: Interview with Marta Hernandez
HHS is currently developing the first ever company cookbook. We sat down with HHS Culinary Vice President Marta Hernandez to learn more.
Tell us about the HHS cookbook that you’re working on.
This is an exciting project. All year long we ask our chefs to contribute recipes and for our dietitians to share nutritional information for our monthly HHSU training packets, and they are kind enough to send some really terrific recipes and excellent information. As we’re collecting more and more, we decided that it would be a good idea to put it all together in one place and share it with everyone—both HHS employees and customers. We had a committee that combed through and selected the recipes that best fit with the goals of the book, and then Chef Frank Boerdner, Chef Peter Tseng, me, and members of the marketing team got together to test the recipes and get some great photos. We’re so excited to put out this book.
What is the goal of the cookbook?
I think the goal is to put the HHS name out there and show folks that we are a force to contend with. It’s not just the big companies anymore—we have some really exceptional talent within our ranks. We want others to be aware of who we are, what we do, and the food we make. Another reason is to demonstrate, yet again, that hospital food can be exciting and nutritious and kind of hip, for lack of better word. So hopefully it will inspire some of our chefs to do interesting things, and educate our customers on the possibilities of what we can do. The book contains food that guests will find our chefs serving in their kitchens in our accounts across the country. There’s nothing that we made for the cookbook that we couldn’t do somewhere in our units—whether that’s in our cafeteria, for patients, or for catering events. It’s a big world out there and there’s a lot of great stuff we can do, so we should be sharing that with clients and customers.
I really want to encourage our culinary team to continue to move forward with their food skills, presentation, and education, and I believe this book will help them to do just that. We need to make sure we always take pride in what we do, and make sure every meal we serve is as delicious and nutritious as possible. Don’t take shortcuts, because it shows in the final product, and that’s not who we are. The team should use this book and Sage Wisdom [HHS’ internal social network for chefs] to get ideas, or call up some of the senior chefs to ask how to freshen things up. The only way we can get better is if we support each other.
What types of recipes will we find in the cookbook?
We made sure to choose recipes that are not too difficult to make for the average cook. These books will find their way into our clients hands, and we know they love to eat, but they may not have a ton of specialized equipment in their homes, so we tried to keep it as simple as possible while bringing forward some “clean” food items, which is where we are going as a company. These recipes contain a lot of whole, clean foods. We use butter instead of margarine, make some sugar-free desserts, have delicious sides without too many carbohydrates; there’s truly something for everyone. Our goal is to help folks be more healthful in their lives. We have so much talent within our ranks, and I want to thank everyone who has contributed. We had so many great recipes to choose from, so if your recipe didn’t make it in this round, maybe it will be in the next one.
How has the culinary division grown to be able to support this project?
We’ve grown in size, so we’ve been able to hire more chefs, which has brought a lot of diversity of thought into the company. Chef Frank Boerdner might have experience in a certain type of cuisine and technique, and Chef Trula Hepner, Chef Stephen Bloomer, and Chef Peter Tseng might have a different way of looking at things. That diversity of thought is awesome, and with that comes a lot of new ideas. That has helped us to clean up our menus and make our dishes more food forward. Our philosophy has always been food first, but now it’s food forward as well. We want to share food the way God made it and let it shine. We use real ingredients and simple foods. Not too many sauces and things like that. We’ve also taken inspiration for this book from some of our great partners, such as Halperns and Joyce Farms, both of which provide really great high quality products.
When will the book become available?
The cookbook should be available by the end of 2018. I can’t wait to see it.