St. Charles Prineville chefs Cameryn Turner and Stephanie Gates compete at national culinary competition

PHOTO COURTESY OF AMY COPPERSMITH - St. Charles Prineville chefs Cameryn Turner, left, and Stephanie Gates competed in the Association for Healthcare Foodservice's Annual Culinary Competition in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Aug. 22.

Two cooks at St. Charles Prineville are among some of the top hospital chefs in the nation.

Cameryn Turner and Stephanie Gates, a team of chefs from St. Charles in Prineville, competed Aug. 22 in the Culinary Competition at the Association for Healthcare Foodservice Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"My hat is off to the winners and all the finalists in the Culinary Competition. They highlight the talent in self-operated healthcare foodservice departments," said David Reeves, AHF president. "These competitors showed us what can be done when hospitals and long-term care facilities are committed to creating good food in-house while providing affordable and nutritious meals in the healthcare setting."

Self-operated departments are fully "in house," meaning the foodservice is managed by the healthcare facility's own staff.

More than 30 teams entered the competition nationwide, but only the top five were invited to the culinary competition, and the Prineville team was one of the finalists.

Teams from five hospitals and long-term care facilities competed to create the best meal from original recipes, with judging on organization, culinary skills, taste and presentation. Setting the AHF event apart from other culinary competitions, meals had to be suitable to serve in the competitors' facilities and meet cost and nutrition parameters — with food costs less than $8 per meal and no more than 700 calories, 23 grams of fat and 750 milligrams of sodium.

The Prineville team placed fourth of the five finalist teams.

 - St. Charles Prineville chefs Cameryn Turner prepares a dish with peppers.
AHF is the organization for self-operated healthcare food management professionals and strives to keep foodservice departments self-operated, in-house and homemade. The AHF annual conference, held Aug. 21-24, included keynote speakers, educational sessions, AHF's Marketplace Exhibit Hall, networking events, a culinary competition, activities in its host city, and a service activity supporting the local Minneapolis community.

Thom Pastor is the Nutrition Services Manager for the Madras and Prineville St. Charles campuses and serves on the national board of directors for the Association for Healthcare Foodservice. He had encouraged his employees to attend the conference and the competition, and he got to go along.

"It's an amazing learning opportunity," Pastor said, adding that he wanted them to compete so they could see for themselves that they're doing great work. "For our industry, it's pretty much the top of the game as far as I know, and they were competing at the highest level for our industry, so that was really exciting."

For the culinary competition, Turner and Gates prepared Pigs Eye Lake Roulade.

The pork roulade was stuffed with peaches and poblanos, and it was served with broccolini and a wild rice blend and two sauces.

 - A judge makes notes as Cameryn Turner, left, and Stephanie Gates prepare Pigs Eye Lake Roulade during the competition."One was a chimichurri, and the other was a sauce we created together, which was made with kombucha and Fresno peppers and achiote peppers, which is like a Mexican spice," Pastor explained.

Just before the final competition, chefs received a "mystery ingredient" to incorporate into their meal. This year's ingredient was a choice of a craft brew beer from the Minnesota-based craft brewery Surly Brewing Co. The local hospital chefs poached the poblano peppers in the beer before stuffing the pork with it.

Chefs Robert Navarrete and Diane Menzie from Rogue Valley Manor in Medford took first place with a plant-based dish called 30th Street Corn Risotto.

Second place went to Antonio Sanchez and Moulay Hida, of Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Richard Farmer and Michael Vetro, of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, took third place.

Other finalists competing were Alan Hudalla and Sarah Martz, of Cuyuna Regional Medical Center and Heartwood Senior Living in Crosby, Minnesota.

"I think they did awesome. Everything that they could control, they did a great job on," Pastor said of Turner and Gates. "Only a small portion of the score is objective, and I think they nailed it on the objective part, so it just came down to judge opinions, and that's where they didn't quite make the cut, but they showed up, and they performed perfectly."

He is grateful that St. Charles supported his team and hopes they will enter and qualify next time around.

"It was their first conference and first culinary competition," Pastor said. "I'm proud of them for doing it. It's a high-stress situation, and they did a great job."

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