GR Hospital Chef Earns His Chops

December 27, 2007
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Saint Mary’s Health Executive Chef William Read took the Gold Chef Award in a September competition in Chicago with two other chefs from hospitals that are members of Consorta, a healthcare resource management and purchasing organization.

“The worst part was the cameras and the bright lights staring down on you,” said Read, who joined the Trinity Health hospital six months ago from the Amway Grand Plaza, where his latest post had been banquet sous chef in the main kitchen. At Saint Mary’s, Read oversees 2,500 to 3,000 meals daily, from patient meals and the staff cafeteria to special events and catering.

Between 400 and 500 applications were submitted for the contest, and Read and two others were chosen to compete in a setting modeled after The Food Network’s “Iron Chefs” series. The secret ingredient? Healthy recipes.

“It was kind of fun,” Read said. “We came in the day before. They picked us up in stretch Lincoln Town Cars and we bought all our stuff from local markets in Chicago.”

The trio had one hour to create six portions of the meal for Chicago celebrities who served as judges, including Jimmy Bannos, the chef and owner of Cajun/Creole diner Heaven on Seven. The show was taped.

“I just wanted to make a difference,” Read said of his job change after 11 years at the hotel which included stints at Tinseltown, The 1913 Room, GP Sports and Cygnus. “The opportunity was there. It’s a really big challenge to improve hospital food.”

Read, 30, is a graduate of the Grand Rapids Community College culinary arts program. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Jeane, and has two daughters. HQX

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