Riderwood Chef’s Dinner

This is our second week at Riderwood and we are getting into a rhythm.  In the morning we come in and work on our projects.  Right now, we are mostly focused on our theme which will get its own post. In addition, we also have some smaller projects to better understand the operations aspect of the facility including a SWOT analysis and a financial project.  Then in the afternoon we have a mix of meetings, independent work and then we finish our day with kitchen work.

This week however, our pattern was thrown off by an event, the Chef’s Dinner.  Residents purchase tickets and they receive a gourmet 5 course meal, designed and executed by one of Riderwoods’ chefs.  They do this about 6 times a year, so it was Marta’s turn.  This was our first time meeting Marta, but two of our fellow interns, Bethany and Margery worked with her during their rotation.

The purpose of this event was not only to give the residents a night of gourmet dining, but also to showcase the talent that Riderwood has employed in their kitchens.  It was great to see Marta be able to be able to show her full range of abilities and it really made me appreciate how skilled she is.

We were able to check out the dining room and then watch them plate and prepare the meal.  He lent a helping hand where we could, but you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen…

Riderwood Chef Dinner 1…and we had three more in the wings ready to work on each dish.  To begin the evening, Chef Victor (executive chef) went and greeted all of the residents.  Marta then presented her menu and described each item.  Everyone seemed very interested in each one, but definitely perked up most when they heard the dessert (teaser!) The first course was a butternut squash soup garnished with pancetta and grated chestnuts.

Riderwood Chef Dinner Soup To follow was the seafood course.  Traditionally in a five course meal, before the entree is served, there is typically a seafood or poultry dish.  I never really understood the structure of this type of meal, all I knew was that there would be a lot of food.  For this dish, Marta served lobster with plantains.  I don’t recall the specific name of the recipe, but the plantains were prepared to be about the consistency of very think mashed potatoes, and served with this sauce that had a wonderful spice to it.  The final presentation was beautiful.

Riderwood Chef Dinner LobsterWe didn’t stay for the entire meal because it started close to the end of our shift, but I do remember the gist of the other dishes.  The third course was the pallet cleanser or the  intermezzo for which they served a sorbet.  The entree was Kobe beef.  Lobster and Kobe beef, I think these residents are getting spoiled!  For dessert, I was able to snap some pictures before we left.  Chef Chad was preparing the sugar top to the pumpkin spice Crème Brule.  They looked amazing.  A tip that Chef Chad gave us was to use sugar in the raw on top.  If the sugar is too refined, it will smoke and other times with form too thick of a layer, so they miss the characteristic ‘crunch’ when breaking the top with your spoon.

Riderwood Chef Dinner Dessert I’m glad we stayed for what we were able to.  It was really cool to watch these high level chefs work on something that was a fun project for them.  Everything was performed with such precision and care, it will make me appreciate the presentation and flavors of any meal from a restaurant that much more.

Have you had any experience working with professional chefs?


Joint Class Day at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

A big part of my internship is class day.  Every Monday we have class with all of the UMD College Park interns and have lectures on a variety of topics.  These range from clinical practice like working with cancer patients, to technology tools through intern presentations, and to community issues like working with low income populations.

Today was the first of many joint class days! What this means is that not only were all of my fellow interns there, but so were the interns from other local programs.  Some programs included Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (our gracious hosts), National Institute of Health (NIH), University of Maryland Medical Center, and Virginia Tech Northern Virginia, just to name a few.

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

We had a full day.  We were greeted with breakfast and socializing with the other interns in the morning, then moved into lectures.  There were two main topics today: eating disorders and bariatric surgery.  These are both topics that I definitely wanted to learn more about, so I was very excited that we had multiple lecturers on each topic.

First up was Marie DeMarco, MS, RD, LDN, NCC (PS I can’t wait to have letters after my name) .  She went over the basics of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.  This included physical, emotional and psychological effects of these disorders on patients.  She also reviewed the diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM IV which houses all of the mental disorders classified by the American Psychiatric Association.  An interesting factoid was that in the upcoming edition of DSM IV, binge eating disorder will be moved from the research section into the area with other established disorders.  This disorder doesn’t get much attention and this move will legitimize it in practice.  Ms. DeMarco shared a lot of stories from her years of private counseling.  It was great to hear what kind of language she used with her patients and how to deal with different scenarios.  When discussing anorexia, she mentioned a symptom that was new to me: hypercarotenemia.  This is when the skin of a patient turns yellow orange.  It is caused by consuming foods high in vitamin A too frequently.  Part of this eating disorder is rituals surrounding their meals, meaning they may stick to certain favorite foods, which frequently includes carrots.  See a light-hearted example of this in The Magic School Bus Goes Cellular.

Magic School Bus

The second speaker was Maureen Gately, RD, LDN and she discussed what it was like working in a facility designed for patients with an eating disorder.  She outlined the different methods of treatments.  Some patients come for day visits weekly or biweekly while others spend 2 weeks to a month in the facility.  It all depends on the severity of their condition and a wealth of other factors.  While there, a multi-disciplinary method is used which includes nutrition consults, personal and group therapy sessions which include family members.  She discussed certain challenges as well as strategies that they use in order to slowly improve the patients relationship with food and their personal body image.  One method that I found intriguing was that once a week, they will get food from a restaurant for lunch.  By doing this continuously, it allows them to integrate these foods back into their diet and feel more comfortable with their food choices.  I’m not sure if I will go into this area of practice, but it was really insightful to hear the details of treatment.

After lunch we had three speakers on bariatric surgery including a Registered Dietitian, Suzy Carobrese RD, LDN, CDE, a bariatric surgeon, Kimberly E. Steele MD, PhD candidate, and a recipient of bariatric surgery. All of their lectures complimented each other well while discussing the different types of procedures as well as the risks and requirements for surgery.

I feel that it is a common misconception that getting bariatric surgery is “the easy way out”.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  These procedures will significantly change how a person is able to live their live.  Even before getting to the hospital, each patient must have a documented history of attempted weight loss over a six month period.  They then must adopt their post-surgery diet before hand to make sure they can comply.  Conservative surgeons like Dr. Steele require that patients lose some weight in order to make the surgery itself easier and less prone to complication.

Bariatric Surgery

No matter which surgery option taken, the stomach pouch where food enters is reduced from the size of a football to approximately 1-4oz.  From there on, patients must be on several supplements, eat tiny portions and refrain from alcohol-for their entire lives.  This is a true lifestyle change that demands commitment.  These lectures made that point extremely clear.  But they work.  Below is a graph showing the maintenance of weight loss in bariatric patients.  It is relatively stable, especially when compared to the common yo-yo-ing frequently seen in dieters.

Bariatric Surgery SuccessRYGBP=Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery

LAGB= Lap Band Adjustable Gastric Banding

BPD= Biliopancreatic Diversion

I would like to state that I am not endorsing any particular method of weight loss but rather just presenting some data that I learned in today’s lecture.  Decisions like these need to be made with the appropriate medical professionals.  I do think that this is an area that I would like to work in on an outpatient basis.  The success is truly remarkable, but only with the proper support system.

Overall, I really enjoyed this joint class day and I look forward to our next one.

Have you every had bariatric surgery?  What was your experience?

Interns Take on the Smithsonian

About a month ago, Melissa heard about a new exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and can you guess the theme? FOOD! To be more specific, its about the evolution of food production and consumption in the United States between 1950 and 2000.  It is titled, “FOOD: Transforming the American Table”.  IMG_0553

Naturally, we went within a week of it opening. When we first got there, it seemed pretty small.  There were a few  glass showcases set up and some interactive areas.  SOMEHOW, we managed to spend over 2 hours in this exhibit.  I am a reader when I go to museums.  If I’m there, I want to soak up as much as my brain can hold.  Thankfully, so is Melissa, so we were well paced with each other.  Here are some highlights:

Microwave Collage RedHere we have the first microwaves and accessories.  The top 2 pictures feature the original microwave (about the size of a small modern oven) and retailed for over $1,000.  One thing that I though was super handy was the recipe box the was built right into the bottom.  Gotta keep track of all your new microwavable recipes!

In the second row we see the original TV trays and another early microwave that reminds me more of a DeLorean than a cooking device

Food Pyramid CollageThe next area was a table set up with the eating guides from different countries as well as from different years in the US. It was neat to see how the recommendations have changed over the years and how cultures value foods differently.  In clockwise order we have The African Heritage Diet Pyramid 2011, the Japanese Food Guide Spinning Top 2005, US Food Pyramid 1992, USDA Canine Food Pyramid 2004 (I couldn’t help myself) and Chef Ann’s Healthy Kid’s Meal Wheel 2004.  These are all pretty distinct from each other.  My favorite part about Chef Ann’s is that the recommendations are not only for daily meals but also for the week.  The African Heritage pyramid shows how you should build your meal with a basis of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and then everything else is only included in some meals.  We have definitely come a long way from 1992.  The current US recommendation is the MyPlate.

Convenience Food CollageConvenience foods and snacks were also featured. Up top we have some retro Pringles and Gatorade.  In the center are the mascots for 7/11, the early bird and the night owl (I think that was so clever.  Just me? okay).  They were the first store of their kind and extended their hours to better serve the extremes.  They were then the first convenience store to be open 24/7.  In the bottom left are dozens of disposable coffee lids.  Why you might ask?  Each of those designs is patented! The amount of energy that went into the perfect sip of coffee would blow your mind and make you think twice before throwing it away.

A big theme in this section was that with convenience, comes an increase in snacking.  Before the 80’s, snacks were around, but they took off in this time period.  It is interesting because with the emergence of snacks, we see the waistlines of Americans starting to creep upwards.  Coincidence? Unlikely.  Here is a graph showing the amount of new products that hit the market.

Snack Graph

The green, pink and yellow bars are condiments, candy, gums and snacks, and bakery foods respectively.  The amount of new products are completely staggering.  At the bottom of the graph, we see that entrees as well as fruits and vegetables have a pitiful performance in comparison.

Julia Child Collage And to break the seriousness, we have Julia Child’s kitchen!  This was one of the main features of the exhibit.  Julia donated everything from her kitchen to the Smithsonian.  Everything in that room was original except for the floors(which were a replica of the real thing).  Bravo Smithsonian!  The space wasn’t huge, which gives me inspiration to do great things in my tiny kitchen.

I loved that she had all of her pans exposed and hanging on pegs.  If you have such beautiful copper, I feel like you have to show it off.  To keep everything organized, there were outlines of each pot for where it was supposed to go.  My mom has photos of our pots and pans and Tupperware put away properly tapped to the inside of our cabinets so that things get put away correctly.  Great minds.

She had a wonderful mix of traditional cookware, like the copper pots and the modern, like the kitchen aid (every dietitian’s dream appliance).  In the exhibit, they had some episodes of “The French Chef” playing.  One of the funnier things she said is that your diet should be balanced, which means that there is always a place for red meat and gin.

Well that about sums up our trip! Here are a few more photos of some fun features.  Now that you’ve had a taste, I highly recommend that you visit.  Its a new permanent installment and its free.

Smithsonian CollageHave you been to any great museums lately?

UMD Dining Services Showcase Meal

Melissa and I have finished our 4th rotation.  Three months have gone by and we have been through a lot of different experiences.  We started at FNIC (Food Nutrition Information Council), then moved onto IFIC (International Food Information Council) in DC, and then wrapped up our complicated acronyms with FSNE (Food Supplement Nutrition Education).  These three all focused on information technology, the unique attraction of the University of Maryland internship.  Our 4th rotation started us in food service at the university itself.  For three weeks we worked on a variety of projects that you can see here.  To cap off our experience, we planned and executed a meal for the administrative members of UMD Dining Services, fellow interns, and our director Phyllis.

Inspired by our favorite Food Truck Friday dishes (aka Gyros), we wanted to do a Mediterranean theme.  We put together a menu including stuffed mushrooms, a Greek salad, chicken souvlaki and cake for dessert. We thought it sounded delicious but the executive chef sent us back an email that just said, and I quote, “Boring!!!” Yes. There were multiple exclamation points.  So we went and sat down with him and realized that we played everything too safe.  All of these dishes, we could make easily in our home.  But we were in a fully stocked kitchen with the guidance of an executive chef! The sky was the limit!

So after some brainstorming and tweaking we finally all agreed on our menu, which was to die for.  You can’t tell me this doesn’t sound amazing.

Mediterranean Menu

The coolest part about this whole project was that we actually got to make everything.  Chef John was in the kitchen giving us direction, but about 90% of the work came from intern hands.  We learned how to julienne vegetables, the proper way to cut basil, how to prepare pizza dough, and the how to stuff a turnover.

Food Prep

One thing that I was consistently impressed with was Chef’s consistent lack of measuring utensils.  After so many years in the business, he just doesn’t need them anymore.  He just took industrial sized spices and shook them into each dish, tasted and adjusted if it needed it.  Check out some highlights including the largest carrot in the world:

Meal Collage And here is the final spread!

Meal Collage 2

Final Meal Our food was a hit and fortunately, we made enough to have leftovers.  🙂  It was really cool to have such freedom in the kitchen and stretch my culinary abilities.  Most of what we made wasn’t so complicated in its technique, but just paired some great flavors.  I am going to try and recreate some of these at home and I will be sure to update you on their status.

Have you had any experience in a professional kitchen?