Faced with mystery ingredients and a ticking clock two chefs from Staten Island University Hospital North cooked their way to second place in North Shore-LIJ Health System's Ultimate Chef Healthy Entrée Challenge. The event, held on March 14 at Glen Cove Hospital, pitted chefs from 13 system hospitals against each other in an Iron Chef-style battle.
Our own Aneesah Cox, culinary chef manager and Natrell Fisher, first cook, didn't find out what their main ingredient (pork) would be until they drew a piece of paper from a box. They also picked one other secret ingredient (brown rice) and were allowed to choose from an array of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices. The one caveat: No salt.
In 45 minutes or less, Cox and Fisher had to whip together an entrée that contained no more than 500 calories, 15 grams of fat and 600 milligrams of sodium. Registered dietitians from the health system supervised the chefs' ingredient selections as they cooked.
"We came up with the recipe on the fly," said Fisher, who has a bachelor's degree in Hospitality Management from New York City College of Technology.
Cox and Fisher prepared chipotle-rubbed pork tenderloin with garlic infused brown rice, curry yogurt sauce, mango chutney and collard greens.
"It was a lot of pressure, but we work good together," explained Cox, who was tapped for the cook-off by Renu Sethi, director of Food and Nutrition Services at the North Site.
Cox, in turn, asked Fisher to be her right-hand chef. To round out the team, they brought along Deidre Corella, office manager for Food and Nutrition Services, for morale support and to help gather ingredients.
The award-winning chefs debuted their signature dish April 2 in the North Site cafeteria.
For Cox, a graduate of New York Restaurant School and former executive chef at Southern Regional Medical Center, Atlanta, and Prince William Hospital in Virginia, this year's competition was just a warm up for the 2014 cook-off.
"Everybody thinks when you come to a hospital you can't have great food," said Cox. "We're bringing great food to the hospital."