Finding Comfort and Food in the Recovery Café

Guess what area of our organization rarely ever gets anything other than the highest compliments, most compliments, and there never seems to be anything to change or make better?  You guessed it – the kitchen staff, the kitchen/dining environment, and our food.

Just before the end of their treatment stay, our patients have an exit interview with leadership.  They tell us what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now.  And they give us their feedback.  We hear the good and the bad.  The bad is good to hear so we know what to make better.  But when it comes to the kitchen, kitchen staff, and food – there’s just nothing to make better (pun intended!)  Their feedback is outstanding all the time and has been for years and years.

While that’s true, there’s also a more serious side. A very good serious side.  As human beings, we have a long history of community, forming community, expressing care, and being cared for – as demonstrated by people handling food.

  • Preparing food.
  • Serving food.
  • Finding out what we like and don’t like when it comes to food.

Many of us as individuals have stories about home cooking and our memories around food. Those are stories about comfort and love.  And we really mean it.  We’re not just being cheesy (pun intended!)

Some things here in our kitchen department have become long-standing traditions, and continue for many years to be very popular.  Taco Tuesday.  Salmon Thursday.  Smoked meat Friday. Waffles and omelets on the weekend.  Super Bowl Sunday snacks.  And Thanksgiving!

But more than that things like:

  • The kitchen staff using the newcomer’s first name before the new arrival has even been here a full day
  • Remembering “the usual” of both patients and staff
  • Taking the time to set a weekly meal schedule in advance
  • Envisioning each meal as what one person would have on their plate, rather than a mass-quantity approach that seems like a mass quantity approach
  • Real attention being given to a holistic approach, with variety and balance in mind
  • The salad bar!
  • Soup of the Day!
  • Breakfasts! (Which are very popular all on their own)

The written feedback we routinely get about our kitchen staff shows us very clearly and consistently that they get to be known by the patients.  Attending to the real dietary needs of each person is a pretty personal matter.  Sometimes, on certain days, what we like and don’t like in our omelet can make or break our day – and so can the person who is serving us.

Our kitchen staff are known to offer a smile.  To ask “How ya’ doin’?” in a real and sincere way.  And to really want to know the answer.  And they’re known to ask about a person’s day, show they really care, and that they aren’t just passing time.

And this brings a very real and helpful kind of natural, person-centered support.

So food is a part of wellbeing, but so are people.

And at Pavillon, the kitchen staff deliver the best of both.