LLUMC cafeteria’s new chef offers seasonal changes
Executive Chef Reid Sinderud serves up coconut curry with tofu and vegetarian chicken on a bed of lemon rice for the lunch special on November 30.
If nothing else, change is at least good for the tastebuds. And this winter you can expect plenty of change at the Loma Linda University Medical Center cafeteria to please a lot of tastebuds.
“We’re blessed enough to live in Southern California, just below the salad bowl of America,” says Reid Sinderud, executive chef for the Medical Center cafeteria, who prefers to be called Chef Reid. “We can utilize that here in the cafeteria.”
Chef Reid is part of a culture of change within the cafeteria that began last December with the arrival of Destination 10.
Destination 10 is a service orientated management and team building effort. It derives from the Olympic scoring system of 10, with the staff constantly trying to reach and maintain high quality levels of service and product. To find out how they rate, Chef Reid pulls random kitchen staff—not just cooks—twice a day to do tastings and score the food on a scale from 1 to 10. Chef Reid is here because one of the objectives of the Destination 10 was to hire an executive chef.
That’s not really the only reason the Medical Center began looking for an executive chef. Chef Reid is here because, as he puts it, “to be part of the healing process was too good of a temptation for me.
“I get excited by change, so I wasn’t intimidated by anything,” recalls Chef Reid of coming to a hospital cafeteria. “But it took a couple of weeks to get my bearings.” Previou
Behind the giant pots and massive ovens, these are the cooks that help Chef Reid prepare the food for the Medical Center Cafeteria on a daily basis. From left to right are Ian Hamlin, Vince Hocott, Rey Salapare, Chef Reid, and Ron Rajo.
sly he was chef for an assisted living complex where the dining experience was much more like a sit-down restaurant.
“I was excited to get back to the cafeteria setting,” smiles Chef Reid. “As a chef you’re always looking for that immediate feedback—and the cafeteria not only gives you that, it lets you get to know the people who keep coming back.”
On the job for a little more than five months now, Chef Reid is bringing some welcome changes and additions to the menu lineup. He is moving the cafeteria toward incorporate seasonal menus. Changes to the menu, depending on the season, will add variety to the rotating menu selection. For example, people will only see the menu rotate three or four times before the next season dictates new dishes, replacing the previous season’s specialties.
“For winter, look for more stews, soups, and ragouts in the cafeteria,” says Chef Reid. Another change will be the subtle use of tofu, legumes, mushrooms, and beans to take the place of some of the “meat analog” soy products in recipes.
“That’s where the Desti-nation 10 will come in big for us,” says Chef Reid. “I will need help taste-testing the new options. It will definitely be a work in progress. As you can imagine, cooking for 700 people at a time takes some tweaking.”
In total, eight new entrees will be introduced to the hot deck this winter. These include: sauteed asparagus with curried tofu; winter vegetable ragout; enchilada casserole whole wheat with chick pea, lintels and tarragon; curried quinoa with peas and cashews; creole mushroom and pepper stew; and udon with miso, shiitake mushroom and bok choy. You’ll have to visit the cafeteria to find out the remaining two new entrees.
Besides the menu changes, Chef Reid brings a flair for the dramatic to the cafeteria as well. Every Thursday he performs a demonstration cooking station at the Medical Center cafeteria. He offers a new selection each week, and posts the month’s menu outside the entry doors. He starts serving the dish around 11:00 a.m. and goes until either 2:00 p.m. or he sells out. More often than not, he sells out prior to 2:00 p.m.
“Demo cooking gives me a chance to showcase something and meet the people,” says Chef Reid. “It’s a test area to see what people are going to like.
“From previous demos I’ve already done here, I know that Mexican and Asian flavors are big and I want to incorporate them into the menu more.”
Chef Reid was born in Florida, but has spent the last 22 years in California, completing middle school, high school, and attending the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He played football in college with the plan to go into advertising, but after an injury he had to quit playing and got a job as a bus boy. He saw firsthand how much fun the cooks seemed to be having, but didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until his sister confronted him on his ambitions that cooking came onto his radar.
“‘You talk more about work than school-maybe you should be a chef,’ she told me,” remembers Chef Reid. There was no looking back after that realization hit him.
The chef is the department manager responsible for menu development, quality standards, and educating staff.
“As chef, it’s your recipes the cooks are executing, so you’re in there constantly educating,” says Chef Reid.
While Chef Reid believes “the only thing you can control is your attitude,” the changes in the cafeteria will make many people glad to visit the cafeteria when they’re in the mood for good food.
If you want to contact Chef Reid, e-mail him at email@example.com
By Preston Clarke Smith