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New Chef Vows to Spice Things Up At Ukiah Valley Medical Center

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UKIAH, CA  -- How would you like to have a baked battered cod fillet served with lemon and a special sauce for dinner and maybe some seasonal fresh fruits on the side? Well, you could, if you were a patient at Ukiah Valley Medical Center. And it’s about to get even better as UVMC’s new chef, Austin Gran, plans to bring more tasty changes to the menu.  

Chef Austin, as he prefers to be called, has had his taste of great cuisine from all over the world, which he hopes to bring to the tables (or trays) at UVMC. He comes to us from San Luis Obispo where he administered the culinary program for an independent and assisted living facility. Prior to this, he spent eight years in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico as a Chef/Instructor teaching tourists and residents how to cook, and catering for weddings and other special events. There he not only served great food but he also had a taste for the culture, “It makes such a difference when you experience the culture of that cuisine, because food is connected to everything,” says Chef Austin.

“I gained a better understanding for flavors and the effort that goes into everything. Food represents more than nourishment, it’s about bonding, family and just having fun. I would like to make our patients feel this sense of comfort, almost like if they were at home or close to it.”

While in Mexico, Chef Austin also created gourmet international cuisine onboard a private yacht, serving many satisfied guests, including the former President of Mexico, Carlos Salinas. 
He also served as Chef/Consultant for Cantine Mexican Kitchen, an 80-seat, slow-food inspired restaurant voted the “Best New Restaurant” in New Hampshire Magazine in 2009.   

A food lover, Chef Austin says he stumbled upon culinary arts. “I always loved to cook but I wanted to be good at it. So I went into culinary school.” An accomplished photographer, Chef Austin also has degrees in Law, Fine Arts, Arts Education and Psychology. 

“My goal is to bring healthy food to the mainstream, while giving respect to our patients’ dietary restrictions. I want to serve good food that just happens to be vegan or gluten-free. I want to show our community that hospital food does not have to taste bad,” he adds. 

He plans on starting with small changes that make an impact. “I hope to provide some of the details that can make foods tastier, such as tangy sauces and the infusion of fresh herbs and fruit wherever possible.  I also like to “mainstream” certain vegan or gluten free items so that they are as good as the non-gluten free version, such as gluten free oatmeal cookies and using oatmeal for the preparation of items such as meatloaf instead of breadcrumbs.  It’s heart-healthy fiber and happens to be gluten free.”

Nutritional Services Director, Kathleen Cervantes is excited to have a new chef on board. “Food is such a big part of the healing process. And with Chef Austin’s experience and our dietitians’ knowledge, we’re hope to continue expanding the unique and important relationship between culinary arts, fine dining and the more traditional health care food offerings, while keeping in mind our patients’ dietary restrictions.

Chef Austin, who recently joined the staff, will oversee the preparation of more than 80 patient meals a day, not to mention meals for over 500 hospital employees. 

Chef Austin’s creativity extends to two additional areas of the hospital: the cafeteria for staff and visitors and in a catering arm that provides food for in-house luncheons and dinners for physicians' gatherings, hospital board meetings and community events. “It’s great that we not only talk  about how to eat to prevent stroke or heart disease, but we also give people a taste of healthy recipes so they know they can do it at home,” he shares. Chef Austin encourages community members to come in and dine in the UVMC cafeteria which is open from 6:45 a.m. – 9:30 am for breakfast, Monday to Friday, lunch from 10:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every day and for dinner 5:45 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. every day.

--  UVMC  --

Ukiah Valley Medical Center is part of Adventist Health, a faith-based, not-for-profit integrated health care delivery system serving communities in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Our workforce of 28,600 includes more than 20,500 employees; 4,500 medical staff physicians; and 3,600 volunteers. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist health values, Adventist Health provides compassionate care in 19 hospitals, more than 220 clinics (hospital-based, rural health and physician clinics), 14 home care agencies, seven hospice agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers. We invite you to visit [Hospital Website] for more information.