Pharmacy Residency (PGY1)

Parkland’s new executive chef has the recipe for healing

Parkland’s new executive chef has the recipe for healing

Believes food for the soul is an essential part of a patient’s recovery

Pain management, wound care and physical therapy are just some of the elements of rehabilitation that happen every day at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Adam Schloemer believes food, too, is a part of that healing.

With more than 16 years of culinary experience ranging from country clubs to childcare nutrition, Schloemer is bringing his unique passion and leadership to Parkland’s food service team as its new executive chef.

“Healthcare food service is both simple and complex. We are providing safe, nutritious foods to our patients to help them recover and ultimately get them home,” said Schloemer. “But we do face unique dietary challenges and restrictions. It is a fun but super precise puzzle.”

Chef Schloemer, who has worked more than a decade in the healthcare food industry, said his fascination with food began in the fourth or fifth grades. That’s when he’d spend a couple of weeks each summer on his grandmother’s farm outside of Goodland, Kansas. He talks fondly of her large garden filled with fresh, seasonal produce and the flavorful meals she lovingly prepared. A favorite was an acorn squash dish made with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. If he was lucky, he said, she’d add in mini marshmallows.

At age 13, Chef Schloemer was responsible for his younger brother and sister while their mother worked an overnight shift. It was then that his culinary flare took shape, and his mastery of food began. He described how dinners first began as simple dishes made from boxed macaroni and cheese that slowly became delicious, and sometimes daring meals crafted from whatever ingredients were on hand.

“At first what I made wasn’t very good at all. But sometimes a dish would come out surprisingly good. The times that my brother and sister were really happy with what I made left me feeling accomplished and gave me a sense of fulfillment that really started the spark of culinary passion.”

For the next decade, Chef Schloemer said cooking was more of a hobby than a profession. That is until he decided to apply to college and embark on a culinary career. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Culinology, the blending of culinary arts and the science of food, and Food Service Management from Texas Woman’s University.

With a belief that food is therapy, Chef Schloemer views his culinary practice as a mix of art and science, emphasizing the importance of connection through food.

“From a clinical and nutritional perspective, certain foods are going to aid in healing, but I like to go beyond that,” he explains. “If I create a dish that a patient is able to connect with on a deeper level and perhaps sparks a positive emotion or reminds them of family, that will help them feel better and help in their recovery.”

Chef Schloemer uses his culinary skills to develop recipes and meals that appeal to those from varying backgrounds and cultures but also meet the strict dietary needs of patients. It’s not an easy task due to Parkland’s inpatient volume. On average, Parkland’s Nutrition Services provides about 2,400 patient meals each day.

“On top of food safety regulations, we have to adhere to a patient’s health needs. The menu must be methodically planned out, the recipes have to be 100% accurate, ensuring that cooks are always following the recipes,” Chef Schloemer emphasized. “Accidentally altering the sodium content of a recipe could be dangerous to a patient with heart issues, potentially prolonging their stay in the hospital.”

The ultimate goal is to provide healthy, nutritious meals that supplement the care that patients receive.

“At Parkland, I truly feel a sense of service. I am helping those in need who may not have access to healthcare or the means to get a warm meal. The patients here are unique and the work that we do here reflects that. I am proud to be a part of it.”

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