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Chef at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital to Cook for Olympians|
FORT WORTH, Texas – When the Olympic flame arrives in Beijing in August, Hugh Gittens, assistant food service director and executive chef at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital (HMFW), will be there. In fact, he'll be there for the entire 2008 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games preparing meals for athletes and media as a member of the ARAMARK culinary team.
"It is a great opportunity to be a part of the mortar that will help cement East/West relations," Gittens said. "My goal is to be open and receptive so as to facilitate the exchange of culture and values. To know a culture is to know a people."
Gittens is no stranger to world travel. Born in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, he has traveled extensively throughout the United States and spent time in Japan and Germany as an ARAMARK International Guest Chef. He has even prepared food at the United Nations in New York City.
"The fact that I travel so much means I have a great staff at the hospital that can seamlessly keep things going," he said. "I owe a large part of my growth and opportunity to them."
And his international travels have influenced his cooking style as much as it has his language. Gittens is fluent in Spanish, speaks some Japanese and even a little Arabic.
"There's a diverse environment in the kitchen nowadays," Gittens said. "In management, it's important to learn another language to increase communication, and your employees feel more comfortable knowing you are interested in their culture."
Gittens will leave for his five-month stay in Beijing on April 26. He'll be part of the ground team that lays the framework for ARAMARK operations at the Olympic Village and will help orient chefs from other countries as they arrive. Gittens and a team of approximately 200 chefs and cooks from around the world are expected to prepare a total of 5 million meals by the time the Games conclude in September.
"The menu is international in nature and geared toward the specific diets of the athletes," he said. "It's a kaleidoscope of food designed to be inclusive of everyone."
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