Chefs’ Challenge Will Be a Centerpiece of the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine in 2024

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WASHINGTON D.C., – When hundreds of nutrition and health care professionals gather in Washington, D.C. for the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine (ICNM) sponsored by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in August 2024, they will be treated to a special new event. The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), one of the largest and most diverse culinary schools in the world, will partner with the Physicians Committee to host The Healthy Hospital Chef Challenge. Physicians Committee and ICE are calling on chefs of health care facilities to submit recipes for the contest in which culinary experts will compete in teams of two for prizes of as much as $6,000 and the title of Top Healthy Hospital Chef.

“I’m so excited to highlight the talented culinary innovators leading the way in plant-based nutrition within the healthcare system with this chef challenge,” says Dustin Harder, chef and culinary specialist with the Physicians Committee. “As hospital systems are becoming more aware of the benefits of a plant-based diet, institution menus are evolving to offer more healthful options for patients, and the chefs competing in this challenge are on the front lines of making that change a reality.”

The Healthy Hospital Chef Challenge is open to all chefs and cooks who work within the food service department of a health care institution, including hospitals and long-term care facilities. Three finalist teams will compete on the main stage at the ICNM in Washington D.C. on Aug. 15. Registration and recipe submissions are due by March 15, 2024.

Chef teams are asked to develop an original 100% plant-based entrée and are encouraged to include up to three different food groups. Food groups to consider are fruits, vegetables, leafy green vegetables, starchy vegetables, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (including tofu and tempeh).

Entries are evaluated based on readability and accessibility; nutritional value of the ingredients; originality and innovation; and visual appeal of the submitted recipe photo. Once the entries are narrowed to a semifinalist group, the competing recipes will be tested by the Healthy Hospital Chef Challenge review committee and judged based on cookability, taste, and the chefs’ interview.

Ultimately, three finalists will compete in person at ICNM 2024. During the onstage competition, the three finalists will be reviewed by guest judges who will evaluate competition presence, culinary technique, healthful benefits of the recipe, and recipe taste and presentation.

This year’s judges are Brooklynne Palmer, MD, MPH, preventive medicine resident, creator of Beets by Brooke, and culinary medicine specialist; Shawn Matijevich, lead chef-instructor, Online Culinary Arts & Food Operations at ICE; and Emmett McDonough, executive chef of culinary development, Sodexo NYC Health + Hospitals.

“ICE is looking forward to participating in the Healthy Hospital Chef Challenge,” says Shawn Matijevich, of the Institute of Culinary Education. “We teach the concept of food as medicine in our Plant-Based Culinary Arts program, which focuses on plant-based cooking, whole foods and wellness; and we’re excited that framework is coming to life at this competition.”

The three finalist teams will receive a travel stipend, two nights’ lodging at the Grand Hyatt D.C. for each team member, and registration for ICNM 2024. Finalists will be selected by June 1.

Announcing third, second, and first place from the judges panel will occur the evening of the competition. Third place is a $1,000 cash prize. Second place is a $2,500 cash prize. First place is a $6,000 cash prize, a feature in the Physicians Committee’s Good Medicine publication, a private online plant-based cooking class from the ICE, and a catered plant-based lunch for the winner’s staff of up to 25 employees from a local plant-based vendor.

For nutrition guidelines, other details, and to register for the challenge by March 15, visit   

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