Michael Ufholz had many years of experience as a chef in the restaurant industry before joining our culinary team at Northwell Health in 2019. Today, as the executive sous chef at Peconic Bay Medical Center (PBMC) in Riverhead, New York, he takes pride helping to heal our patients in a different way—with food and nutrition.
When you think of hospitals, nutritious and restaurant-quality food may not be top of mind, but at Northwell, preparing delicious and healthy dishes for our patients is one of our highest priorities. At Northwell, we believe innovation is the key ingredient in promoting wellness and is essential to transforming the healthcare culinary experience for our patients and our team members.
Michael is proud of the work he does and the team he has built at PBMC. With a sense of devotion and passion in all that he does, Michael knows that creating a positive impact on each patient’s food experience is vital to his success. It is the positive impact on his patients and having the ability to improve their experience that led Michael to want to work for Northwell Health.
“If you’re ready to make meals from the heart, this is your place to be,” said Michael. “Food tastes better when it’s made from the heart, and that’s what Northwell’s culinary teams do.”
It all begins with the culinary team in the kitchen each day. Michael’s daily responsibilities include selecting the daily menu for our patients and providing training to our team members, such as teaching cooking techniques. Michael also assists in the management of the cafeteria and catering functions, in addition to preparing all food items appropriate for each meal including starters, entrees, side dishes and more.
Michael believes that making a good quality meal for patients is the most rewarding part of his job. For instance, if a patient is worried about an upcoming test or procedure, a meal prepared by Michael and Northwell’s culinary team can make them feel calmer and more at ease.
“I’m able to see firsthand the impact our culinary team has on our patients,” said Michael. “Our teams work hard to produce the best meals for our patients, and it truly pays off by making our patients happy.”
Michael loves that his current position with Northwell allows him to have a healthy work/life balance. When working in the restaurant industry, it was common for Michael to be at the restaurant into the late hours multiple days a week. Now at Northwell, Michael’s team works just as hard but with flexible shifts to ensure they have time to balance a full-time career with their families at home. This makes a huge difference in his life as he shares, “I used to feel like I lived at work and now I live to truly experience life.” With a flexible schedule, Michael believes Northwell has allowed him to have the opportunity to get even more crafty with his cooking — being creative with recipes that he could possibly add to PBMC’s menu.
Michael feels supported to grow and develop at Northwell. He also welcomes the camaraderie with his fellow culinary teams at our other hospitals with Northwell’s annual chef challenge competition, where each hospital’s culinary team competes to create a three-course-meal for a panel of judges.
These unique, team-focused opportunities provide Michael with learned disciplines, which help him be a better chef. He loves that his work environment at Northwell is more collaborative than any other work environment he’s ever been a part of before.
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