Competition For Colorado Hospital Chefs Proves There’s Room For More Than Jell-O

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<p>(Michael Sakas/CPR News)</p>
<p>Pumpkin flan by chefs John O&#039;Brien and Jennifer Hill. </p>

When you think hospital food, Palisade peaches with homemade ice cream, pumpkin flan and smoked elk tenderloin likely don't come to mind. But those are just a few things cooked up by Colorado hospital chefs at a recent competition.

"You can go to a country club and get good food, why not come to a hospital and get good food?" asked chef Robert Reynolds of Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs. "Or good home style mom-pop food, stuff that people are real comfortable with. You're sick, you want something good to eat."

The winner of best appetizer and entree was chef Joe Colcleasure of Saint Anthony Hospital and OrthoColorado in Lakewood. With years of experience in fine dining and the hotel restaurant industry, Colcleasure says the competition was a chance to show what hospital chefs can do.

"When people ask what I do, I still have that little twinge of, 'Ok how do I approach this?'" Colcleasure said. "Because what we do still hasn't gotten into the mainstream. I want this contest to really show how, not only me and my team, but health care has evolved."

Colcleasure spoke with Colorado Matter's host Nathan Heffel about the charity event for the Children's Treehouse Foundation.