Monday, January 24, 2011

Bistro's New Chef Shares Fresh Ideas

Fauquier Health employees, patients’ families and local residents are greeted with a plethora of choices when they walk into Fauquier Hospital's Bistro on the Hill. The variety of colors is almost overwhelming, and the sights and smells demand that you fill your plate.

Produce appears to have been picked that morning. The green lettuce and broccoli, the red tomatoes, the yellow peppers and orange carrots all fight for attention – and that’s just the salad bar! The secret is freshness. Bright, fresh-tasting vegetables and salads are the centerpiece here.

The soups at The Bistro have always been great, but recently the rich broths and hearty combinations have been coaxed to a new level. Beef with barley, onion soup, clam chowder, vegetable soups – all are delicious winter meal starters.

The Mongolian Barbecue – stir fry to the uninitiated – has been a popular favorite for years. The homestyle bar is outstanding (the stuffed pork loin offered recently was fork tender and mouth-watering). The Pasta, pizza and sandwich area beckons as well, with lots of fresh and flavorful choices.

At lunchtime, The Bistro is filled with happy and hungry voices these days, thanks in part to new chef Michael Lopes. His philosophy on cooking: “It’s very simple. Freshness comes out in taste and explodes on your palate. Great food is created, not opened. Everyone deserves good food.”

The Bistro continues to keep abreast of the new trends by utilizing local produce and vendors when the season allows. “We’re all fresh; everything is fresh down to sauces. I usually spend about two to four hours a day ordering inventory and produce is delivered three times a week. We contract with local growers to assure we get the freshest ingredients.”

Michael has worked with director of Nutritional Services Zachary Ericson to give The Bistro a welcoming, professional look. With the new crisp, clean uniforms and friendly smiles of the staff, many prefer to dine in rather than grab food to go.
And of course, in addition to The Bistro restaurant, Michael and his staff are responsible for all patient food as well. He said, "Patient satisfaction is the basis of this job. It’s what we do.”

Michael has been with The Bistro for several months now, from Connecticut. Michael said, The people down here smile and are so nice, such a change from up north.” Michael trained at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and Connecticut Culinary Institute and has been a part of the cooking industry for about 30 years.

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