Eric Wood is a chef manager at McMaster University Medical Centre. He has worked at Hamilton Health Sciences for two years.
Favourite colour: brown/ book: about food- Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman, not about food- Shampoo Planet by Douglas Coupland/ vacation spot: Bayfield, Ontario/ music: Canadian Indie rock including Young Rival, The Dirty Nil, Rich Aucoin, Hayden/ food: pork carnitas tacos with chili verde/ holiday: Thanksgiving
Tell us about your first day at HHS.
The first day in a new kitchen is always very anxious for me. Being unfamiliar with the layout and systems always makes me feel like I’m going too slow and am not useful enough. But my team was great and really made me feel welcome. Now I’m the one that’s telling new employees that we don’t expect you to be superman on the first day!
What made you enter your field of work?
Many people don’t know that I trained to be a Chemical Engineer before I took up cooking. I wasn’t bad at it, but my heart wasn’t in it. Engineering projects took months or years to complete and I was attracted to the instant gratification of cooking.
What do you love most about your job?
Surprising people. Most people don’t have a high opinion of cafeteria food. But we work really hard to change that perception. When a guest isn’t sure about a special I’ll offer a free taste. I love the surprised look when the food is better than they expected.
“It always feels great when we are able to do something like that for a patient.”
What do you wish you had more time for at work?
Cooking! Believe it or not I don’t get to cook very much at work. I write the menu, order our supplies and manage our inventory, train staff members, decide on production levels, and supervise our team. It doesn’t leave much room to actually cook. I love the challenge of my job but sometimes I long for the days of my apprenticeship when I cooked all day long and didn’t even know what a profit & loss statement was.
What do you do after work to unwind?
I’m a bit of music nerd and have taken up collecting records. On the weekends I might be found digging through the used records at Dr. Disc or taking in a live show.
Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS.
We had a catering order for cupcakes. They were for a little a girl on the ward who was having a birthday party and couldn’t leave her room. I surprised them with custom decorated cupcakes shaped like lady bugs, clouds & rainbows, and flower petals. Delivering them was really emotional. It always feels great when we are able to do something like that for a patient.