by Lisa Monti
- this month - Hancock Medical's cafeteria puts hospital food in a whole new light.
If you get a bad feeling at the thought of hospital food, you probably haven’t been to Hancock Medical Center’s cafeteria in a while, especially on Fridays.
“People come from miles around for our catfish and gumbo,” said Jimmy Lamy, HMC’s food service director. “Some people call it the best kept secret in Hancock County.”
On a recent Friday, the fresh catfish was well seasoned and crispy as promised, and served with crunchy hush puppies, a fresh baked sweet potato and other sides. My bowl of gumbo was chock-full of shrimp and served with my choice of brown rice for a flavorful and filling lunch. OK, not so filling as to keep me from trying the rich bread pudding.
Cafeteria fans also line up for fresh turnip greens on Monday and Friday, and for the award-winning red beans and rice on Monday. “The best anywhere,” is how a fan described the Monday special.
Lamy said he and his crew of nine “hard-working, dedicated employees” pride themselves on the food, the portions and the price. “We pretty much prepare everything we can from scratch,” he said.
Tom “Tammy” Monti is a longtime regular customer. “I order carry-out meals at lunch time six or seven days a week,” he said, singling out red beans and rice among his long list of favorites. “The service is excellent, the staff is helpful and friendly, hours are convenient and prices are reasonable.”
The cafeteria serves breakfast from 7-9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. seven days a week.
Every day, there’s a “Lighter Side” choice for those watching calories and salt intake. There’s also a grill for hamburgers and chicken, a build-your- own salad bar plus fresh sandwiches and wraps.
In the morning, there’s a full breakfast line and daily specials. Fresh donuts from Grammy’s are available for sale three days a week.
Lamy said the cafeteria doesn’t try to compete with local restaurants, and in fact, the hospital invites local chefs to come in and prepare their specialties so the hospital staff and others can get a taste of their restaurant menus.
“We just want people to come eat with us,” Lamy said.