St Jude's brand of comfort food

By WEEK Producer

March 28, 2012 Updated Mar 29, 2012 at 10:33 AM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn -- It takes $1.6 million a day to run Memphis headquarters of St. Jude Children's Research hospital, and during that time, like all of us, patients and their families need to eat.

Not many people like hospitals, and the food may be a reason.

Here at St. Jude's Memphis headquarters, these people know not many like being here either, but every day, Chef John Gilbreath does his best to make sure the food has nothing to do with it.

Gilbreath said, "You could say we are a Taco Bell, a Burger King, a sushi restaurant, all rolled into one."

Gilbreath and his 71 coworkers know food is comfort, so he says they have no problem calling Grandma to get a child's favorite recipe for mac-n-cheese, because it's comfortable.

They say its a philosophy that is enstilled in them by St. Jude founder Danny Thomas.

As Gilbreath recalls, it all started back in 1985 with a repeated request from Thomas for a bizarre, now-legendary dish.

Gilbreath said of the dish, "I had just gotten out of the service, and I really don't know how long he'd been asking about this egg. He wanted the white of the egg over-easy and the yolk scrambled."

So, Gilbreath got to work. He separated the two parts, cooking each as directed, then combining them again.

Thomas, he said, seemed impressed, but never ordered that egg again.

"I think what it was, he wanted us to think about the future. All these people will come in here with all these different pallets that we will have to please. He wanted us to grow with the hospital," said Gilbreath, and grow they did.

Like everyone here at St. Jude, Gilbreath looks forward to the day he's out of a job.

At St. Jude's Memphis headquarters, Maggie Vespa.

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