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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Madonna patients team up for cooking competition

March 15, 2019

Six young patients donned aprons to compete for bragging rights during a fun, therapeutic cooking challenge at Madonna’s Lincoln Campus. Paired in teams of two - Ethan and Joe, Kali and Lisa, and Josh and Terrence –raced against the clock creating dessert masterpieces.

Using three mandatory ingredients – cream cheese, raspberry jam and graham crackers – the participants scurried to “wow” the judges within the hour deadline.  We’re talking speed, talent and creativity! The Therapy Kitchen buzzed with energy as patients’ family members and therapists joined in the fun offering a helping hand. Laughter rose above the whirling sound of the mixers. Teams cheered each other with comments like “That’s awesome!” and “Looks great!”

Local celebrity judges, George Looschen, executive sous chef at Wilderness Ridge Restaurant and Carla Taff with Pillar Restaurant Group, also volunteered tips to the bakers to help their creations standout. “It was fun observing their interactions with each other,” Looschen said, impressed by the teams competitive nature.

The cooking challenge was the brainchild of Kristen Luethke, recreational therapist. “It’s a novel way to incorporate therapy with patients working on a variety of skills – cognition, physical and social,” Luethke said.  Each patient, despite their diagnosis, was able to fully participate in the activity.  In Lisa’s case, she used a white board and an assistive application to communicate. Josh used the west side of the therapy kitchen with counter heights to accommodate his wheelchair. Patient teams collaborated on their recipe and strategized on the delivery.

All too soon the buzzer sounded and the hour deadline was up. The teams placed their delectable desserts in front of the judges and braced for the moment of truth. “They all look great; I’m glad I’m not a judge!” Sarah Messerli, SLP, commented. The judges, clipboards in hand, took their roles seriously. After sampling each dessert, marks were given for creativity, presentation and taste.  

Josh and Terrence baked a raspberry cheesecake, Kali and Lisa created raspberry cupcakes, and Ethan and Joe made a cheesecake cookie with raspberry sauce. Each team’s entry had its own festive flair and the participants enjoyed showcasing the details of their concoctions.

Cheers erupted when the judges announced  first place honors went to Kali and Lisa for their cupcakes extraordinaire. They received Madonna bluetooth speakers for their efforts. Coming in second place was Ethan and Joe who received Madonna portable power banks and third place prizes of Madonna tumblers were awarded to Josh and Terrence. Additionally, each chef received a participation medal. “I think you’re all winners,” Carla said. “I salute every one of you!”

To learn more about our Lincoln campus and take a virtual tour, click here

To see coverage of this event from 10/11 news, click here

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