Children’s Hospital opens $11 million ‘Chef’s Playground’

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff
A view of Boston Children’s Hospital’s new renovated Food Court, Chef’s Playground.

Boston Children’s Hospital officially opened its new renovated food court, Chef’s Playground, an $11 million reimagining of the drab hospital cafeteria.

The redesign includes local restaurants, such as Regina’s Pizza, along with national chains such as Starbucks and Subway. The 12,000-square-foot cafeteria was completely remodeled, including whitewashed walls and brightly colored lights in the ceiling. In addition, there is a Kid’s Play Area, which includes coloring stations and screens on the walls that have images that can be manipulated by the children.

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff
The Kid’s Play area in the hospital’s newly renovated food court.

The food court is attached to the main lobby. When patrons enter, they are confronted with a touch screen iMac bar to the right, and a Starbucks to the left. Ahead is the seating area and the Kid’s Play Area. Beyond that opens up into a larger room, featuring most of the restaurants and the Chef’s Playground station.

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff
A view of the dining area.

“Our marquee station is truly Chef’s Playground,” said project manager Paul O’Connor. The station will feature a rotating bevy of celebrity and local chefs, who will cook unique meals for hospital patrons that would be otherwise unavailable in their respective restaurants. Two chefs that will be cooking at the station in upcoming months are Rachel Klein of Liquid Art House and Tiffani Faison, head chef of Sweet Cheeks Q. The hospital will host one celebrity chef and one local chef each month, and in the times when no guest chef is available, the hospital employs two certified executive chefs.

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff
Healthy samples from the “Guilt-Free Grill” were on offer during the Chef's Playground unveiling.

In addition, Chef’s Playground will offer a Parent’s Night Out, which will bring together 12 to 24 local families who have children in the hospital for a private five-course meal cooked by the guest chefs.

Monday’s unveiling featured several events: a fashion show, to demonstrate the new cafeteria uniforms, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and a “Chopped” competition, modeled on the popular Food Network television program. Several local chefs competed in a set time limit to produce meals, which were judged by seven children from the hospital and Maneet Chauhan, judge of Chopped.

“What you’re seeing today is a transformation,” said Shawn Goldrick, Patient Support Services director at Children’s Hospital, “that will go beyond the walls of Boston Pediatric to change the paradigm of food services.”

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff