Dan and I are fans of Kitchen Nightmares, Masterchef, and Hell's Kitchen; so we know very well what the production company is called. At the end of each episode, I'm assuming it's Ramsay's young child, who says "One Potato, Two Potato!" Dan and I can't help cringing, and then repeat it over and over, to irritate each other.
So I immediately looked up 'One Potato, Two Potato' only to find that it's quite impossible to contact anyone on the staff directly. Aside from that, I really wanted Ramsay himself to read my letter. So, I thought of other ways to get my message to him. Facebook! I wrote a private message to whoever handles Gordon Ramsay's Facebook Page. I pleaded with them to forward my message to Ramsay himself. I got no response from this attempt.
Next I thought if I applied for a job at Ramsay's restaurant in NY on 151 W 54th st, I could attach my letter as the CV on the application. I filled out the application using all open fields to get my message forwarded to Chef Gordon Ramsay. I don't know if a human actually looked through the submissions - but it seems unlikely.
So, after a day or two I got an email saying I wasn't right for the job.
I thought of doing an open letter on facebook in hopes it would somehow be brought to his attention. Then I noticed a casting call for a health show that Optomen Productions was set to do in the future. I thought this is the only way I can be sure that someone will really read what I have to say. So I emailed the casting department at Optomen. This is the letter I wrote:
Dear Optomen Casting,
My name is Letha Rodman Melchior, I’m very very ill. I have both breast cancer, and melanoma stage IV, which of course, is the worst of the two. I've just been released from Duke University Hospital where I've endured a 7 day stay. While there, I thought that I would present Optomen Productions and Chef Gordon Ramsay with a challenge. A challenge which could be quite impossible, but if anyone could be successful it would be Optomen Productions and Chef Ramsay. I would like for your team to take on Duke University Hospital’s food system and reconstruct it into something that's nutritional and something that the hospital can be proud of. Duke University Hospital is one of the top 10 rated Hospitals in the USA; why it lacks in nutritional food is beyond me. I know Food Services is a problem in a lot of hospitals worldwide; I also know that now is the time to meet with Food Services at Duke University Hospital, because they are going to try improving their system in May 2014. I don't have much faith that they'll get it right. The 'Triangle Area' in North Carolina has an abundance of local farms and resources to pull from. Please think about coming to Duke University Hospital and help them make the right choice.
As it stands now all hospital meals for patients at Duke are contracted out to a company called Aramark. I can not tell you how bad that food is. I know there are many hospital food jokes out in the world - but this is not a joke. As I laid in bed for 7 days the food was inedible. I tried to think of things that they couldn't get wrong; like macaroni and cheese. It was if someone had regurgitated on to a plate. One piece of breaded fish; it came as paper-thin deep-fried bit of rubber blackened on all sides, so hard that it couldn't be chewed. There was only one bite in that, that was edible. A bagel, that if thrown up against the wall would shatter into a million slivers. I actually lost over 10 pounds by being given inedible food.
A friend of mine happen to bring me some food from Whole Foods, with a bowl of fresh fruit to start. One bite of a beautiful strawberry and I was sent to heaven! I couldn't believe how my body responded, I could feel it helping me get better - out of one bite!! I realized there were other people who may have been sicker than I was, who are depending on nutrition to help them get better. Not anything fancy, just basic nutrition!
The Duke Nutritionist came by and I had to ask her why the hospital food had no nutritional value. She said that the food was contracted out by Aramark and the food was cooked off site; flash frozen, then sorted at the hospital, reconstituted and reheated, then sent on rounds to the rooms. By this time, the food ceased to be food. I would hardly call it stomach filler. Truly most people wouldn't feed this food to their dog. I couldn't understand why a hospital would contract food out unless the food was nutritional. The woman said that most cancer patients can't taste their food and complain anyway. She said they couldn't make everyone happy.
Cancer patients NEED nutrition to stay well! I got very mad. I said I would get Chef Gordon Ramsay to come to Duke and get things changed! So I'm pleading with you to come to Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC and take over. Make this very great hospital and cancer clinic better by bringing basic nutrition into the program. I know it would save lives. Truly. I didn't start to get better until I had my friends bring me real food and real fruit.
The Duke Food Services sent about 3 other people around to take my complaint. I’m not the complaining type - but I do want to stand up for myself and others to get basic needs. Nutritional food in a hospital is a high priority for me.
Please consider this. Whoever reads this, please present this to Chef Gordon Ramsay, or Stephanie Angelides or one of One Potato Two Potato development, or one of the Optomen production staff.
Please, I beg of you, it is wrong for sick people to be given un-nutritional food.
I can get contact names and numbers for you and I know that Duke Hospital is going to try to ‘tweak’ the food system in May, 2014.
I can go into more detail if needed. Please help.
Letha Rodman Melchior cancer warrior!
This was the reply I got:
I don't know if they really did forward my letter. I'd like to think that they did. I'm still thinking of the open letter on Facebook. Wouldn't it be great if Gordon Ramsay did come to Duke University Hospital and change things? I don't know how long, or what it's going to take to have better food worldwide in hospitals, and schools.
It's appalling that these big companies are doling out substandard food. Lord knows what deals are made with suppliers to Aramark. And what kickbacks and deals Aramark and other companies like it are making with the US hospitals.
I was sent some great links and found a few others online. It's going to be so hard to change things.
If anyone knows how to get this letter to Chef Gordon Ramsay, Please let me know.