Chef & Caretaker
My name is Chef Matt Biga and I’m a Sous Chef at McLaren Macomb with Morrison Healthcare. At first glance I often get the question, “you’re a chef at a hospital?” Probably because being a 25 year-old and having tattooed forearms makes me the stereotypical image of a trendy restaurant chef. Upon graduating culinary school, I looked at entering the restaurant industry, but something just didn’t quite feel right about it. While I do enjoy tweezer work and the abstract art in a fine dining setting, I am attracted to hospital dining for a very different reason. At the age of four, my father was struck ill with a disease called Devic’s Syndrome, or Neuromyelitis Optica, paralyzing him from mid-chest down. I was raised as a caretaker, and as a result I found myself falling into hospital dining.
I was employed as a cook with a self-op hospital kitchen when it transitioned to Morrison Healthcare in the beginning of 2016. I was graduating from The Culinary Institute of Michigan in June 2016 and beginning my search for a full-time job. When the account transitioned, I read my employee handbook form cover to cover, and the MIT Program caught my eye. I approached the Corporate Executive Chef the very next time he visited the account and asked what I needed to do to sign up. With their support and enthusiasm, I was enrolled in the program that summer and on my way to a successful career with Compass Group.
The MIT program was the perfect environment to learn how to manage people, impact the business, and get experience with Compass Group and hospital systems. Between it and culinary school, I feel empowered to be a leader in my everyday environment and gained confidence in myself for a successful career in contract foodservice.
This opportunity wasn’t met without its challenges. My father’s health declined rapidly throughout 2016 until he passed in September of that year. This pivotal moment in my life, and the experiences I’ve had growing up will always give me a unique perspective into a patient’s life, allowing me to be more empathetic, rather than just sympathetic. I love working with patients because it allows me to fulfill the part of me that is a caretaker, and I still get to deliver passion and flavor in my craft.
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