All Shriners Hospitals for Children employees are called upon to support the mission of providing the best specialty pediatric care to children, regardless of their families’ ability to pay. While not all positions and departments are directly involved with patient care, all staff contribute to that mission in some way every day.
Boston Executive Chef Don Golden has been working in kitchens for more than three decades. He joined the Boston Shriners Hospital about two-and-a-half years ago. A seasoned traveler who understands the unique tastes of Boston’s diverse patient population, Golden is constantly infusing his daily menus with international offerings and flavors to make patients feel more at home.
Earlier this year, Golden traveled to Southeast Asia with a group of local doctors. While in Vietnam, he had the opportunity to visit a clinic where he witnessed the lengths families went through to get an appointment with one of the visiting American doctors. The quality of care sometimes taken for granted in the United States was cherished and applauded by the local families, some of whom even broke into song to thank the visitors. Inspired and motivated, Golden wanted to help. “I realized when I came back that I might be the chef at Shriners but I can do something,” he said. “We are all empowered here. All I had to do was to take the inspiration and get started.”
During his time working at the Boston Shriners Hospital, Golden has come to realize that one of the biggest challenges to caring for children from overseas is getting them to Boston. He decided to start there. “I can’t look at the big picture,” he said. “I need to work one child at a time, helping the hospital bring him or her to Shriners for care.”
Using his culinary skills, Golden decided to collaborate with the hospital’s donor development department to host a pop-up dinner to raise awareness. Proceeds from ticket sales would benefit the hospital’s transportation fund. A pop-up dinner is a small, intimate event, organized rather impromptu, where the chef and kitchen come to the guests. Golden secured a location near the Boston Shriners Hospital and invited members of the community to attend for an evening of fine dining and wine pairings inspired by his journey through Southeast Asia. His vision was to bring guests along his itinerary. Every course was served with a story and photos from his travels were on display.
Along with sharing his memories, Golden discussed his inspiration for the event with guests, many of whom were unaware of the scope of services Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston provides. The response was overwhelming. Guests were wowed by Golden’s cooking and moved by his motivation to help families access the care their children need.
Golden is now working with Donor Development to expand the pop-up concept to other neighborhoods and groups around the city as a means of raising awareness and funds for patient transportation. He is already looking at dates for 2017 and has started to think about which country or region he’ll draw inspiration from for the next menu. “I can do more and I will do more,” he said. “When you can bring hope to someone, just to take a little hardship out of their life, that’s what’s it’s all about.”
We look forward to seeing what Chef Don cooks up next.