Chicken Breast Supremes and Black Hat Chefs

Cary, NC – In this story, Chef Jim McGrody, Director of Culinary and Nutrition Services at Rex Hospital, shares a recipe for Chicken Supremes and explains about Black Hat Chefs. Photo by John Herschell.

Excellent food is happening in the Triangle.

There is a place right here in the Raleigh area that is training its cooks to become chefs. It is not a culinary school, it is not a chain  restaurant, it is not even a swanky boutique restaurant… it is a Hospital! Yes a Hospital!

Rex Healthcare in Raleigh has an amazing culinary training program in place. Our cadre of Culinary Institute of America trained chefs are teaching our cooks how to transform hospital food into restaurant quality food. Rex has done just that. We have 14 cooks that have gone through the first phase of the 4-week culinary program.

Black Hats

In the first phase, our cooks are taught the fundamentals of sautéing, roasting, knife skills, food costing and food safety. They also visit  the farmers market and local fish markets and learn about sustainable foods.

Our students then plan, prepare and execute an elaborate meal for 12 judges at the end of the week. If they pass this practical test and a written exam, they will become  “Black Hat Chefs”.

Some menu items our Black Hat Chefs have created are: sautéed chicken breast with a tarragon, chervil infused demi-glace finished with cream served with duchess potatoes and a melody of roasted vegetables. They served a North Carolina Peach Tarte Tatin finished with fresh Chantilly cream for dessert.

Another group did roasted red snapper with a fresh shaved fennel and roasted pepper salad served with a wild mushroom risotto and grilled asparagus. They finished the meal with a hazelnut crème Brule. Not your “normal” hospital food.

In our first weeks training one of the competencies we focus on is the proper techniques of sautéing.

Recipe: Chicken Breast Supremes

Here is a sample menu of what we teach our Black Hat Chefs.

Chicken Breast Supremes with Fine Herb sauce

Chicken Supremes are boneless chicken breast with the first wing joint still attached.

  • 4 each chicken Supremes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flour as needed
  • Clarified butter as needed
  • 2 T fine diced shallots
  • 4 oz dry white wine
  • 8 oz chicken stock
  • 4 oz veal stock.. Beef stock can be substituted
  • 4 oz heavy cream
  • 2 T chopped parsley
  • 1 T chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 T chopped chervil (Optional)


  1. Dry chicken breast and season with salt and pepper, dredge in flour and shake off excess
  2. In a hot pan with 2 oz clarified butter , place
    breast skin side down and cook for 3-4 minutes, flip over and cook on other side
  3. Remove chicken from pan and pour off excess grease. Add shallots and sauté until soft.
  4. Deglaze pan with wine and reduce by half
  5. Add stock and reduce by half
  6. Add cream and herbs. Replace chicken in sauce and cook until sauce has slightly thickened and chicken is cooked through.

Jim McGrody is a chef and author of “What We Feed Our Patients” – a story about how a  small handful of chefs have changed hospital food forever. Visit for more information. 

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