Orchard Hospital's Nutritional Services Department has offered delicious lunches to go for some time with the menu posted each Friday in The Gridley Herald. With the addition of a new commercial stove, thanks to the Hospital's Foundation, burgers and grilled sandwiches are now available for not only the staff but  the public also.

Lunches are available from noon to 1:15 p.m., Monday through Friday and orders can be sent in by email to: SmokinHotGrill@orchardhospital.com.

The days of joking about the standard "hospital food," have long been over at Orchard Hospital, known to serve very tasty meals.

 Choices at the grill are All Beef Burger, Spicy Black Bean Burger, Chicken Sandwich, Veggie Chicken Sandwich, Grilled Cheese Sandwich, All Beef Hot Dog and Burger of the Month along with Roast Beef, Turkey or Ham Sandwiches. Salads are available to go with the burgers and sandwiches such as homemade potato, homemade pasta or homemade coleslaw.

The new two oven stove with a grill isn't the only reason the Smokin Hot Grill began. Nutritional Supervisor Keith Widmar has worked in the dietary field since 1986 and came from a Woodland nursing home to work at Orchard Hospital. He had only worked at skilled nursing facilities and this is his first hospital.

"I am having more fun here than at any other job I have had," he explained. "I've been here one year and it is my dream job."

Of course when great food is being served it isn't hard to make friends especially when he has been known to hand out favorite cookies to staff members.

"The people here are so nice," he stated.

Widmar is grateful for the new stove which replaced one that was in use 28 years. He is also excited about a new milkshake machine coming next month compliments of COO Tracy Atkins and CFO Jennie Pipoly. The Smokin Hot Grill serves cappuccinos, mochas and hot chocolate.

When Widmar came to work at Orchard the average number of employees eating in the dietary department was around 15. He now has an average of 40 eating there each day.

Widmar grew up in Yuba City and has been married to his wife Renita for 27 years. They have three children and four grandchildren. He enjoys riding motorcycles and flying remote control helicopters and airplanes when he isn't cooking for patients, residents and staff at Orchard Hospital not to mention the public now.

Of course Widmar's favorite part of his job is the cooking and his fellow employees sing the praises of his pumpkin cheesecake and fresh soups, served everyday.

All food is cooked from scratch at the hospital, which means after cooking all day, he doesn't do a lot of the cooking at home.

His favorite thing to make is jambalaya and he can cook just about anything - unless it means baking.

"I don't know why I can't bake. I supposed I could if you made me," he said smiling.

Baking is handled by Julie Thompson who bakes excellent cookies and cakes and is also very popular amongst the staff.

Given full reins in the kitchen, Keith says there are no challenges and he enjoys coming to work. He has 11 employees who help make it possible to provide good, nutritious meals to patients of the hospital, residents at Hovlid Skilled Nursing, staff and now the public.

"I would love to have more customers," Keith stated. Besides the hours of noon to 1:15 p.m., the dietary offers dinner from 6 to 7:15 p.m., which is the regular menu, not the grill.

"I'm always open for suggestions. If I can cook it, I will put it on the menu," he stated.

Homemade Belgian “Wacky Waffles” are served on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., which includes strawberries or blueberries and whipped cream.

Once the milkshake machine arrives, hamburgers, shakes and fries will be offered for just $5 Monday through Friday. The kitchen serves 100 percent Black Angus beef.

Nacho Day is Wednesday and Chili Cheese Fries are available each Thursday.

Because the Nutritional Services Department does not handle cash, the public can purchase food tickets in advance at the registration area. Lunches and Dinners are served to-go as the cafeteria is often crowded at peak hours with staff on break.

The way to people's hearts is through their stomachs, so Keith is making many people happy while making friends.