(WMC TV) - CHEF OF THE WEEK: Chef Miles McMath, Director of Culinary Operations, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, (901) 595-3300, www.stjude.org
Five chefs stand at his attention.
80 support staffers hop to it on his culinary operations team.
Nearly 4,000 hungry cure-hunters and almost 300 patients a day with everything from dietary restrictions to unlimited "room-service" requests place their orders.
Chef Miles McMath's job at St. Jude is about the closest thing to being the executive chef of the White House.
"(My chefs) can't cure cancer, but we can support the people who do," boasted a proud McMath as he showcased St. Jude's Kay Kafe, a 16-station food court inside the hospital.
You name it, they serve it: freshly-rolled sushi, pizza baked in wood-burning ovens, a deli, barbecue from four parts of the country and fresh ingredients right out of the hospital's own gardens or from an Oxford, MS, roving farmers market.
"It's kind of like a really diverse kind of market," St. Jude employee Clifford Froelich said over a lunch of sushi crab roll with tempura. "Italian food or Asian food or just good old Southern home-cooking, they've got it."
McMath got his chops at restaurants in Kentucky and Mississippi, including the Grand Casino's kitchens in Gulfport and Tunica. He eventually opened three restaurants of his own.
But McMath's a sucker for St. Jude and its kids.
Four years ago, he joined the hospital to direct its culinary operations. He designed the work flow of St. Jude's kitchen to serve its patients like a short-order restaurant.
"Kids basically place an order down from upstairs, just like a hotel. Any time of the day, 7 to 7. And we just fix the order," said McMath. "So we get a kid who wants fish tacos, we have all the ingredients to make it."
He also enjoys mentoring the kids, like 17-year-old bone cancer patient Nicholas Gagnon of Jacksonville, FL.
Gagnon's a budding chef himself. McMath shares private cooking lessons with him between bouts of chemotherapy to keep Gagnon's culinary spirit burning.
"He's kind of keeping that fire going while I'm here at St. Jude's until I get back home," said Gagnon after treating me to one of his Louisiana strawberry parfaits with granola, biscuit, orange zest and whipped cream.
"It just refreshes him," said Nicholas' mom, Suzette Gagnon. "He smiles more. He's happier. It kind of perks him up when he's down."
"We're the department that should be having fun and giving them something to look forward to," smiled McMath.
SCORES OF THE WEEK:
Tops Bar-B-Q, 4183 Summer Ave., Berclair/E. Memphis, 97 on March 30
Lenny's Sub Shop, 3750 Hacks Cross Rd., Southwind Area/SE Memphis, 97 on March 27
Houston's Restaurant, 5000 Poplar Ave., White Station Area/E. Memphis, 97 on March 29
Honeybaked Ham, 5081 Park Ave., White Station Area/E. Memphis, 97 on March 29
Subway, 1674 Whitten Rd., East Memphis, 96 on March 30
Milano's Pizza, 7625 Highway 64, Border of E. Memphis/Bartlett, 96 on March 26
Burger King, 3966 Park Ave., U of M Park Ave. Campus Area, 96 on March 23
Milano's Pizza, 1740 N. Germantown Pkwy, Cordova, TN, 96 on March 28
Pietro Pizza & Subs, 7717 Hwy. 70, Bartlett/Ellendale, TN, 96 on March 27
Wendy's, 7920 Highway 64, Bartlett, TN, 96 on March 26
Buffalo Wild Wings, 3770 Hacks Cross Rd., Southwind Area/SE Memphis, 96 on March 27
Taco Bell, 826 S. Third St., South Memphis, 95 on March 28
Perkins Restaurant, 5112 Park Ave., White Station Area/E. Memphis, 94 on March 29
El Molino Mexican Restaurant, 6496 Summer Ave., Bartlett, TN, 93 on March 29
Bangkok Alley, 715 W. Brookhaven Circle, White Station Area/E. Memphis, 93 on March 30
Neil's, 5727 Quince Rd., East Memphis, 93 on March 27
KFC, 3215 S. Perkins Rd., Parkway Village/SE Memphis, 93 on March 27
Subway, 2388 Summer Ave., Binghampton/E. Memphis, 92 on March 26
A&R BBQ, 3721 Hickory Hill Rd., Hickory Hill/SE Memphis, 92 on March 28
Crumpy's Hot Wings, 4040 St. Elmo Ave., Raleigh/NE Memphis, 92 on March 27
Sonic Drive-In, 7636 Hwy. 70, Bartlett, TN, 92 on March 27
Brookhaven Pub & Grill, 695 W. Brookhaven Circle, White Station Area/E. Memphis, 91 on March 30
Chick-Fil-A, 4916 Poplar Ave., White Station Area/E. Memphis, 91 on March 26
Humdingers, 6300 Poplar Ave., East Memphis, 91 on March 28
Wing's House, 630 N. Highland St., Highland Heights/E. Memphis, 91 on March 27
Popeye's, 4720 Showcase Blvd., Parkway Village/SE Memphis, 91 on March 27
Best Wings of Memphis, 2390 Summer Ave., Binghampton/E. Memphis, 90 on March 26
Bamboo Garden Restaurant, 2235 Whitten Rd., Hillshire/E. Memphis, 90 on March 29
Sonic Drive-In, 3540 Covington Pike, Bartlett, TN, 90 on March 26
Longhorn Steakhouse, 3581 S. Houston Levee Rd., Collierville, TN, 89 on March 28
Burger King, 3951 Covington Pike, Raleigh/NE Memphis, 89 on March 26
Sheridan's Frozen Custard, 8075 Macon Rd., Cordova, TN, 89 on March 26
McAlister's Deli, 3482 Plaza Ave., Poplar Plaza/E. Memphis, 88 on March 27
Howard's Donuts, 8130 Bellevue Pkwy, Cordova, TN, 88 on March 28
Sekisui Bartlett, 2990 Kirby Whitten Rd., Bartlett, TN, 87 on March 30
Dunkin Donuts, 1674 Whitten Rd., East Memphis, 87 on March 30
Church's Fried Chicken, 2442 Summer Ave., Binghampton/E. Memphis, 87 on March 26
Super Submarine Shop, 614 S. Highland St., U of M Area, 87 on March 26
Supreme Hot Wings, 1674 Whitten Rd., East Memphis, 87 on March 26
IHOP, 2810 Wolfcreek Pkwy, Cordova/Wolfchase Area, 86 on March 28
Mi Pueblo, 3750 Hacks Cross Rd., Southwind Area/SE Memphis, 86 on March 27
Formosa, 6685 Quince Rd., Kirby/Quince Area/E. Memphis, 85 on March 30
Grand Buffet, 2015 Exeter Rd., Germantown, TN, 83 on March 27
IHOP, 4725 Showcase Blvd, Parkway Village/SE Memphis, 83 on March 27
Saito Restaurant, 6600 State Rd., Bartlett, TN, 83 on March 27
La Hacienda, 1760 N. Germantown Pkwy, Cordova, TN, 83 on March 28
T.J. Mulligan's, 6635 Quince Rd., Kirby/Quince Area/E. Memphis, 82, date not listed
Daylight Donuts, 3711 Lamar Ave., Southeast Memphis, 79 on March 30
Danver's, 7970 Hwy. 64, Bartlett, TN, 77 on March 26
Lil' Anthony's Café, 3700 Lamar Ave., Southeast Memphis, 65 on March 27 (FAILURE)