A collaboration between an eminent heart surgeon, a Michelin-starred chef and a global cardiovascular device provider has led to the launch of a unique, surgically inspired recipe book, conceived to help surgeons take their skills practice out of the operating room and into the kitchen.
The Heart Surgeon’s Cookbook is the brainchild of New York-based Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon Dr. Nirav Patel and Fredrik Berselius, holder of two Michelin stars and founder and owner of Aska restaurant in New York. They accepted the challenge from the global medtech provider Getinge to create a cookbook that not only celebrates the physical and mental dexterity of both doctor and chef, but also serves as a unique training tool for heart surgeons, no matter what stage of their career.
All nine recipes, conceived and developed by Fredrik and Patel include at least one surgical technique familiar to surgeons that puts dexterity to the test: including precise cutting, injecting in a small, confined area, surgical stitching, anatomic dissecting and repetition, plus gentle handling and concentration skills.
Patel, who performs approximately 350 surgeries every year, and enjoys cooking as a hobby, says this was the first time he’d applied his surgical skills in the kitchen:
“A special cookbook for heart surgeons, for dexterity training. I just couldn’t say no. Dexterity leads to precision. Without precision, surgery is not effective. You must understand the importance of being effortlessly nimble and precise. It’s not that hard to see the parallels with high-end cooking.”
Fredrik, who is originally from Stockholm but moved to New York in 2000 to pursue his career, adds: “The most exciting challenge with this project was to try to look at food through the eyes of a surgeon. It was a phenomenal experience from start to finish. First, I presented some ideas for what we could do together. Then we had a great conversation to improve the ideas from a manual skills perspective. I really enjoyed going through the dishes step-by-step to adjust, tweak and add tools that surgeons use.”
Patel says that cooking at home helps him to relax and take his mind off the operating room, while also helping to maintain his dexterity and focus. He stresses that his fellow surgeons and junior surgeons can use Getinge’s The Heart Surgeon’s Cookbook in a similar way.
And he stresses that even with his dexterity skills, he found the cooking tasks challenging, including stitching the Savoy Cabbage without ripping it, or making twine out of leek. He says all nine recipes offer “phenomenal training for your fingers and your mind and all with an acute attention to detail”, adding: “If I could sum up the collaboration, I would say the connection is precision, attention to detail, preparation and teamwork. I will definitely tell my students to practice using this book. It’s a great way to relax, take your mind off the operating room, but still be a surgeon and cook for your family and friends.”
Carsten Blecker, chief commercial officer at Getinge and dentist by training knows well how important the manual skills and continuous practice of the latter are for any surgeon, Carsten adds, “The Heart Surgeon’s Cookbook celebrates the phenomenal skills of surgeons and is a great tool to put into practice one’s dexterity”.
He continues, “The skill and precision of Patel and Chef Fredrik in developing and creating recipes for the cookbook is inspirational; we’re making it available to surgeons globally so that everyone can use it to practice their skills, have fun and create sophisticated dishes for family and friends.”
The Heart Surgeon’s Cookbook recipes developed by Fredrik and Dr. Patel include, but are not limited to Kingfish Rose with Green Gooseberry; Roasted Quail with Truffle and Ramp; Venison and Savoy Cabbage and Sea Scallop and Turnip in Warm Broth.