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New D.C. Restaurant Reimagines Hospital Food

Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, a longtime judge on Bravo reality TV show “Top Chef,” has debuted a new restaurant aimed at providing healthier hospital food options for workers and patients’ families.

Root and Sprig debuted July 6 at Washington D.C.’s Children’s National Research and Innovation Campus.

The restaurant’s menu emphasizes vegan options. Its only meat option is white meat, in an effort to curb the consumption of red meat, which has been linked to negative health impacts and has a larger environmental footprint. Root and Sprig’s menu features fresh sandwiches, salads, plates, and breakfast items that packaged in a refrigerated case so people can easily grab on-the-go.

The restaurant’s primary customers will be hospital doctors, nurses, and general workers, who have historically turned to junk food during busy shifts that leave little time for full meal breaks, reported the Washington Post (July 7). The Atlantic reported that the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine found that in 2015, 20% of hospitals surveyed housed a fast-food chain on their campuses.

The driving force behind Root and Sprig came from co-founder and chief operating officer Dan Guaricci, whose parents both work as healthcare professionals. The vision is to utilize Colicchio and the team’s culinary and hospitality expertise to better serve “the population that works tirelessly to keep us all healthy day in and day out,” according to a statement on the restaurant’s website.


Meanwhile, other celebrities in the food industry are doing goodwill work, too. That list includes the likes of chef José Andrés, who started World Central Kitchen (WCK) more than 10 years ago. WCK is an emergency food relief, non-profit organization that provides hot meals to victims of disasters around the world, like the COVID-19 pandemic, and also trains chefs in developing countries. Recently, Andrés received a $100 million award from Jeff Bezos, commending his public-service efforts that will go toward expanding World Central Kitchen.

Another household name, chef Guy Fieri, has raised close to $25 million for the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF), as noted by FOOD & WINE, which supports restaurant workers struggling financially during to the pandemic. According to the RERF website, more than 43,000 restaurant employees across all 50 U.S. states have been approved for $500 grants.