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Chef Ned Bell Leads Culinary Direction for Planetary Health Pilot at VGH

Updated: Mar 18

For Immediate Release

March 19, 2024

Chef Ned Bell Champions Flavour, Nutrition and Sustainable, Local Ingredients for Planetary Health Menu Pilot at Vancouver General Hospital

Vancouver, B.C. - For the past six months, inpatients receiving care at Vancouver Coastal Health’s (VCH) Vancouver General Hospital have been able to fuel their healing with a diverse selection of new delicious, nutritious and environmentally sustainable menu items, thanks to a Planetary Health Menu Pilot project.

The Planetary Health Menu Pilot project was led by Dr. Annie Lalande, surgical resident and PhD student in Resources, Environment and Sustainability at University of British Columbia (UBC), and Tiffany Chiang, Director, Food Service Transformation and Strategic Projects at VCH. They brought together food services staff, dietitians, clinicians and planetary health experts to work alongside Ned Bell, renowned chef and sustainable food champion, in developing the menu items.

More than 20 new menu items have been developed to offer patients a diversity of choices, incorporating patient preferences and ingredients with lower environmental impacts. These include dishes such as Steelhead Trout with Tomato Miso Dressing, Creamy Coconut Chickpea Curry with Cauliflower and Cashews, served with Mango Chutney and a Korean Gochujang Bowl. The new dishes were evaluated by patient partners who provided valuable feedback on the meal’s desirability during times of illness. Dishes that were favourably reviewed were served on a trial basis to inpatients at Vancouver General Hospital. Feedback was solicited through surveys and interviews throughout the process, and helped tailor the dishes to patient preferences. Food waste rates were also measured to complement patient feedback in determining how the new dishes were received.

“Sustainable food and food systems have been a passion of mine throughout my career,” says Chef Ned Bell. “Working to develop menu items that are sustainable and also appeal to a wide variety of tastes on such a massive scale was challenging, but the work we’ve done here has been so rewarding.”

Bell has long been a vocal, hands-on proponent of serving up a diet that is rich in locally sourced ingredients that centres on plant-based and nutrient dense foods, complemented by high-quality animal proteins and dairy products. These are the same recommendations of Canada’s Dietary Guidelines.

The Canadian chef had first-hand experience with hospital menus when his wife spent five days at Vancouver General Hospital recovering from cancer surgery in 2019. "It's safe to say that the food wasn't inviting to eat at a time when building up her strength and health was critical," shares Bell. He shared his opinions on the importance of healthy and appetizing food in recovery, which were picked up by his wife’s surgical oncologist, and the now Regional Medical Director for Planetary Health at Vancouver Coastal Health,  Dr. Andrea MacNeill. “Dr. MacNeill and I started talking about what we could both do to change that, what our contribution could be, and years later… here we are. The progress is exciting.”

For more information, read Vancouver Coastal Health’s recent press release on the Planetary Health Menu Pilot project here


RECIPE: The Ultimate Power Bowl: Lentils, Quinoa, Barley, with a Honey and Apple Cider Vinaigrette


Power Bowl:

1/2 cup red quinoa

1/2 cup golden quinoa

1/2 cup pearl barley

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

2 cups chopped lettuce (romaine)

Honey and Apple Cider Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable or seed oil

1/4 cup simple olive oil

1/4 apple cider

3 tbsp prepared dijon mustard

2 tbsp kosher salt

Blend everything together

Method: Cook the pearl barley in boiling salted water until tender. Cook the red quinoa in boiling salted water until tender. Mix the quinoas and the cranberries and the hazelnuts with the vinaigrette (enough for it to taste good but not be overly saucy). Serve on top of the chopped lettuce. Garnish with dried apple slices.

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About Ned Bell:

Ned Bell is a well-known Canadian culinary talent who has forged a path as a chef, sustainable foods advocate, keynote speaker and educator. As one of the country’s leading chefs, he uses his voice, outgoing personality, and indomitable spirit to stand up for the world’s lakes, oceans, rivers, in addition to hyper-local farming sustainability through brand ambassador roles. Based in British Columbia, Ned is the co-owner of Hatch Hospitality, Chef Ambassador at Buy BC and Ocean Wise, Culinary Director at Planetary Health, board member and co-chair of sustainability at the Chefs Table Society, and as culinary and restaurant consultant at Hatch Hospitality Inc.

Learn more at or connect socially @nedbell.

Media Contact:

Krista Lochhead

Hatch Comms


dba Ned Bell Culinary


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