If you ever meet Michelle Bryan the first thing she will do is offer you a refreshing glass of tea, an ice cold glass of water, or a fresh out of the oven mouthwatering chocolate chip cookie. Hospitality runs through her veins and you can see nothing but kindness when you look into her eyes. She has a kindred spirit and an incredible way of looking at things.
Bryan, Culinary Services Manager for Midland Care, has a variety of education and a wealth of broad experience under her belt. But she won’t tell you that, because she will be focusing on making sure you feel welcomed and hospitable.
She graduated from Florida State University and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian Studies and a Master’s Degree in Tibetan and Buddhist Studies. After graduation, she lived in Tibet for almost two years. There she learned how to cook with no hot water, only cold water. She only cooked using one gas burner, no refrigerator, no microwaves; and the absolute bare minimum of tools and utensils.
Where she lived in Tibet is technically not recognized as its own country anymore. It’s considered a providence of China; north of India, in the western part of China. For decades it was closed to tourists.
Bryan also graduated from the Johnson and Wales University Culinary School in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Family brought her to Kansas. Luck and a phone call brought her to Midland Care.
The skillset, in addition to the education, she brought back is unique. When she combines that, with the way she views her role, it makes for a beautiful combination. Bryan understands the importance of making every meal with love. Especially since she doesn’t know which meal will be the patients last.
Bryan said, “When the Hospice patients come in, they are eating and then they slowly decline. And then they get to the point where they stop eating. We never know which one of those meals is going to be the last one they eat. If there are things they really like, we try to make sure that they get them. If a family member says their loved one really likes a certain meal, we will take care of it.”
She used an example of a patient who was craving a Strawberry Daiquiri, so she made her a virgin drink. Even though the patient wasn’t able to finish very much of the drink, she enjoyed every sip.
Since “The House” is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and 365 days per year Bryan and her staff work holidays. While some would be bitter about giving up their personal time, Bryan considers it is a sacred honor. They even provide buffets for patients and their families on holidays.
“I love working on the holidays here, because the families are so relieved. They don’t have to worry. For Easter we made special baskets for patients who were still eating. We even hid Easter eggs for families who were visiting,” Bryan said, “The last thing they should have to worry about, on the holidays, is what they should have to do for their meal. We have the honor of setting up a buffet, so the patients and their families, can come and eat together.”
While the Hospice census changes daily, they have the Residence Center in the basement, they feed them three times a day.
In addition, they always have fresh soup, homemade cookies, and a menu for both patients and their loved ones to order off of. Bryan said, “Food is comfort. It brings people together. That is what we do here. We bring people together.”
In addition to being incredibly talented and intelligent, Bryan is also humble. She repeatedly thanked her team, the House parents, the volunteers, and other departments who have stepped in. She stated, “The House” wouldn’t be held to the high standards it is, without them and their hard work.