BlueCross BlueShield's executive chef Tim Mulderink runs a kitchen that serves about half of the insurer's roughly 5,000 employees every day, and he's never bought a stick of butter to do it.

"Chef Tim," as he is known around the kitchens of BlueCross BlueShield's new Cameron Hill headquarters, supervises a staff of 30 employees who each work day churn out loads of healthy food options, including egg white omelets, turkey burgers and lots of vegetables.

He's even convinced a few employees to try out foods that are new to them, including tofu and turkey sausage.

Sample fare

Some of the food served at the BlueCross BlueShield cafeteria:

Turkey burgers

Lemon sage chicken

Ham and cheese pizza with whole wheat crust

Turkey pot pie

Tilapia with herbs

Turnip greens

Navy beans



Personal glance

* Name: Tim Mulderink

* Position: Executive chef at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

* Age: 54

* Education: Culinary Institute of America, New York; Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago; American Culinary Federation

* Personal: He and his wife, Louise, have been married 30 years and have two children, Jolene, 28, and son T.J., 27.

"It's a cultural shift, that is what's going on," Mr. Mulderink said. "A lot of times we think it is going to take a long time (to change people's minds), but we have to make an impact now, and I think it's working."

As he looks over the gleaming new mixers, baking racks and countertops in the kitchen, it's clear this job is what Mr. Mulderink has been working for his entire career. It's easy to look back now, over 36 years in the food service industry, at how every job he had led him here.

"This is heaven," he said.

Mr. Mulderink, 54, joined Sodexo Magic, the company contracted to run the BCBS's dining hall, in December 2008 and was asked to make the food served there to fit in with the insurer's culture of wellness.

To fulfill that mandate, the head chef is forced on a daily basis with such challenges as locating large amounts of whole wheat pasta or perfecting a whole wheat biscuit.

"It's been a challenge for all of us and Tim has done everything we could expect," said Neal Seigler, resident district manager for Sodexo Magic. "This is an extension of what (BCBS) wants, and Tim is at the front line doing it."

Mr. Mulderink has been working as a chef for 36 years. He started cooking for his large family -- four brothers and sisters -- as a boy growing up in Chicago and entered chef school immediately after graduating from high school.

"Julia Child was my favorite," he said.

He is certified as an executive chef through the American Culinary Federation and is a member of the American Academy of Chefs, an honor society.

He trained at a cooking school in Chicago and also the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Over the years, he owned a restaurant called Sherman's House in Chicago.

Shortly after buying the restaurant, Mr. Mulderink's wife of 30 years, Louise, gave birth to their daughter Jolene, now 28. Soon after, son T.J. was born and the dream of running a restaurant was traded for something more conducive to raising a family -- the world of corporate food service.

But these days Mr. Mulderink enjoys spending time making the perfect whole wheat biscuit to go with the turkey gravy and egg white omelets on the breakfast menu at Blue Cross.

"It's surprising after they taste it, they say oh, that wasn't so bad,'" he said.