Joe Osegueda is one of the many people who keep Lompoc Valley Medical Center running – from behind the scenes. A 25-year LVMC employee, Joe is a cook in the Dietary Services Department. He’s one of the dietary staff responsible for preparing patient meals, and he’s also often the person coordinating the preparation of 1,500 meals every month for beneficiaries of Meals on Wheels – a service few people realize is provided by the hospital district.
A Chicago native, Joe was in his mid-30s when he applied at the former hospital for a job in the kitchen. He was initially hired as a relief worker and now is a Cook. He didn’t know much about kitchens or dietary needs when he started out but has learned on the job.
“I was in the military,” he says of his Air Force days. “We have to learn to adapt and adjust to our environment when we’re in the military. So, it was baptism by fire in the kitchen.”
In the span of a few minutes at work one day, he was taking chicken out of the oven for the evening’s dinner service; checking the progress of a carrot cake and talking to coworkers about other duties.
He’s most well-known, he says, for his cheesecake.
“It’s from scratch,” he says emphatically, noting that sometimes he makes graham cracker crust and sometimes it’s Oreo cookie crust. “It’s been the same recipe for 23 years. Nobody’s gotten tired of it yet.”
He said he finds that the job comes easy to him, despite the fast pace and having to be on his feet all day.
“In the kitchen, it’s a lot of multi-tasking,” he says. “It’s a juggling act.”