A Special Holiday Mission: Robert Irvine Transforms Double H Ranch

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Host Robert Irvine with camp director Kate Walsh and volunteer Oisin Mac Tiarnain (R) at the Ropes Course during a tour of the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne, NY, a non for profit organization that provides an overnight camp for kids ages 6-16 with serious or life threatening illnesses and their siblings, during the Holiday Impossible makeover of the enormous dining hall along with the kitchen and the creation of a new food serving process, as seen on Food Network's Restaurant: Impossible, Holiday: Impossible Special.

Photo by: Anders Krusberg ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Anders Krusberg, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

In the largest Restaurant: Impossible challenge to date, Robert Irvine and his team traveled to Lake Luzerne, N.Y., for an extra-special mission at Double H Ranch, a year-round camp dedicated to serving children with life-threatening illnesses. Double H was founded on the premise of "health and happiness" according to CEO and executive director Max Yurenda, and the camp indeed lives up to its promise, as every child who attends is welcomed and made to feel safe and hopeful.

With the help and generosity of Lexus, Robert and his team had three days and an increased budget of $50,000 to transform the kitchen and dining hall at Double H, and it's a good thing they had extra time and money to spend, because the 4,000-plus-square-foot dining room was among the largest they'd ever attempted. In true Irvine fashion, Robert welcomed the challenge, and not only did he overhaul those spaces and turn them into comfortable, friendly and functional designs, but he and Lexus also gifted the camp dozens of pieces of new equipment, plus a $10,000 donation. Read on below to hear from Max, and director of operations Jacqui Royael, to find out how Double H is doing today. Then, browse insider photos of the transformation in progress, and see Robert at Double H.

How have the new hot boxes improved serving time?

Jacqui Royael: The new hot boxes will allow more time for staff and campers to enjoy their meal together and less time waiting in a crowded line in the kitchen. The food can now be prepared and ready to go the minute the kids enter the dining hall, allowing all of camp to be served in half the time and eat together. So what once was 20-plus minutes and several trips back and forth to the serving line will now be a quick five to 10 minutes and one trip to have everyone enjoy a meal together.

Have the hot boxes eased up any of the service congestion, and are the counselors able to stay seated for longer? Is there less chaos, as far as service, and more time left for singing and fun?

Camp Director Kate Walsh (L), CEO Max Yurenda and Jacqui Royael, Director of Operations react to the reveal as host Robert Irvine looks on during the Holiday Impossible makeover of the enormous dining hall along with the kitchen and the creation of a new food serving process in the dining room at the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne, NY, a non for profit organization that provides an overnight camp for kids ages 6-16 with serious or life threatening illnesses and their siblings, as seen on Food Network's Restaurant: Impossible, Holiday: Impossible Special.

Photo by: Anders Krusberg ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Anders Krusberg, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

JR: Meals are a time to celebrate our HH community, and the new hot boxes allow all staff to join in this time. The service time will be less chaotic, and [the hot boxes will] streamline the process of serving tremendously. With the new hot boxes and sound system, meal times are now a time we can celebrate our campers and staff. What is your single most-favorite design aspect in the new space?

JR: I absolutely loved every aspect of the design element, but what still amazes me each time I walk into the space is the brightness of the room. From the new lighting to the paint on the ceiling [and] the brightly colored furniture, it feels now like a space kids belong.

Max Yurenda: In reality, the whole project creates the homelike and energized environment that we needed to enhance the mealtime experience for everyone. I also loved how the designers incorporated aspects of the outdoors into the dining room.

What is the most-popular improvement with the campers and counselors?

JR: Given the size of our HH community, there was a unique part of the design that everyone loved. The popular improvements were both the practical upgrades, like the lightness of the new chairs that were popular with the staff who have to move them around several times a day, to the simplicity of “IN” and “OUT” written on the kitchen swing doors. What has made the biggest impact for all staff and campers is the thoughtfulness of the design — everywhere you look there is a new element that helps to celebrate what Double H is all about. This fall our families have had the most enjoyment out of the new space. Each weekend seeing their positive reaction to the new space has been a joy.

How are the new food allergy stations working in the kitchen?

Host Robert Irvine during the gift presentation during the Holiday Impossible makeover of the enormous dining hall along with the kitchen and the creation of a new food serving process in the dining room at the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne, NY, a non for profit organization that provides an overnight camp for kids ages 6-16 with serious or life threatening illnesses and their siblings, as seen on Food Network's Restaurant: Impossible, Holiday: Impossible Special.

Photo by: Anders Krusberg ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Anders Krusberg, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

JR: The new food allergy stations are a highlight in the new kitchen space. By creating clean, well-equipped and allergen-free areas, Double H can now safely prepare quality meals for all children in a fraction of time. Our dietary staff members now have a designated “home” in the kitchen that allows them to easily avoid cross-contamination, store specialty foods and create a meal for every child that is delicious and medically safe. This change made one of the biggest transformational differences to our program and greatly improved the quality of our food service. What did you think of the parade of presents (the boats, tents, backpacks and additional check presentation)?

JR: Being at camp for campers has always been about celebrations, but never have we experienced such a genuine act of kindness for our kids as the parade of presents during the filming of the show. The children were incredibly grateful, not only for the individual gifts, but were so happy to see all of the program supplies for camps. One of my highlights from the experience was watching the next morning as every child came proudly into the new dining hall space wearing their new Double H sweatshirt and backpack.

MY: The parade of presents remains a wonderful vision of pure joy, excitement and anticipation by the Double H family. The additional check presentation by Lexus was a wonderful surprise, and it reinforced how touched the representatives from Lexus were with our special mission and the kids.

Photo by: Anders Krusberg ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Anders Krusberg, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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