2005 Menu Development Survey: Dishing it out

Many of the largest organizations in foodservice have revamped, overhauled or otherwise upgraded their menus in recent years.

Not just line cooks: The survey also delves into the area of staffing, in an attempt to gauge the level of expertise that exists in today’s non-commercial kitchens, and pinpoint what efforts are in place to train the culinary staff on an ongoing basis.

More than a quarter of all operations have an executive chef on staff, but that rises to more than half in higher education. In fact, higher education outpaces all segments in specialized staff such as sous chef and pastry chef, and is far ahead in placing someone in a culinary training capacity.

That type of training includes conferences and trade shows as the No.1 method, with a substantial amount of in-house training, and to a significant extent, sending staff for more extensive training than what they can receive at conferences, followed by visits to the operation from guest chefs or other experts. Also making a substantial showing is the staging of cooking competitions as a way to hone staff members’ culinary skills.

Scratching the surface: Another element of the survey looks at cooking methods non-commercial operators use in production. Most (92%) use scratch-cooking, a strong majority make use of prepared entrees (69%) or components (65%)in meal assembly, and about a third are involved with cook-chill.

The survey asked readers to rank a handful of methods or practices in terms of their productivity benefits. Nearly two-thirds of operators gave use of prepared products the highest scores, compared to other things that enhance productivity like online monitoring systems (43%), automated inventory (28%) and e-commerce (27%).

Many operators belong to larger organizations like school districts, hospital networks or other consortiums, so the survey took a quick look at central production activities. Results show that 30% of operators oversee a centralized food processing/meal preparation facility, and they support an average of seven sites.

In this area, the market’s getting a lot of industry support with respect to equipment and systems that allow a school district, for example, to downsize the amount of ovens, kettles and other items at each feeding site, and transform those sites into facilities that primarily retherm meals produced at the central facility.

School districts doing this are often able to use up the extra capacities of these central facilities on weekends or during the summer, to launch catering services or pick up other business in the local community.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The menu served at Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, is headed for an overhaul after its CEO and management team ate a strict hospital food diet for a week and were unhappy with their options. The foodservice department has been fielding patient complaints for years, but decided to take action after facing the issue head on.

“Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat,” Director of Food Services Kevin Peters told Ottawa...

Industry News & Opinion

With overtime pay likely to become a reality for some salaried foodservice employees after Dec. 1, operators are rethinking what they expect managers to do off-site as part of their responsibilities. Answering email or scheduling shifts at home didn’t matter when the employees were exempted from overtime if they earned more than $23,660 per year. But with that threshold more than doubling on Dec. 1 to $47,476, a half hour spent here and there on administrative tasks could push a salaried manager over the 40-hours-per-week threshold and entitle him or her to overtime. And how does the...

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

FSD Resources