2010 Menu Development survey: In menus, diversity rules

Chefs and operators are becoming more adventurous with their menus but there are still limits to what they can achieve.

Diversity
Hospitals, many of which have a wide variety of ethnicities represented among their staffs, see similar variety in their menu diversity.

“We have two favorites, Mexican and Thai,” says Patti Oliver, food and nutrition services director at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. So, she adds, she alternates menu items to keep both camps happy.

“We have an International Corner in the dining commons, which features different ethnic entrées each day,” she explains. “Mondays are tostadas and Thursdays rotate between burritos, flautas and sopas. All are huge sellers. On Tuesdays we have a curry bar, with a choice of salmon, chicken, beef or lamb, and the house is always packed on that day. The curry is pretty spicy, and our clientele seem to like that. Our cooks make a housemade salsa to go with the Mexican entrées that is very spicy as well.”

At Intermountain Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, Foodservice Director Laura Watson says she doesn’t have any strong ethnic preferences among her hospital’s customers. So, she uses the cafeteria for a monthly geography lesson, featuring different types of cuisine each month.

2010 Menu Development Survey chart trans fats“The total menu will feature entrées, sides, salads, sandwiches and desserts from that region,” she explains. “The most popular have been Central and South America, Polynesian and Italian.”

Large urban areas, particularly in the Northeast, attract a wide variety of ethnicities, which often means operators must offer menus with many influences. For example, Beth Yesford, foodservice director for Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., says her menus offer “Spanish, Caribbean, Jamaican, Chinese and Indian—in line with the many different cultures represented in our hospital.” At Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Foodservice Director Tom Cooley notes that Caribbean cuisine offers him flexibility in several ways to satisfy his hospital’s diverse employee base.

“We have an inner-city hospital mix of white, black and Hispanic working here,” Cooley says. “Caribbean lets us mix soul, seafood and Spanish influences, which seems to work for a lot of our customers. It also works for pork, which usually does not go over well with blacks and Muslims. But jerk and curry-style pork sells well, as do our Cuban sandwiches.”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
business card

We get the new folks abridged business cards saying, “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work in nutrition department.” We thought it would give them more ownership of the program and elevate their status and position in the organization. It also gives our team more self-confidence and self-worth as an employee, which can be a challenge with foodservice workers.

Ideas and Innovation
tug hospital robot

Automation has opened up in recent years as foodservice operators across the country grapple with labor shortages. Robots deliver food trays to patients in hospitals, and they make sushi on college campuses. For some operators, they’re worthwhile to reduce strain on human employees and increase productivity.

Robots roamed the hallways when the University of California San Francisco Medical Center’s new Mission Bay campus opened last year. Though these robots have nicknames like Wall-E and Tuggie McFresh, they’re not a novelty. They’re a solution to a problem that administrators...

Ideas and Innovation
sandwich sub

At our corporate operation in the Kohl’s headquarters, two kinds of sandwiches are available daily—an artisan version and a more straightforward sub. While planning out a business model for the space, Kohl’s wanted something that was quality driven, but very sensitive to pricing for associates. Diners are comfortable spending about $6 to $7 for lunch.

Ideas and Innovation
usc asian remodel

With a prime location in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s foodie capitols, the University of Southern California has plenty of dining competition. So when Kris Klinger, assistant vice president of retail operations, discovered that students were heading off campus for sushi and noodle bowls, he knew it was time to take action. The construction of Fertitta Hall, part of the university’s Marshall School of Business, provided the opportunity.

Klinger and Gary Marschall, associate director of USC auxiliary services in hospitality, shared photos of both the new Fertitta Cafe and a...

FSD Resources