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.

FSD’s 2010 Menu Survey

The results of our 2010 Menu Development Survey are in. Here is a snapshot of the industry, based on the responses of 298 operators.

  • America has long been known as a “melting pot” or “salad bowl” because of the variety of ethnicities represented in this country. That variety is reflected in the types of cuisines being offered among our survey respondents. The 12 cuisines represented, by percent offering: Chinese/Japanese: 73%; Mediterranean/Greek: 45%; Nuevo Latino: 25%; Caribbean: 24%; Indian: 24%; Cuban: 22%; Middle Eastern: 22%; Thai: 21%; Jamaican: 19%; Korean: 10%; Vietnamese: 8%; other Southeast Asian: 6%.• Twenty-three percent of respondents said they offer none of the cuisines listed above. The percentages were highest in nursing homes/LTC (43%), schools (26%) and hospitals (23%).
  • Thai (20%), Mediterranean and Indian (10% each) are mentioned by respondents to be “hot” ethnic cuisines.• Thai is also the cuisine most likely to be added by respondents during the next 12 months, with 15% indicating they would be including it in their menu mix. Other likely additions include Caribbean (14%), Cuban and other Southeast Asian (13% each), and Indian, Vietnamese and Nuevo Latino (12% each).
  • Culinary training is an important component for operators wanting to keep abreast of menu trends, and there are several options available to make this happen. Among the learning opportunities used by respondents are trade shows and conferences (71%), in-house seminars and workshops (65%), online training (36%), off-site training (29%), bringing culinary professionals in (25%) and chef competitions (20%).
  • Takeout business makes up about 19%, on average, of the meal volume among respondents. Grab and go is most popular in hospitals (33%), B&I (33%) and colleges (22%), and least popular in nursing homes/LTC (8%) and schools (6%). On average, one-quarter of operators expect takeout business to grow during the next year, and 4% expect it to decrease.
  • Display cooking is an option offered by 44% of operators. Colleges (87%) and B&I (79%) are the most likely places to see preparation in front of diners, while schools (7%) seldom do display prep. Of those operators who do display cooking, 43% do it every day, 16% offer it four to six times per week, 16% offer it two to three times a week and 23% make it a once-a-week occasion. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they expect the frequency of display cooking to increase in the near future.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Hutchinson Middle School in Hutchinson, Minn., invited students to help serve lunch in an effort to encourage their peers to try new, healthy recipes, Hutchinson Leader reports.

The students, who are part of the school’s Students in Action Club, created posters to advertise the new meal and helped serve it to students during lunch.

The school’s kitchen manager, Janet Schmidt, said that around 37 more students than normal got in line to try the meal. The school plans to have students from the club help serve lunch once every month.

Read the full story via Hutchinson...

Industry News & Opinion

In an effort to trim costs, the country’s largest senior living company laid off 100 staff members, including regional dining services directors, reports Senior Housing News .

Not all employees who were laid off will technically leave the company, Senior Housing News notes, as some will be reassigned to alternative positions. Brookdale recently posted third-quarter earnings that fell short of analysts’ expectations and that the company’s CEO called disappointing.

At the end of last year, the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company employed 53,000 workers on a full-time basis, and...

Industry News & Opinion

After receiving mixed feedback from parents, Randolph County School District in Asheboro, N.C., is inviting parents to tour the district’s kitchens and cafeterias to see how the food for school meals is made, Fox 8 reports.

School officials say that the tours, part of the district’s first Food Day for Parents, will give parents an inside look at the upkeep of the facilities, as well as enable them to sample some food and see how the district is upholding USDA guidelines.

Officials also hope that the tours will provide them with more guidance on what parents and students are...

Industry News & Opinion

After fielding complaints from parents and students, Sodexo is launching an initiative to improve dining services at Emerson College in Boston, the Berkeley Beacon reports.

The initiative will kick off this month with an event dubbed Fresh Start, marking the start of several moves aimed at improving service—including the hiring of a new executive chef, the addition of a second sous chef, and retraining current staff on food preparation and presentation.

Members of the Emerson community will also be able to share feedback through the introduction of monthly forums, as well...

FSD Resources