Competing for Culinary Convenience

Chefs, retailers pair up in inaugural FARE Culinary Competition.

Published in FSD Update

An Asian banh mi “maco,” which was the winning dish.

Pair a group of non-commercial chefs and traditional convenience-store operators together for a culinary competition and what will you get? A banh mi mock taco, a Tuscan stew with panzanella salad, a grilled chicken cobb sandwich with ranch remoulade and a deconstructed chicken salad served with sautéed root vegetables—all packaged to go for convenient consumption.

Four teams competed in the inaugural FARE Culinary Competition at last week’s Foodservice at Retail Exchange (FARE) in Schaumburg, Ill. The teams were challenged with creating and cooking a dish that not only looked and tasted great but would also fit well on a foodservice-at-retail menu.

The winning dish was the Asian banh mi “maco” from Andrew Franco, executive chef, Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Canastota, N.Y., and Laurence Shiner, executive chef, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Ill.

Participants were given 75 minutes to prepare, package and serve an original and innovative on-the-go-style meal item. They were judged on a 10-point scale in four categories, each weighted equally: taste, creativity/innovation, presentation/appearance and portability/convenience. The dishes could be considered grab-and-go or made-to-order and either travel well for later consumption or easily eaten quickly or on the go.

To create their dishes, teams had to use at least one product from each of the sponsor companies, including chicken from Pierce Chicken, breads from Amoroso’s Baking Co., salad dressings from Kraft Foods Inc., to-go packages from Sabert Corp. and condiments from French’s Foodservice. Contestants also had a pantry of staple items to work from. Ingredients were revealed one week prior to the competition, so teammates could begin the brainstorming process.

Reflecting the cross-channel idea exchange of FARE, teams represented a mix of foodservice channels. Each contestant brought his/her strengths to the team—be it a skilled eye for convenience and retail merchandising from the c-store operators or culinary competition experience from the college & university and healthcare chefs.

The following are the teams and their dishes:

Winning Team
Andrew Franco, executive chef, Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Canastota, N.Y., and Laurence Shiner, executive chef, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Ill.
Dish: Asian Banh Mi “Maco”: Crisp flatbread with spicy glazed chicken, pickled vegetables, peach pico, avocado ranch sauce and a pineapple, black bean and red pepper salad.

Other Participants
Ryan Conklin, executive chef, Rex Healthcare, Raleigh, N.C., and Frank White, director of retail operations, Tri State Petroleum Corp., Wheeling, W.Va.

Dish: Taste of Italy: Tuscan-style chicken and vegetable stew over rice; panzanella salad with tomatoes, olive oil, basil and cheese; and balsamic soaked peach salad with honey whipped cream.

Peter Fischbach, regional director of culinary development, Gourmet Dining LLC, Newark N.J., and Wade Robinson, food service supervisor, Pump N Pantry Convenience Stores, Montrose, Pa.

Dish: Southwest Grilled Chicken Cobb Sandwich: Served with a ranch remoulade, a peach, black bean and couscous salad and a side of tart apples.

Keith Boston, director of prepared food & beverage, Cumberland Farms, Framingham, Mass., and Tom Coleman, director of retail dining, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. 

Dish: Deconstructed Grilled Marinated Chicken Salad: Panzanella salad served with sautéed root vegetables and balsamic vinaigrette and finished with a balsamic glaze.

Competition judges were Pat Cobe, senior editor, Restaurant Business magazine, Oak Brook, Ill.; Bob Derian, corporate executive chef, RaceTrac Petroleum, Atlanta; and Jim Roth, executive chef, Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare in Elmhurst, Ill. Justin Waldrep, manager of food safety and quality assurance for RaceTrac Petroleum, served as food safety judge.

The winning teammates will receive personalized FARE 2013 chef coats and lodging at FARE 2014, which will be held June 16-18 at the Gaylord Texan. Stay tuned to foodserviceatretail.com for more details.  

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
vegetables with dip foodservice healthy menu

From Mrs. Dash Foodservice.

There was a time when healthy food meant counting calories, omitting carbs, giving up sugar and going fat-free—in other words, it was all about deprivation.

But not anymore. Today’s definition of healthy means an overall focus on nutrition and wellness that doesn’t mean giving up enjoyment. It’s all about balance: good fats, healthy carbs, better sweeteners, wholesome ingredients and satisfying flavor enhancements. It means food that customers can feel good about, at the same time that they’re enjoying the dining experience.

According to...

Industry News & Opinion

Aramark today announced a partnership with celebrity chef and TV personality Cat Cora that will put a new concept from the Top Chef star in Aramark’s North American business-and-industry accounts.

The new fast-casual concept, called Olilo by Cat Cora, promises a healthy, made-your-way menu, according to the global foodservice provider.

“By bringing together Chef Cora's award-winning brand and healthy cooking advocacy and Aramark's commitment to enriching and nourishing the lives of the thousands of consumers we serve every day, we have an opportunity to elevate the on-site...

Industry News & Opinion

Members of Congress and several advocacy groups gathered on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to highlight the potential loss of millions in state funding because of a Child Nutrition Reauthorization block grant introduced last month, and to call upon legislators to squash the bill.

The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 houses a statute that would provide three unannounced pilot states with block grant funding. Participating states would be exempt from federal nutrition regulations and would no longer qualify for the 6-cent reimbursement per lunch garnered by certified...

Menu Development
woman salad clean eating

At FoodService Director’s MenuDirections conference in February, nutrition expert Dr. James E. Painter shared a hilarious—and yet somewhat disheartening—video clip from “Jimmy Kimmel Live” during his keynote address, “Fats in vogue, wheat woes and uh-oh GMOs.”

In the clip, an interviewer asks people on the street who claim to maintain a gluten-free diet one simple question: “What is gluten?” Answers range from “I don’t know” to “a grain” to “wheat.” When the interviewer presses one of the passers-by further, asking why she avoids it, she replies, “It makes you fat.”

...

FSD Resources