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

Ideas and Innovation
shrimp lemon

In an interview with Bon Appetit magazine, Victor Clay, a line cook at Nobu Dallas in Texas, reveals his two simple tricks to prep an average of 15 to 20 shrimp per minute.

First, use kitchen shears to split the back of the shrimp. Then, before removing the vein, run the shrimp under cold water, which will loosen the vein. This cuts down on cleaning time, and prevents cooks from having to soak and rinse the shrimp afterward.

Menu Development
beau rivage resort blended burger

Stealth health is so 1998. When author Evelyn Tribole’s original book on sneaking healthy add-ons into meals was published nearly 20 years ago, there may have been a genuine nutrition need to fill. But as today’s diners are increasingly requesting more produce at the center of the plate, another need has taken the lead: a desire for creativity. Here’s how operators are openly blending meat with other ingredients—or eliminating animal products entirely—to take protein to another level.

In April, dining halls at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., began offering the Beyond Burger, a...

Ideas and Innovation
desserts plate

We’re knocking down a wall in our bar area, which will create a more inviting atmosphere and allow us to host a coffee and dessert bar in the space on off nights when the bar is closed.

Industry News & Opinion
nacufs award

Ohio University Director of Culinary Services Rich Neumann was on Wednesday evening awarded NACUFS’ 49th annual Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.

Neumann’s foodservice career began as an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. After his first day as a student cook, he says, his production manager wanted to fire him because he was striving for perfection, not—as she put it—“now and fast.” But he kept with it, eventually moving up to student manager. “If I had quit, I would not be here today,” he says.

During...

FSD Resources