The Big Idea 2013

Aquaponics, trayless dining, closed-loop oil system and seven more big ideas.

Green Certification for Schools
Flik Independent School Dining, Rye Brook, N.Y.

We began exploring Green Restaurant Certification for our school accounts in 2004. It started because of a conversation with one of our clients, who said, “Besides athletics, you are the biggest user of energy on my campus. So anything you can do to cut down on energy consumption and reduce costs would be very helpful.” Well, we had just started looking into Green Restaurant Certification, so I was able to tell him that there was a program that could help. He became our pilot account. We currently have 26 locations participating. Nineteen are certified, and we are adding four more as we speak. Five of them have gotten additional stars from the Green Restaurant Association.

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Menu Development
spilled coffee beans glasses

Following an initial test at the end of May, Starbucks announced that more than 500 of its stores will be pouring nitro coffee by the end of summer. Capitalizing on the cold-brew coffee trend—which reached $7.9 million in sales in 2015 on 115% growth from the previous year, according to researcher Mintel—select U.S. cafes will give up the counter space to serve the creamy, nitrogen-infused java made from the cold-brew base. But how did nitro become the hottest new thing in coffee?

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Ideas and Innovation
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My favorite event—because I’m kind of dorky—is our “May the fourth be with you” (aka “Star Wars”) day on May 4. The whole dining team dresses up, and we offer things like Chewbaklava, Boba Fettuccine and BB-8 Buckeyes. We had a guest cry because they got to take a picture with Chewy.

Menu Development
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As a continuous care retirement community, The Garlands of Barrington in Illinois provides daily foodservice to 270 independent living and skilled nursing care residents, with the majority of sodium restrictions coming from the latter, says Executive Chef Nicola Torres. Instead of cooking two versions of chicken noodle soup—a favorite offered at least twice a week—he reworked his recipe into a flavorful lower-sodium version that appeals to all. “Everybody eats soup, so I created a homemade stock that uses no salt at all, ramping up the flavor with fresh herbs and plenty of vegetables,...

Ideas and Innovation
tray number

We created lucky tray days to help create an experience surrounding our brand. The trays are numbered; we pick a number and the winner receives a free lunch. We’ve enlisted the help of one of our coaches, who calls out the random lucky winner, and it drums up a lot of excitement.

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