Special Focus: French Fries


Few items are as universal to restaurant menus as french fries. But few
categories present as many options to purchasers. Major manufacturers
offer up to 200 skus of frozen fries. How to choose the right potato
for your operation—a fry that pleases fussy customers, differentiates
your concept and works with your traffic flow?


“There’s a cut to meet every operational need,” says Matt Petersen,
marketing manager for J.R. Simplot Company. While a QSR might want a
shoestring fry that cooks up quickly, a buffet concept is looking for a
thick wedge with a longer hold time and a casual steakhouse, a
batter-coated potato that can be sprinkled with its proprietary
seasoning, he adds.


Jay Wallsweer, brand manager at McCain’s, another major supplier of
fries, sees a trend toward specialty products. “Sweet potato fries are
the rising star,” he claims, “and specialty cuts [like lattices or
loops] and signature seasonings are also going strong. “ These
alternatives are especially appealing to casual dining, where more than
one french fry choice is becoming necessary to stay competitive and
increase profits. “Operators are branching out to offer a second option
besides traditional straight-cut fries,” notes Wallsweer.


That said, straight-cut fries—either regular or crinkle cut—are the top
foodservice buy. Petersen points out three characteristics that
determine quality and affect customer response: length, texture and
color. “Length is very important as it helps determine yield,” he
explains. “You need fewer long pieces to fill up a container or cover
the plate; a top quality product has more long pieces while a
low-quality one is made up of shorter pieces.” Wallsweer agrees,
adding, “if it takes fewer fries to make a serving, there’s more profit
for the operator. And long pieces provide more perceived value for the
customer.” As far as texture goes, limp and soggy are out—a cooked
french fry should be crisp on the outside with a baked potato-texture
inside. And a consistent golden color is the benchmark; light for
uncooked fries and a deeper gold for cooked potatoes.


The quality of the finished product is impacted by delivery and
handling as well. “Treat a case of french fries like a case of eggs,”
Petersen advises. “If you drop the case, the long pieces break up and
your yield goes out the door.” Inspect the case, too, to make sue
there’s no damage or leakage. And make sure the fries don’t clump
together in their bags—they should be free flowing without any ice
crystals.


Now that trans-fat-free fries are an industry standard, sodium has
moved to the forefront as a health issue. The major manufacturers are
reformulating some products to reduce sodium and taking other
health-oriented initiatives. “We’re also looking at bakeability—how
fries perform in the oven—so we can cut total fat,” adds Wallsweer.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
ohio state o

No, that’s not a typo: 51,759 undergraduates were enrolled at Ohio State University in the 2015-2016 academic year, making it one of the largest public universities in the country. And while not every student had a meal plan, it’s safe to say that Zia Ahmed, senior director of dining services for the Columbus, Ohio, school, is in charge of both feeding and supervising a massive number of people.

Ahmed says his No. 1 tips for handling the travel, stress and struggle for work-life balance that comes with his job are straightforward: communication and managing people’s expectations....

Managing Your Business
steam table server

Over the past five years, this column has kept me current on topics ranging from culinary techniques to HR policies to pest control. As a culinary and hospitality educator, one of the things I really value about my work with Restaurant Business , FoodService Director's sister publication, is that it broadens my knowledge base so I have more answers in the classroom.

But part of being a good professor is being smart enough to say, “I have no clue, but I know who will.” When it comes to equipment engineering, I’m lucky if I can find the “on” switch.

Fortunately, I have James...

Industry News & Opinion

HMSHost has partnered with golf tournament organizer PGA Tour to open a new PGA Tour Grill location in El Paso International Airport in El Paso, Texas.

The grill aims to promote an active lifestyle through healthy food options outside of traditional airport fare, and appeals to golf fans with flat-screen TVs dedicated to golf tournaments and related programming.

“The new PGA Tour Grill is a perfect addition to the El Paso International Airport as it brings a new and refreshing menu,” Monica Lombrana, director of aviation at El Paso International Airport, said in a statement...

Industry News & Opinion

K-12 foodservice participating in federal nutrition programs soon could fall into some extra cheese. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is set to buy 11 million pounds of cheese to raise plummeting prices, the result of a dairy glut. The acquired product will be distributed to federal nutrition programs, which might include WIC, SNAP and Child Nutrition Programs, and food banks.

The purchase falls short of a call from Congress, unions, special interest groups and commodity organizations for a $150 million buyout of dairy assets to mitigate the 35% drop in dairy revenues—a 30-year...

FSD Resources