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

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce eat dining

Forced to battle crumbling infrastructure and a constant churn of trends, sometimes the best way to save a foodservice operation is to change it entirely. As Steve Mangan, director of dining at the University of Michigan, puts it, “At some point when your building starts to fail, the cost of maintenance stands out.” But for operators with limited budgets, the challenge is discerning the right time to do so—and how far to take it.

At Jefferson High School, change came because little worked anymore. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, school’s cafeteria hadn’t been updated since 1957; students...

Managing Your Business
farmer produce

The seeds of farm-to-table 2.0 have officially blown into noncommercial foodservice. Since the movement has caught the attention of the segment during the past decade, operators have broadened agricultural collaborations outside of just supply. As a result, a new strain of the movement has been created that treats farms as allies in events, training and innovative growing systems.

The 500-bed Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J., didn’t start out sourcing produce from local farms; instead, it administered its own growing programs, including an on-site garden and honeybee apiary...

Ideas and Innovation
fsd screenshot web

A full year has passed since we redesigned FoodService Director magazine, taking the publication from its longtime tabloid dimensions to a more convenient size and more creative design, and recasting the content to provide actionable, peer-to-peer insights and ideas for FSDs.

Now we are thrilled to announce that we’ve extended the makeover to our website as well. The new FoodServiceDirector.com has been redesigned to be more engaging and even easier to use. We’ve made it faster to find information, from recipes to HR best practices, that will help you run your facility better....

Managing Your Business
wage feud business

As plans to increase the minimum wage surge ahead in states such as New York and California, operators eventually will feel the reverberations shake up labor costs for more than just hourly workers. As associate wages gain on manager salaries, operators will have to answer a call for reciprocal increases. FSD spoke with operators who advised going gently into the brave new world of heightened labor costs, investing in talent and making cuts elsewhere; however, they did offer three perfectly proactive tactics to make the process as seamless as possible.

1. Keep talking

Even though...

FSD Resources