Cuisine 'Smashing' & Other Lessons from MenuDirections Day 2

A full day of education sessions and sampling yields some aha moments

By 
Peter Romeo, Director of Digital Content

No longer a MenuDirections newbie, I was able to work the comprehensive education program more aggressively today, jumping from chef demos to flavor forecasts while sampling recipes developed with both health and flavor in mind. Here’s some of the more delectable brainfood that was served up:

--Fusion is the dainty way of blending ethnic cuisines. The new, bolder method is called “smashing,” according to Chef Andrew Hunter. He cites the approach of Kogi Truck creator Roy Choi, whose Korean tacos have fostered a cult following on the West Coast.

“When you smash things, you try to create layers, so when you bite into them, they come together,” Hunter said. And that’s exactly what Choi does, he explained: Tortillas are layered with sauces and meat.

“Chef Roy is less interested in weaving a harmonious flavor and more into having you taste the individual flavors by pushing them all together,” said Hunter.

--Chocolate is a health food. But it’s typically adulterated with sugar and processed in a way that strips out the healthful components.

--You have to smash or chop garlic to release its considerable health properties. The beneficial aspects are in the aromatics. Roasting it without breaking the surface of the cloves won’t release the health-boosting compounds.

--Youngsters may be suffering taco fatigue, or at least a tendency to yawn when a traditional taco bar is presented to them. To rekindle interest, foodservice directors are trying variations like fish and Indian-style tacos.

By Peter Romeo, Director of Digital Content
View More Articles By Peter Romeo

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

Ideas and Innovation
kale quinoa salad

With all the hype around probiotics, we decided to create a daily dish that incorporates probiotics in addition to prebiotics. You rarely hear about prebiotics, and this was a great way to highlight how the two work synergistically to maintain a healthy gut. Our chefs have developed menu items such as roasted salmon with yogurt and mint vinaigrette; kale and quinoa salad with warm maple dressing; and leek soup with pickled cucumbers, to name a few.

Ideas and Innovation
packaged meals

While the multiple-choice questions on FoodService Director’s annual census surveys are a great way of gathering data on trends, I’ve always been rather partial to the open-ended queries. We can’t possibly think up every answer operators might have to a particular question, and it gives respondents a chance to show some personality as well. (A special nod to one cheeky operator’s not-quite-safe-for-work response to how they’re tackling shortened lunch periods—you made my day.)

So this year, for the first time since I’ve been at FoodService Director, I chose to include a very open-...

FSD Resources