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

--One of the advantages of Mediterranean food for a high-volume feeding operation is its serving temperature and long hold times. “Most things are served ambient or chilled, or right from the grill,” noted chef Marion Gibson. So it can be easily offered in a weigh-and-pay set-up like a salad bar, or in a pick-three, fill-your-plate format.

--Breakfast, a source of sales growth for many foodservice operators, will likely morph into multiple feeding occasions as millennials age. Gibson said her company, Aramark-owned Lifeworks, has already identified three sub-dayparts that address the youngster’s consumption habits.

There’s early morning quick-snacking, where the harried young adults grab something on the run; the traditional, more leisurely traditional breakfast; and a mid-morning larger snack, where the eater has been on the job for awhile and wants to take a break.

--Google tries to put enough food options within its offices to have employees no farther than 500 feet from something to munch.

--If your food is cute, like a baby carrot or a smaller celery ticket, “you can get more money for it,” Gibson noted during her MenuDirections session on Mediterranean small plates.

--Beans, contrary to their bad rap, decrease rather than foster gas. “That’s been proven,” reported Erik Henry of Bush Brothers, a major bean supplier.

--Coca-Cola owns a coconut water company; PepsiCo owns a coconut water company; and, perhaps most intriguing of all, Madonna owns a coconut water company. There was no assessment offered of Lady Gaga’s interest in the product, which is currently soaring in popularity.

--There’s no scientific reason for physician’s relative silence on the health benefits of eating psyllium seeds and oat bran, according to celebrated nutrition expert James Painter, MenuDirections’ keynote speaker. The data proves that those forms of fiber could have a significant effect on well-being.

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

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources