The energy of ideas

Steal This Idea Live! gave insight to those looking for new ideas.

Researchers have postulated that if you put a group of monkeys in a room full of typewriters—now, computers, of course—eventually they would pound out the complete works of William Shakespeare.

I don’t really believe that, but I do know from personal experience that if you bring a roomful of college foodservice professionals together for any length of time, you will get a ton of ideas. Such was the case last week when FoodService Director and Hormel Foodservice co-sponsored the second annual In Front of the Future Summit at Hormel’s corporate headquarters in Austin, Minn.

Eleven members of NACUFS, including directors, assistant directors, culinary directors and a nutritionist, met for two and a half days to share ideas and learn more about their current and future customers. The event included a presentation on millennials from Iconoculture, a Minneapolis-based firm that tracks demographic trends, a talk about the snacking habits of young women from Tanya Ceja-Zamarripa, a tour of the Hormel processing plant and an opportunity to taste some Hormel products currently in test mode and provide feedback on them.

As part of the summit, we included a 75-minute session called Steal This Idea Live!, where we invited the attendees to share ideas with each other and us. It was a surprising and enlightening engagement—enlightening because it provided me with some valuable insight into what these people consider important in terms of customer service, training, employee recognition and more, and surprising because the wide range of ideas that came out of that one session.

I have covered non-commercial foodservice for more than 25 years, and I still find myself amazed and impressed by the innovation that comes from our readers. It’s a major reason why I still enjoy being a magazine editor in this industry.

From “Waffle Wednesdays” at the University of Oklahoma, to the reusable boxes that San Diego State University designed to display their to-go sandwiches, the ideas just flowed from these 11 people. At meals, on the shuttle bus, and even over a late-evening beer, the conversation almost always offered some nuggets of insight that would help them do their jobs better, help Hormel understand their customer better and help us provide a better product, both in print and online.

The month of June has been a busy one for me, both professionally and personally, but I wouldn’t have missed this opportunity to meet new friends and reconnect with old friends for anything. Learning at least one new thing each day helps to keep us motivated, I believe, and last week provided enough motivation to keep me energized for quite a while.

new concepts

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
studient orientation

When an alma mater and an employer are one in the same, it can be a win-win for both the employee and the school. Here’s how two students’ experiences with campus dining—one positive and the other negative—led them on a path to their current jobs.

A Feast to Remember

NC State University’s main campus in Raleigh, N.C. was built on farmland given to the state by Richard Stanhope Pullen; every spring, students gather to celebrate those agricultural roots through Farm Feast, an outdoor celebration with food and music. Design major Christin King remembers her first Farm Feast vividly: “...

Ideas and Innovation
nutrition facts label

Despite operators’ attempts to communicate nutrition information to guests via cards and labels on the food line, many guests still feel they have no clue what’s in their food. University of Illinois food economist Brenna Ellison shares a few guesses as to why consumers ignore these signs following a recent study on their placement in dining halls.

Q: Who is most likely to read the cards?

A: Students who were already exhibiting more healthy behaviors. So those were the students who track their intake using an app or a food diary. After the first week, we found the rates of people...

People in Foodservice
lucretia chancler

Lucretia Chancler’s roots lie in Louisiana’s St. Landry Parish. She grew up in the parish, and her mother taught in the school district for 33 years—even occasionally teaching young Lucretia. Advanced degrees and a post-grad job took her to Colorado, Georgia and other places, but St. Landry soon called Chancler back home.

In October 2009, Chancler returned to Louisiana to become St. Landry’s supervisor of child nutrition. The parish’s economic makeup is a big driver behind Chancler’s local mission: More than 85% of the 14,000 students at the parish’s 32 schools are eligible for...

Menu Development
chefs council spread

Last October, we published the results of FoodService Director’s first annual Chefs’ Council Menu Trends survey, revealing predictions for menu shake-ups in 2016 . Many of the predictions panned out, including an increase in snacking, ever-spicier flavor profiles, veg-centric plates, fresh-pressed juices and build-your-own options. Now we’re back with next year’s forecast, culled from our panel of 50 Chefs’ Council members—culinarians representing the core segments of noncommercial foodservice. Some of the flavors, ingredients and cuisines expand on current trends, while others go off in...

FSD Resources