MenuDirections 2013: Day Two Highlights

Coming face-to-face with a pig's head adds clarity on FSDs' changing roles

Peter Romeo, Director of Digital Content

It’s not a routine conference when the speaker reaches for the severed pig’s head on the counter and lifts off the face, explaining he’d carved it free earlier so he’d have time to saw apart the carcass that’d been parted from the skull (“The brain’s still in there, but that’s okay.”)

Welcome to one of the more extraordinary sessions of Menu Directions 2013 and the lens it provides on how the food service director’s job is changing. During one of the conference's 30-Minute Universities, Stephen Gerike of the National Pork Board broke down half a pig and a whole hog’s head to show the audience where familiar pork specialties come from. In the process, he underscored how much more the FSD has to know today to do his or her job, a message that was sounded repeatedly from the stage and in casual conversations.

Clearly that responsibility extends far beyond feeding tens or hundreds of thousands of people per day. During the MenuDirections awards banquet, FSD of the Year candidate Eric Goldestein was lauded for serving almost 900,000 meals daily in New York City schools. But what drew gasps from the audience was the observation that he also oversees student transportation within the nation’s largest school district.

In feedback to speakers and chatter during breaks, attendees noted that their responsibilities now extend to housing, laundry services and, perhaps most routinely, the concessions in stadiums and other facilities connected to a non-commercial foodservice operation. Once, the worry was making food look good on the line. Now, as West Point’s Kevin D’Onofrio noted at one breakfast, it's adjusting to a game day snowstorm that cuts revenues from  your stadium concessions by some 70%.

But it’s not just a matter of new areas of responsibility being added. As the pig-carving 30-Minute University illustrated, FSDs need to know far more today about their core responsibilities of serving food. It’s no longer merely a challenge of finding the "Peel Back Here" corner on frozen product. They need to have a grasp on where their food comes from, and what to do about dynamics like the surge in gluten-free dining.

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

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
tray number

We created lucky tray days to help create an experience surrounding our brand. The trays are numbered; we pick a number and the winner receives a free lunch. We’ve enlisted the help of one of our coaches, who calls out the random lucky winner, and it drums up a lot of excitement.

Menu Development
recipe revamp chicken soup

As a continuous care retirement community, The Garlands of Barrington in Illinois provides daily foodservice to 270 independent living and skilled nursing care residents, with the majority of sodium restrictions coming from the latter, says Executive Chef Nicola Torres. Instead of cooking two versions of chicken noodle soup—a favorite offered at least twice a week—he reworked his recipe into a flavorful lower-sodium version that appeals to all. “Everybody eats soup, so I created a homemade stock that uses no salt at all, ramping up the flavor with fresh herbs and plenty of vegetables,...

Ideas and Innovation
bus advertising jagermeister

Because many locals use the bus system, we paid for some full bus wraps to advertise [job openings within] our dining services program. The buses go all over campus where students can see them, and to apartments where the public can see them. To top it off, the cost wasn’t much more than newspaper rates.

Managing Your Business
line kings girl goat open kitchen

Open kitchen concepts satisfy guests’ curiosity and desire for transparency. But there are some caveats. Here’s how to create a positive experience for both staff and customers when the walls are down.

Train to serve

With the back-of-house up front, everybody gets hospitality training. “Our cooks understand the food and what they’re doing incredibly, but translating that to guests requires [soft] skills that need to be honed,” says Marie Petulla, co-owner of two restaurants in Southern California.

Dress for a mess

At Girl & The Goat in Chicago, chef-owner Stephanie...

FSD Resources