MenuDirections 2013: Day Two Highlights

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

By 
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
trail mix

We’ve added fueling stations in our units for our workers who didn’t have time to eat or just need a snack. We have areas set up with trail mix, crackers, cookies and water. It helps us avoid people feeling or getting ill, especially when we get closer to exam periods and student workers are studying and not taking the time to eat.

Ideas and Innovation
reusable coffee cup thermos

We were inspired by a book titled “Influence” to start a sustainable cup program called My Cup. All 15,000 new students receive a reusable cup with their name on it, which they can use at the dining halls. Personalizing helps them invest in the program and actually use it.

Menu Development
quinoa bowl

In a time of growing health consciousness, it might not be enough anymore for food to be merely filling. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , diners are looking for food with a function, such as those with high protein content, immunity-boosting properties, antioxidants, probiotics and more. The data suggests 63% of consumers see these foods as healthier than those without any specific nutritional function—and would be more likely to buy them.

But are those stated preferences translating on an operational level? There, the answer is less clear. Baby...

Ideas and Innovation
phone bed call sick

We make people call and directly talk to their boss or supervisor if they are reporting an absence for a shift. While it is more cumbersome, it is a conscious decision. We have adapted and implemented electronic methods to obtain efficiencies in just about every other functional area, except for electronic absence reporting systems. The direct supervisor can put more pressure on an employee to show up—especially those with some form of the “Super Bowl plague”—than any electronic system can.

FSD Resources