Ranking food

Do lists of the best food matter?

By 
Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

A list claiming to celebrate the best in college foodservice, compiled by food website "The Daily Meal," was released last week. The list included the usual suspects at the top—Virginia Tech, Bowdoin and Washington University in St. Louis were the top three—but the list got me thinking about why media outlets are obsessed with lists like this and what it takes to create one.

We at FoodService Director are no stranger to lists (see our 20 Most Influential) though we are hesitant to rank our lists like "The Daily Meal." Who are we to say whom on our list is more influential than someone else on the list? And does the ranking part really even matter? I suppose to the people on the list the ranking might be something to boast about, especially in college foodservice since rivalries are a healthy part of college life. But what is really interesting about "The Daily Meal’s" list is how it did the rankings. Here is what it looked for, according to its website:

“To rank the schools that did make the cut, we graded them on a variety of criteria. Each could earn up to five points in each of the categories below.
 

  • Healthy Food: Meals that are fresh, made from scratch and cooked in small batches
  • Events: Themed dinners, picnics, cooking classes—anything to engage undergrads
  • Local: Programs that support the community with local purchases
  • Sustainable: Incorporating eco-friendly practices into the dining program
  • Accessibility and Service: How easy it is for students to connect with dining services and how well they are taken care of
  • The X Factor: Something that made our jaws drop”

Now the 51 colleges and universities that made "The Daily Meal’s" list all met this criteria. So how did they decide No. 52 (Dartmouth) from No. 51 (the University of New Hampshire). It seems to me that the ROI of the process of ranking these great programs just isn’t there. But perhaps I’m wrong. I’ll turn it over to you.

What do you think the value of these types of lists is? And where do you stand on just presenting a list of the best versus actually going through the trouble to rank them? Let us know in the comments or send an email to lramsey@cspnet.com.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Menu Development
salad chicken

Vegetables and grains have stepped into the spotlight, thanks to the “flipping the plate” trend, but protein is still an important part of a balanced diet. Sources including meat, cheese, nuts, and meat alternatives such as tofu and tempeh can and should still be on the plate—albeit as a side dish or topping rather than the main event.

“Whatever we do [as FSDs] needs to be rooted in the culture, and today’s culture is all about healthy eating and plant-focused meals,” says Chris Studtmann, executive chef at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “A recipe is an idea; culture is...

Menu Development
jackfruit

It emerged as a top food trend on Pinterest’s 2017 predictions, is “the latest miracle food” according to Epicurious, and was called “a nutritional bonanza” by NPR. Jackfruit is the latest superfood garnering buzz, and Even Stevens Sandwiches has gone after the vegetarian-friendly option for a recently launched torta. Here, Culinary Director Brandon Price shares three lessons learned from adding jackfruit to the menu.

Finding the best form

Using fresh jackfruit wasn’t the answer for the chain. It has to be sourced internationally, and breaking it down cuts into labor costs. But...

Ideas and Innovation
hibachi grill cooking

We saw in 2016 that many operators were trying to have some type of display cooking in their food operation. We installed a hibachi grill this fall, and within three months we had 300 residents and guests make reservations. We also use our hibachi grill for cooking classes twice a month, where our hibachi chef Abby Kramer does an excellent job teaching different cuisines. We have received so many compliments that we have decided to get another hibachi grill for a different dining venue in 2017.

FSD Resources