Small Plates of Insights from MenuDirections 2012

A roundup of informational nuggets from our conference.

By 
Peter Romeo, Director of Digital Content

MenuDirections abounded in ideas, some so self-contained that it’s difficult to lump them into categories or one of our larger themed stories from the conference (which you’ll find here.) Here, then, is a mixed assortment of those notions and insights. We like to think of them as small plates of brain food:

Nuts, contrary to the assertions of some pop diets, can be healthful additions to diets in moderation. Nutritionist James Painter noted that they make a particularly good replacement for meats.

One of the ideas floated for making soybeans sexier called for pureeing the beans, saucing them with some ponzu and serving the whole thing in a martini glass.

Tacos made with tempeh were also saluted, as was the substitution of silky tofu for ricotta in lasagna.

One of Mediterranean food’s operational benefits is its durability as a takeout food. It holds for long times at ambient temperatures, and many versions are meant to be eaten without reheating. That makes it “a great way to stretch your dayparts without having to keep the doors open all the time,” noted LifeWorks’ Marion Gibson.

An Italian meat platter—basically rolled salamis and other cold cuts presented cheek-to-jowl with sliced cheeses on some type of open-faced Italian bread—is a good way to get $20 from a couple of sharers who might otherwise buy two $5 sandwiches. It’s twice the money for half the food, and everyone’s happy, said Gibson.

The new frontier in the use of beans is getting them into breakfast and dessert items, said Chef Tom Smith of Food IQ. He noted how the menu-idea lab is tinkering with such products as waffles, breads and white custards made from ground-up beans. He also asserted that beans would be accepted by more “customers” in K-12 if the industry could brainstorm ways of enabling the beans to be eaten neatly on the go in hand-held products.

Rhubarb can give new color, literally, to margaritas served in catering situations. It can be a good sour base for the popular drink, and delivers an attractive, unusual hue, said McCormick Chef Kevan Vetter.

Keywords: 
menu development
By Peter Romeo, Director of Digital Content
View More Articles By Peter Romeo

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
business card

We get the new folks abridged business cards saying, “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work in nutrition department.” We thought it would give them more ownership of the program and elevate their status and position in the organization. It also gives our team more self-confidence and self-worth as an employee, which can be a challenge with foodservice workers.

Ideas and Innovation
usc asian remodel

With a prime location in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s foodie capitols, the University of Southern California has plenty of dining competition. So when Kris Klinger, assistant vice president of retail operations, discovered that students were heading off campus for sushi and noodle bowls, he knew it was time to take action. The construction of Fertitta Hall, part of the university’s Marshall School of Business, provided the opportunity.

Klinger and Gary Marschall, associate director of USC auxiliary services in hospitality, shared photos of both the new Fertitta Cafe and a...

Ideas and Innovation
sandwich sub

At our corporate operation in the Kohl’s headquarters, two kinds of sandwiches are available daily—an artisan version and a more straightforward sub. While planning out a business model for the space, Kohl’s wanted something that was quality driven, but very sensitive to pricing for associates. Diners are comfortable spending about $6 to $7 for lunch.

Managing Your Business
briggo coffee haus kiosk

Though diners’ appetites for coffee are seemingly bottomless, adding a full-service coffee shop to every corner of a facility probably isn’t in the playbook. Here’s a look at how two operators added coffee service with relatively small footprints—with one decidedly futuristic (robot barista, anyone?), and the other low-tech but nimble.

Specialty coffee vending at Dell

Dell has a full-service Starbucks on its Red Rock, Texas, campus, but the location isn’t always convenient for a quick coffee pickup. “Certain times, you go into the bistro, like 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., there’s quite a long...

FSD Resources