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

Industry News & Opinion

The menu served at Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, is headed for an overhaul after its CEO and management team ate a strict hospital food diet for a week and were unhappy with their options. The foodservice department has been fielding patient complaints for years, but decided to take action after facing the issue head on.

“Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat,” Director of Food Services Kevin Peters told Ottawa...

Industry News & Opinion

With overtime pay likely to become a reality for some salaried foodservice employees after Dec. 1, operators are rethinking what they expect managers to do off-site as part of their responsibilities. Answering email or scheduling shifts at home didn’t matter when the employees were exempted from overtime if they earned more than $23,660 per year. But with that threshold more than doubling on Dec. 1 to $47,476, a half hour spent here and there on administrative tasks could push a salaried manager over the 40-hours-per-week threshold and entitle him or her to overtime. And how does the...

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

FSD Resources