MenuDirections 2013: Recipe and Diet Revamps on Day Two

Chef Jet Tila and a power panel led by Dr. James Painter headline second day of conference.

The second day of MenuDirections 2013 featured two general sessions focused on revamps—both of recipes and lifestyles.

Celebrity chef Jet Tila, managing partner, manager food and beverage at The Charleston in Santa Monica, Calif., kicked the morning off with a cooking demonstration designed to take two comfort foods and make them a little bit healthier. The presentation started with classic Thai curry. Tila was able to reduce calories by substituting tofu for beef and cut salt by using aromatics as flavor boosters. The second dish was chicken friend steak, mashed potatoes and gravy. To decrease calories chef Tila used cornmeal flour and cornstarch instead of pure flour for the dredge for the chicken. He also used skim milk for the gravy instead of cream and made a slurry with water and flour to add thickness. He cooked the potatoes in a steamer and riced them to make them fluffy. He also used sour cream in the potatoes instead of butter and cream. All these changes shaved off 471 calories from this classic Southern favorite.

Other observations from the session:

• Indian curry is made by a masala of dried spices. Thai curry is ground together from shallots, garlic lemon grass and fresh herbs.

• Never shake a can of coconut milk. Instead of oil use the cream from the top of the coconut milk to caramelize onions, shallots and garlic. It builds flavor.

• Yum in Thai means the perfect balance of sweet, salt, sour and spicy.

The second general session of the day featured MenuDirections favorite Dr. James Painter, R.D., chair, school of family and consumer sciences at Eastern Illinois University. This year, Painter brought along Tara Gidus, M.S., R.D., CSSD, LD/N, of Tara Gidus Nutrition Consulting, and Marie Spano, M.S., R.D./LD, FISSN, CSCS, of Marie Spano Nutrition Consulting, for a power panel that looked at sugar as a friend and sugar as a foe.

Painter remarked that the important thing to remember with sugar is that the more added sugar your body takes in, the fewer nutrients you take in. So sugar is a foe when it replaces other nutrients. Painter also waded into the controversial question of chocolate milk in schools, saying he felt that anything that got students to get the nutrients found in milk was worth a little added sugar. He thought the same with sugar in salad dressing since it gets people to eat salad. However, sugar becomes a foe when it takes the place of nutrients, such as in fruit drinks where the marketing makes consumers believe they are getting real fruit when they are drinking mostly sugar water such as Sunny D.

Other observations from the session:
• Tara Gidus: Figs and raisins retain more nutrients when they are dried than dried cranberries. Dried cranberries have six times the sugar as a fresh cranberry. Dried fruits are excellent during exercise, especially for athletes. 

More From FoodService Director

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’...

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce dirt

Savor at McCormick Place developed the Green Thumb brand for menu items and products featuring its rooftop bounty; the latest is a pale ale made with the first crop of hops grown on the roof. Promoting that branding and the convention center’s green certification has brought in business from groups with a sustainability focus.

Ideas and Innovation
business pamphlet fair show

As we struggle to recruit and retain millennials, we had our current millennial employees invite friends who don’t work for our organization to a Q&A session where we find out why our organization is or isn’t appealing to them, and what they are looking for in an employer. I recommend doing this off-site in a casual environment so you can get honest and open feedback that could be useful for better marketing.

FSD Resources