Ten things we learned from MenuDirections 2014

Mash-ups and kohlrabi are in, cutting back on sodium and more are takeaways from our 12th annual conference.

Published in FSD Update

After two and a half days of workshops, culinary demos and general sessions, attendees came away with dozens of actionable items to implement in their operations. The following list are but 10 of the things we learned at MenuDirections 2014. 

1. Mash-ups are in and fusion is out. The trend is to blend: Add vegetables to bulk up meat; combine sweet, savory and spicy in unexpected dishes like ginger sesame caramel; and merge the flavorings of multiple countries or regions, such as ají amarillo from Peru with masala tea from Kashmir and cassava from Brazil.

2. Today’s culinary school grads are more diverse than ever—41% are African-American, 25% are first-generation college students—and they want to be leaders who impact the social environment.

3. Chili is the No. 1 Googled recipe, meatless sandwiches are rising in fame and sandwich buns can actually be made from quinoa.

4. With persistence and dedication, it is possible to visit 92 restaurants in 17 days, as trend-tracking Chef Gerry Ludwig, Gordon Food Service corporate consulting chef, has done.

5. Kohlrabi is gaining widespread use in restaurants, the way Brussels sprouts did a few years ago.

6. The most common meat alternatives used are soy, tempeh, tofu, beans and legumes, seitan, quinoa and Greek yogurt.

7. Since whole-grain pastas don’t act the same as traditional semolina ones, chefs must look to delicate sauces and more assertive and aromatic herbs and vegetables to round out these dishes.

8. Chefs are cutting back on sodium by replacing it with a variety of herbs and seasonings, like black pepper, garlic powder, curry powder, cumin, dill seeds, basil, ginger, coriander and onion.

9. Cuisines from each Asian country have signature attributes—ingredients, methods and sensibilities—that make them unique. For example, ingredients such as ramen, yuzu and koji are found in Japanese cuisine, while citrus, coconut and tamarind are used in Vietnamese dishes.

10. The use of local woods, seasonings, fruits and berries has inspired 22 styles of barbecue within the U.S.—four styles in the Carolinas alone—and can continually be redefined by using ingredients in your own backyard.

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

Ideas and Innovation
edamame food samples

We have started adding healthier options to our cafe, and did sampling events to find out which snacks to use. I took the options to our administrative team first, then I took them to our department managers and then to employees as a whole. Not only did we get feedback throughout the ranks, but it also helped garner support and awareness of the new policy from all of the different groups.

FSD Resources