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

Industry News & Opinion

The School District of Philadelphia and Baltimore City Public Schools are the latest districts in the Urban School Food Alliance to switch to compostable plates.

The move to the eco-friendlier products will save 19 million polystyrene products from landfills, according to a news release .

Schools often use polystyrene products due to their low cost. Polystyrene trays cost on average around 4 cents apiece, while compostable plates cost an average of 12 cents each. The Urban School Food Alliance’s collective buying power enabled them to create a compostable plate that costs...

Managing Your Business
allergies

Guy Procopio got a taste of the future when Michigan State University hosted a Boy Scout event in 2015. Out of 10,000 participants at the East Lansing, Mich., campus, Procopio, the director of dining services, received 1,400 requests to meet special dietary needs, including a wide spectrum of allergies, gluten intolerance or insensitivity, and other new or unusual hyper-specialized diets.

This dining trend isn’t letting up, at least in America: Food allergies in children increased approximately 50% from 1997 to 2011. They now affect one in 13 children in the United States,...

Industry News & Opinion

Students of Broward County Public Schools in Florida were treated to a special meal by celebrity chef Aria Kagan during lunch last week.

The chef and former contestant on “The Next Food Network Star” prepared her farm-fresh pesto panini in front of students at McNicol Middle School in Hollywood, Fla.

Her visit was part of the district’s Chefs Move to Broward initiative, through which a chef from nonprofit Wellness in the Schools visits district cafeterias each month to prepare a healthy meal. The chef then teaches cafeteria staff how to make the dish so it can be...

Managing Your Business
woman alone in kitchen

In a post-Harvey Weinstein world, there’s an awful anticipation over which star’s worst-kept secret will be outed next. The outpouring of claims of sexual harassment and abuse helped popularize the #MeToo social media campaign, encouraging women to share their stories and spurring allegations against upwards of 60 high-profile men. In October, the movement’s momentum hit the foodservice industry. Since, behemoths such as Mario Batali, John Besh and Todd English were forced to confront accusations of alleged sexual harassment or misconduct.

For many women, the scope of the industry’...

FSD Resources