Who are your culinary grads of the future?

That answer and more at MenuDirections 2014 Kickoff Day: Sunday, February 23.

Published in FSD Update

Marketing and Merchandising: Action Stations
Bridget McManus-McCall, corporate executive chef and business development manager, Nestle Professional
Christopher Donato, corporate executive chef, Nestle Professional
Michael Taney, channel sales manager, Nestle Professional

Chef-inspired action stations are a proven way to keep customers excited about your foodservice program…and they can be very cost-effective. Setting up an interactive flatbread station, a soup/noodle station, or a mac and cheese station can maximize cross-utilization of ingredients; you can use the same mis en place for each, such as leftover cooked meats, roasted vegetables and dips.

Action stations are also a way to showcase global flavors; a soup station can change from Latin to Asian to Moroccan with a simple switching out of ingredients and a change in the flavor of the base broth. The presenters gave an overview of what customers are seeking today and how action stations can meet their needs:

  • Few guests are satisfied with healthy fare availability; even though healthy options are provided; they want more options and customization opportunities
  • Customers are more adventurous today and are demanding authenticity
  • Offer fresh ingredients in a customizable way, without added labor or waste
  • Customize stations as farm to table, gluten free and other hot trends
  • Easily offer ethnic dishes through the use of toppings and herbs
  • Easily change offerings to keep guests coming back
  • Offer a base ingredient, such as a soup broth, risotto or pasta, or flatbread—can be hot or cold offering
  • Offer toppings and proteins separately for customers to add to the base ingredient and customize the dish to their liking
  • Call out local produce/ingredients on station menus
  • Alternate between self-serve and manned stations. Either way, they don’t require much in the way of skilled labor
  • Challenge the manufacturers you work with to offer solutions

Attendees then had the opportunity to sample from two customized action stations: a flatbread station offering hummus, grilled vegetables and other toppings and a tortilla soup station offering two base broths (vegetarian and chipotle-black bean) with an array of condiments, such as pico de gallo, chopped scallions, cilantro, tortilla strips and other ingredients.

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