20 Most Influential: The Celebrity Chef

Non-commercial foodservice has stars in its eyes for these famed culinarians.

The Celebrity Chef

There is no doubt that celebrity chef worship has had a tangible effect on modern foodservice like never before. With the rise of the Food Network, “Top Chef” and countless other food-obsessed media, every customer has become a critic, and often what satisfies them is food with an aura of fame. And it’s not just the customers who have starry eyes.

“I know that [celebrity chef culture] motivates our younger chefs,” says Ron DeSantis, director of culinary excellence at Yale University. “Celebrity chefs get the more mature chefs thinking, but they really fire up the younger chefs. I have a couple of them ask, ‘How can I get on ‘Chopped?’’’ I think that is great because it tells me that everyone here is alive and well in their professions and they’re not just sleeping on the job. They are excited about cooking and being a chef.”

The most interesting thing about how celebrity chefs influence non-commercial markets is the variety of ways the culture pops up in operations. The most obvious cases of celebrity chef power wielding are Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” and Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools initiative. Both these efforts use the weight of famous chefs to try and enact real change—for better or worse—in foodservice, especially in school meals. Another aspect of this culture’s reach is the celebrity chef partnerships that bring in recipes to operations, such as Marcus Samuelsson’s street foods concept at Restaurant Associates cafés or Mai Pham’s Asian cuisine at Sodexo accounts. Finally, there are the tried-and-true guest chef series that bring these chefs into operations for cooking demonstrations and to help train and inspire staff.

“Our students watch these shows and then demand higher quality food,” DeSantis says. “They don’t want cafeteria food. Our goal has never been to be the best college and university cafeteria in the world. Our goal is to be the best restaurant-style foodservice in college and universities. Celebrity and star chefs help us with those efforts.” 


Foodservice Director has undertaken a bold initiative by identifying people who we believe are having the biggest impact on non-commercial foodservice. Our list may surprise you and should certainly intrigue you. Our honorees have backgrounds as varied as their personalities. They range from the father of the modern-day food truck to the wife of a sitting president. They include operators and suppliers, chefs and consultants, CEOs and civil servants. There are traditionalists and there are mavericks. Well-known names share space with hot newcomers. In all, 17 people, two groups of individuals and one institution compose the list. It’s time to meet FSD’s 20 Most Influential.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Managing Your Business
hand chip card

Between menu planning, budgets and the other myriad concerns FSDs face, it’s easy to overlook the simple ID and/or cash cards issued to diners. But making the choice to upgrade technology can unlock the potential of these once-humble cards: They can be room keys, event tickets and, perhaps most importantly, a needed additional layer of security.

That’s the future of student IDs at the University of Notre Dame, which will switch from magnetic strip cards to chip-based ones in August 2017. “Traditionally, the ID cards have been used as point-of-entry access for dining operations,”...

Menu Development
salad chicken

Vegetables and grains have stepped into the spotlight, thanks to the “flipping the plate” trend, but protein is still an important part of a balanced diet. Sources including meat, cheese, nuts, and meat alternatives such as tofu and tempeh can and should still be on the plate—albeit as a side dish or topping rather than the main event.

“Whatever we do [as FSDs] needs to be rooted in the culture, and today’s culture is all about healthy eating and plant-focused meals,” says Chris Studtmann, executive chef at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “A recipe is an idea; culture is...

Menu Development
jackfruit

It emerged as a top food trend on Pinterest’s 2017 predictions, is “the latest miracle food” according to Epicurious, and was called “a nutritional bonanza” by NPR. Jackfruit is the latest superfood garnering buzz, and Even Stevens Sandwiches has gone after the vegetarian-friendly option for a recently launched torta. Here, Culinary Director Brandon Price shares three lessons learned from adding jackfruit to the menu.

Finding the best form

Using fresh jackfruit wasn’t the answer for the chain. It has to be sourced internationally, and breaking it down cuts into labor costs. But...

FSD Resources