5 takeaways from MenuDirections 2015

fsd-2014-lisa-poggas

FSD of the Year Lisa Poggas

From barbecue and beans to mushrooms and tapas, there was a lot of food—and food for thought—passed around last month when more than 240 operators and food manufacturers from around the country convened in Memphis, Tenn., for the 13th annual MenuDirections conference. 

1. There's more to the world of barbecue...

Neel Sahni, chef and national foodservice marketing manager for the National Pork Board, demonstrated how other cultures use various parts of the hog to create their own types of barbecue.

While butchering half a hog in front of the audience, Sahni explained what cuisines use which parts of the pig and how they use them.

For example, in Mexico chefs use the collar butt, rolled off the shoulder, to make cochinita pibil. Koreans prepare Bo Ssam by taking country-style ribs from where the pork shoulder and loin meet. The ribs are marinated in a mixture of sugar, salt, onion, ginger, garlic, ssamjang and kochujang and then slow roasted before they are grilled. To make pinchos, Puerto Ricans use pork belly, cut into 1-inch cubes and marinated in sour orange, vinegar, oregano, garlic and cumin. The pork belly cubes are slow-roasted, then skewered and grilled.

2. South American cuisine getting its due

Jorge Cespedes, corporate chef for Food IQ, a culinary research firm in Springfield, Mo., prepared a classic Spanish torta using beans and a variety of spices. “South American cuisine is now becoming a big deal [in the U.S.] for being a very flavorful type of cooking,” Cespedes said. “And that is a little funny because the cuisine has been around for a long time.” He listed Peru, Argentina and Brazil as the top three South American countries in terms of “hot” cuisines.

He also suggested that Spanish cuisine is the most innovative in the world because of how proponents treat tapas, or small plates. As Americans in particular embrace smaller portions, tapas are becoming much more important to chefs.

“Tapas allow us to be open to any flavors as long as the dish is small,” Cespedes said. “People are more willing to try something if the dish is smaller, because if they don’t like it they don’t feel like they have wasted a lot of food.”

3. Plants are giving meat a run for its money

Kikkoman chef Andrew Hunter talked about the use of non-animal proteins as a way to satisfy a growing desire by consumers to eat less meat. He demonstrated this vividly with a breakfast parfait that paired yogurt with protein-packed quinoa and chia seeds, which added a filling texture to an otherwise light dish.

Steve Solomon, culinary strategist for the Mushroom Council, and Lesa Holford, a chef at Ohio State University, showed the mushrooms’ ability to add flavor and moisture to ground meats.

As attendees sampled sliders with a 50-50 blend of meat and mushrooms, Solomon explained that a growing number of chain restaurants and even food manufacturers are using mushrooms as a meat extender and  flavor enhancer.

4. Lisa Poggas named 2014 FSD of the Year

Lisa Poggas developed a hotel-like foodservice program for a healthcare facility and earned FoodService Director magazine’s FSD of the Year award.

A registered dietitian, Poggas is the director of nutrition and environmental services at Parker Adventist Hospital, in Parker, Colo., and the director of nutrition at Castle Rock Adventist Hospital, in Castle Rock, Colo.

Poggas was chosen from the past year’s 12 FSDs of the Month by the magazine’s editorial team and advisory board.“I am stunned,” Poggas said. “Hearing all of the other accomplishments of the other FSDs of the Month, I am truly honored.”

5. The perfect pair

To win the third annual MenuDirections Culinary Competition, Darin Leonardson, the director of hospitality at Golden Living, a senior care provider in Plano, Texas, and Antoinette Bunn-Savage, the catering supervisor at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla., decided to set themselves apart by creating a center-of-the-plate dish more evocative of a brunch menu than a dinner menu.

The pair settled on a savory rendition: an airy, gluten-free fire-braised pork torta made with tamari and harvest mushrooms as well as a pork slider made with a ponzu sauce. 

“We decided to do something different,” Leonardson said. “Everyone decided to do a pork entree for lunch or dinner. So [we decided to] do brunch.”
Prior to the competition, eight contestants were randomly selected from a hat and paired up into four teams. Each team had a week to meet and plan their dish. Entries were judged on taste, originality, appearance and the dish’s applicability in a non-commercial setting. 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
email

Communication is key, and [managers] are busy too. One tip I picked up from another director was to label my subject line with the header “action,” “information” or “response” followed by a brief description of the email contents. That way they can filter through their inboxes during their busy days to know which emails need their attention immediately and which they can save to read later.

Ideas and Innovation
salmon and yogurt

With all the hype around probiotics, we decided to create a daily dish that incorporates probiotics in addition to prebiotics. You rarely hear about prebiotics, and this was a great way to highlight how the two work synergistically to maintain a healthy gut. Our chefs have developed menu items such as roasted salmon with yogurt and mint vinaigrette, kale and quinoa salad with warm maple dressing, and leek soup with prickled cucumbers, to name a few.

Industry News & Opinion

Buckeye Union High School District in Buckeye, Ariz., has introduced monthly chef demos to encourage students to try different foods as well as healthy eating habits, AZ Family reports.

Each month, chefs conduct a lunchtime demo in the cafeteria at the district’s three high schools. After viewing the demo, students are then encouraged to sample some of the dish that was prepared.

The demos were introduced just after each of the cafeterias were renovated with a food court-style layout, allowing students to select from a variety of options during lunch.

Read the full...

Industry News & Opinion

Boston Public Schools is the latest district to join the Urban School Food Alliance, a nonprofit group that aims to help districts provide high-quality student meals while keeping costs down.

With the addition of Boston, the Alliance includes 11 schools and says it now reaches nearly 3.7 million students. The group has grown its total purchasing power to $831 million in food and supplies as it continues to increase its membership.

“Thanks to support from the Kendall Foundation, Boston’s membership in the Alliance will serve our mission of increasing access to locally and...

FSD Resources