Bringing the chef out front

Published in FSD Update

G.U.E.S.T. encourages customer interaction with the chef. 

A new program at Highmark, in Pittsburgh, is bringing the chef to the table. Through weekly Chef’s Table demonstrations, Highmark employees and guests are invited to be the G.U.E.S.T. of Cameron Clegg, executive chef with Parkhurst Dining at Highmark. The sessions allow Clegg to personally interact with guests to answer questions, field comments and feedback, and introduce them to new menu items while sharing tools and information to prepare healthier dishes at home. The program is “taking away the middleman,” according to Clegg, who is eager to “get out of his comfort zone back of house” and communicate directly with guests while learning from them as well.

The program has five specific goals, incorporated in the acronym G.U.E.S.T.:

  • Guest-Chef Interaction to involve guests in “food-to-table” dining with culinary exhibitions
  • Unique Opportunity for the chef to be visible and in direct communication with guests to offer a total café experience
  • Experience Culinary Creations so that guests can sample healthful meals made with authentic ingredients and intense flavor profiles
  • Satisfy Desire to Learn by providing simple takeaway techniques for use in everyday home cooking
  • Tell Us Feedback by sharing comments to improve guest satisfaction and support a better overall dining experience.

Healthy items are prepared during the weekly sessions and are focused on a central theme, such as spices, or around global events, like the Olympics. Samples and recipes of the demoed items are available for guests, and larger portions are available as an add-on to meals. “We want to get guests more excited and increase guest participation,” says Lenny DeMartino, general manager for Parkhurst at Highmark. “And it’s a nice way to increase check average.” 

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Hutchinson Middle School in Hutchinson, Minn., invited students to help serve lunch in an effort to encourage their peers to try new, healthy recipes, Hutchinson Leader reports.

The students, who are part of the school’s Students in Action Club, created posters to advertise the new meal and helped serve it to students during lunch.

The school’s kitchen manager, Janet Schmidt, said that around 37 more students than normal got in line to try the meal. The school plans to have students from the club help serve lunch once every month.

Read the full story via Hutchinson...

Industry News & Opinion

In an effort to trim costs, the country’s largest senior living company laid off 100 staff members, including regional dining services directors, reports Senior Housing News .

Not all employees who were laid off will technically leave the company, Senior Housing News notes, as some will be reassigned to alternative positions. Brookdale recently posted third-quarter earnings that fell short of analysts’ expectations and that the company’s CEO called disappointing.

At the end of last year, the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company employed 53,000 workers on a full-time basis, and...

Industry News & Opinion

After receiving mixed feedback from parents, Randolph County School District in Asheboro, N.C., is inviting parents to tour the district’s kitchens and cafeterias to see how the food for school meals is made, Fox 8 reports.

School officials say that the tours, part of the district’s first Food Day for Parents, will give parents an inside look at the upkeep of the facilities, as well as enable them to sample some food and see how the district is upholding USDA guidelines.

Officials also hope that the tours will provide them with more guidance on what parents and students are...

Industry News & Opinion

After fielding complaints from parents and students, Sodexo is launching an initiative to improve dining services at Emerson College in Boston, the Berkeley Beacon reports.

The initiative will kick off this month with an event dubbed Fresh Start, marking the start of several moves aimed at improving service—including the hiring of a new executive chef, the addition of a second sous chef, and retraining current staff on food preparation and presentation.

Members of the Emerson community will also be able to share feedback through the introduction of monthly forums, as well...

FSD Resources