What You Need To Know: November 2013

This month: all-beef burgers are booted in Fairfax schools, guacamole and chips are a hit at Northwestern University, Metz's Live Well program adds whole grains into its concept and more.

Published in FSD Update

> Metz’s Live Well program goes “grain”y

Metz Culinary Management, based in Dallas, Pa., has expanded the depth of its Live Well nutrition program by introducing a whole-grains initiative into the concept. The initiative, which includes recipes and point-of-sale materials, was rolled out in Metz’s corporate, university and healthcare accounts, with an expansion into the K-12 market planned for later this year.

Ryan McNulty, director of culinary development, says the foodservice management firm partnered with one of its vendors to introduce new products and create recipes around those items. The goal was to make the nutrition program stronger for vegetarians and vegans.

The items include wild rice, bulgur, quinoa, wheat berries, kamut, sprouted brown rice and an orzo blend. McNulty and his team came up with a number of recipes for dishes like composed salads and breakfast parfaits.

“We even came up with a quesadilla that has all the traditional ingredients, but we add about one cup of quinoa spread around the quesadilla,” McNulty says.

The recipes were sent out to unit managers with this note: “Whole grains are a wonderful answer to the nutritional puzzle posed by a vegetarian or vegan diet. They have amazing nutritional profiles, and they also provide a hearty base for entrées, soups, salads, parfaits and desserts.”

“We offered [operators] recipes,” McNulty adds, “but we also told them to treat the grains like a blank canvas and use them as they would any regular rice or pasta.”

He notes that customer feedback thus far has been positive, but he cautioned that he has “a lot more work to do” to make the program stronger and to prepare it for the K-12 market.

> 15,655

The number of orders of guacamole and chips that were ordered in the first year of operation of Fontera Fresco on the campus of Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill. The Rick Bayless concept is the only such location on a college campus. Students can customize their guac with toppings including toasted pepitas, spicy roasted peppers, bacon and sun-dried tomatoes. The location also offers tacos, tortas, quesadillas and tamales. Like other Bayless dining locations, Northwestern’s concept purchases much of its produce, cheese and proteins from sources located within 100 miles of campus. 

> All-beef burgers booted in Fairfax Schools

Last year Fairfax County Public Schools, in Virginia, eliminated its 27-ingredient hamburger in favor of an all-beef product. The problem: Students didn’t like the 100% beef burger. Penny McConnell, the district’s food and nutritional service director, said students didn’t like the look or taste of the all-natural burger, according to The Washington Post. Now a 26-ingredient burger has replaced the all-beef version. “Students are our customers and we listen to them and implement their requests if possible,” McConnell said. 

> 3.1 million

The reduction during a seven-week trial period in the amount of M&Ms consumed by Google’s New York office after the candy was put in opaque containers. Healthier snacks like dried fruits and nuts were displayed in glass jars. The tech company was hoping to effect healthier snacking patters for its 2,000 employees in the Big Apple.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

FSD Resources