The Best...

Everyone loves to learn from the best. This month, the editors of FSD present just that: the best information, resources, stories, experiences and memories that 45 operators have to offer.

Trend from the past 10 years
The trend in local purchasing and featuring local produce, cheese, meats, etc. It is so refreshing.
—Julaine, Kiehn, director of campus dining services, University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.

Food-related movie I’ve seen
“Loverboy” (1989), which is, of course, about my favorite food—pizza!
—Lenny DeMartino, general manager for Parkhurst Dining Services, Highmark, Pittsburgh

Twist on comfort food
I had a truffle and lobster mac and cheese at the Island Grill in Cape May, N.J.
—Stu Orefice, director of dining services, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.

Resource for sustainability initiatives
I have actually gotten some great ideas and inspiration by monitoring NACUFS’ Twitter feed. I check in at least once a day and click forward if something catches my eye.
—Janet Paul Rice, associate director of dining services, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn.

Healthy tweak we’ve made to a menu item
Quinoa has been a new power item for us. We’ve added it to salads and soups for a super protein boost.
—Carlos Rivera, director of dining services for Culinart at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, New York

Special event we’ve held
Has to be our Road Kill Dinner. It was very tongue-in-cheek and it really appealed to the students’ sense of humor. I had challenged our team to come up with something out of the box and they certainly delivered.
—Dee Hardy, director of food and auxiliary services, University of Richmond, Richmond, Va.

Idea to attract new business
Southwest Airlines’ “It’s On”- Bags Fly for Free advertising campaign. At Villanova University we send a free lunch coupon at Christmas to all faculty and staff on campus, which always brings in new faces and new business.
—Tim Dietzler, director of dining services, Villanova University, Villanova, Pa.

Thing I’ve learned from a younger colleague
A funny one was that I cannot buy youth. Another good one was that I should be aware of the age difference and know how to teach our student employees by reaching into their world.
—Nancy Levandowski, director of dining services, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

Employee recognition program I’ve seen
The best employee recognition program I have seen—and copied—is from Harvard University, where they recognize a top employee who is able to initiate and implement a sustainability program or process. We give out a beautiful statue of a strand of wheat—referring to the fact that we do not have the right to waste even a single grain.
—Dean Wright, director of dining services, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Culinary web site I’ve ever seen
Cookinglight.com and Cookstr.com. We have used recipes from them for menu development and special events.
—Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary enterprises, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass.

Marketing promotion we ever ran
Our four-day-a-week produce stand. It promotes dining as a wellness-focused operation and also educates on health/wellness.
—Shawn LaPean, director of Cal Dining, University of California, Berkeley

Community outreach I’ve seen
We respond regularly to requests from community-based organizations, including churches, schools, the YWCA and even the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to provide a registered dietitian to speak on a variety of nutrition-related topics. The topics range from healthy eating to healthy diets to reduce the risk of cancer. Our dietitians have a variety of specialty backgrounds, including expertise in public health, pediatrics and geriatric nutrition, which make them excellent advocates in our communities.
—Veronica McLymont, director of food and nutrition services, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York

Ethnic concept I’ve visited
The made-to-order Tex-Mex station at the Whole Foods flagship store in Austin. They are constantly busy and offer what seems to be unlimited choices. It just goes to show that some demographics will pay for quality and choice
if you give them what they want.
—Laura Lozano, facilities manager, Dell Global Facilities Dining Services, San Antonio

Use of “stealth health:” I’m a fan of the book “Stealth Health: How to Sneak Nutrition Painlessly Into Your Diet,” by Evelyn Tribole. In the book, she covers tips and provides recipes for how to get more nutrition into your meals regardless of what your deficiency might be (aversion to fruit, veggies, fiber, etc.).
—Damian Monticello, corporate foodservice liaison, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Jacksonville, Fla.

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More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
food allergy

When potential students come to campus, we match them with a student from our allergy support group for a tour of our dining facilities. The ambassador helps the potential student to understand how they navigated campus with their food allergy. This showcases what we do for allergies on campus, and is a highly successful way to make the students feel good about dining.

Menu Development
muse school produce

Kayla Webb, executive chef at Muse School, has transitioned the private K-12 day school in Calabasas, Calif., to an entirely vegan menu over a three-year period. Webb talks about her menuing, and how the school’s kitchen earned the title of “greenest restaurant in the world” from the Green Restaurant Association.

Q: How did you help parents get used to the idea of an all plant-based diet?

A: The first year, we didn’t announce it. We were just serving one plant-based meal a week, so it wasn’t that drastic. We do monthly Muse Talks where we invite different speakers to our school to...

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce dirt

Savor at McCormick Place developed the Green Thumb brand for menu items and products featuring its rooftop bounty; the latest is a pale ale made with the first crop of hops grown on the roof. Promoting that branding and the convention center’s green certification has brought in business from groups with a sustainability focus.

Ideas and Innovation
business pamphlet fair show

As we struggle to recruit and retain millennials, we had our current millennial employees invite friends who don’t work for our organization to a Q&A session where we find out why our organization is or isn’t appealing to them, and what they are looking for in an employer. I recommend doing this off-site in a casual environment so you can get honest and open feedback that could be useful for better marketing.

FSD Resources