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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The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

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When planning your menus, take note: college and university students think spicy is hot.

Fifty-seven percent of consumers age 18-34 find spicy flavors, “extremely appealing,” according to Technomic. And almost 50% of college students surveyed said they would like their schools to offer more ethnic foods and beverages, states a recent Technomic College & University Consumer Trend Report. Translation: they like their food kicked up a notch!

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Sodexo is partnering with celebrity chef Robert Irvine in an attempt to provide military communities with healthier meals.

The 10-year partnership will allow Sodexo to access chef Irvine’s knowledge of nutrition and fitness in its aim to benefit the quality of life for military members, the vendor said in a news release.

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The cafeteria at the Smithsonian's new National Museum for African American History and Culture is intended to be an extension of the museum, showcasing stations that offer cuisines from different geographic locations such as the Creole coast and agricultural South, Time reports .

The eatery, Sweet Home Cafe, was set up to highlight the wide range of African-American cuisine, Executive Chef Jerome Grant told Time. When it officially opens later this month, it will serve dishes such as shrimp and grits, pan-roasted oysters and a fried catfish po’boy.

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