Second Annual "The Best..."

Catering

The best special event we’ve held in the last year
We hosted our NACUFS Regional Meeting last March, and the Dining Services team turned our marketplace servery into an upscale catering area with multiple platforms. We had a shrimp and grits station, a cold seafood bar, a smoked brisket and barbecue station, and an incredible dessert station with a variety of selections and in-house produced candies. Add a great band and everyone had a wonderful time.
—Dee Hardy, director of auxiliary services, University of Richmond, Richmond, Va.

Location for a catered event
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich. We did two holiday events there and the museum was decorated with Christmas trees. There is a large space and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Grand River. The museum staff was great and they had the best receiving area as far as food goes. The atmosphere was what made it so special.
—Randy Sparrow, director of food, nutrition and environmental services, Indiana University Health, Bloomington, Ind.

The Best, Sneakers Catering event we’ve done
We held a Suits and Sneakers Gala, which was a benefit reception and dinner for Coaches vs. Cancer, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society. The event was held on the basketball court of Stegeman Coliseum. It was a very formal event with the exception that everyone wore athletic shoes. The white-gloved servers circulated throughout the crowd of 400 guests with items like bacon-wrapped scallops with red pepper coulis, risotto cakes with lemon aïoli and beef bourguignonne in puff pastry. For dinner we served Maryland-style crab cakes with tarragon remoulade and petite filet mignon with red wine demi-glaze with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus bundles. The event was upbeat and fun despite it being very upscale.
—Jeanne Fry, director of food services, Bolton Dining Commons, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

Theme for a catered event
Food around the world. I attended an event that had a bunch of stations, and each station featured food from different parts of the world and the different cooking styles from those countries.
—Tim Prosinski, Director of food services, Berlin Public Schools, Berlin, Conn.

Specialty menu item we’ve created for a catered event
A compressed watermelon with basil salt. I loved this one because it was born from the mother of invention. I made it for a last-minute catering event from what we had available. It was the middle of summer and this little appetizer exemplified the bounty of the summer. It was unexpected and took people by surprise.
—Eric Eisenberg, executive chef, Swedish Health Services, Seattle

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

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