Second Annual "The Best..."

Employees

Training exercise we’ve done
DISC Training, which is training based on a four-quadrant behavioral model to examine the behavior of individuals in their environment or within a specific situation. Armed with the knowledge relating to how people respond to information and situations, people can transform their interactions and it provides a platform for understanding and improved communication.
—Tod Nissle, vice president of operations for Compass Group, Microsoft, Redmond, Wash.

Employee recognition program I’ve seen
The Black Linen Award program was developed after a university’s executive unique customer service experience. Ernie Huff, associate vice president of student financial and administrative services, was eating breakfast in a hotel, wearing dark slacks. After the waiter took his order, the waiter removed the white linen napkin that had been on the table. When the waiter returned, he placed a black linen napkin on the table. “Why?” Huff asked. The waiter said, “I noticed you are wearing dark slacks and the white napkin would have left lint on them.” [Huff] shared this experience with us to illustrate that great service is a result of three things: anticipating customer needs, finding solutions to those needs and acting promptly. To recognize an employee for his/her outstanding commitment to exceptional service, recipients of the recognition receive a beautiful black linen napkin encased in a wooden frame.
—Rafi Taherian, executive director of Yale Dining, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

The best thing I’ve learned from a younger colleague
How to exploit social media in marketing to our customers.
—Bill Marks, director of food and nutrition services, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis

Team-building exercise we’ve done
Our managers prepare menu items in teams at our meetings. It gives them a chance to interact on the best way to prepare for why the kids would or wouldn’t like the items and what changes could make the item healthier or taste better. Anytime you can have your team interact about changes in your department, the change usually has a better result.
—Gail Koutroubas, food service director, Andover Public Schools, Andover, Mass.

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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