Second Annual "The Best..."

Design

Restaurant design idea I’ve stolen
We purchased a few Electrolux Infared Panini Grills to speed up service in our customized deli stations located in residential dining facilities. We had struggled with speed of service with traditional panini presses.
—David Friend, director of dining services, West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va.

Recent equipment innovation I’ve seen
Since we do a lot of tableside cooking, the eco-friendly induction cooking system is fantastic. It allows instant control of cooking energy similar to gas burners, and because induction heats the cooking vessel itself, the possibility of burn injury is significantly less than with other methods.
—Robert Darrah, director of dining services, Legacy Retirement Communities, Lincoln, Neb.

Twist on a “traditional” cafeteria space I’ve seen
Brevard Public Schools’ Galley Grill. This was a hodgepodge outdoor area that was renovated and turned into a ship with two serving lines. The school used to be a middle school that served 800 students and it was turned into a high school that served 2,500 students. They only had two serving lines, so they needed additional points of service and the Galley Grill did that.
—Dawn Houser, director of nutrition services, Collier County Public Schools, Naples, Fla.

The Best, KU, Garden use of small space I’ve seen
We have a rooftop herb garden tucked away in a corner between some of the heating and cooling equipment. This area has always been locked away and was lost space. We now grow tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. While the roofing equipment utilizes a great deal of the square footage, it also provides much-needed shade to the more delicate herbs. We have 14 pickle buckets, three whiskey barrels and three earth boxes. This provides herbs for our catering operation and the full-service lunch restaurant during the summer months.
—Janna Traver, executive chef/assistant director for KU Dining Services, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
phone bed call sick

We make people call and directly talk to their boss or supervisor if they are reporting an absence for a shift. While it is more cumbersome, it is a conscious decision. We have adapted and implemented electronic methods to obtain efficiencies in just about every other functional area, except for electronic absence reporting systems. The direct supervisor can put more pressure on an employee to show up—especially those with some form of the “Super Bowl plague”—than any electronic system can.

Menu Development
ranch dressing chicken fingers

While salad bars are often the first place K-12 operators look to incorporate more fresh produce, few go as far as making their own salad dressings. But last fall, in a continuing effort to transition from prepackaged meals to an all-scratch menu, Mark Augustine, executive chef of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools, switched to concocting four varieties in-house—ranch, Caesar, Italian and Asian vinaigrette. The move, designed to eliminate artificial ingredients and lower fat and sodium, presented the biggest challenge when it came to ranch dressing, the school-...

Ideas and Innovation
business card

We get the new folks abridged business cards saying, “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work in nutrition department.” We thought it would give them more ownership of the program and elevate their status and position in the organization. It also gives our team more self-confidence and self-worth as an employee, which can be a challenge with foodservice workers.

Ideas and Innovation
tug hospital robot

Automation has opened up in recent years as foodservice operators across the country grapple with labor shortages. Robots deliver food trays to patients in hospitals, and they make sushi on college campuses. For some operators, they’re worthwhile to reduce strain on human employees and increase productivity.

Robots roamed the hallways when the University of California San Francisco Medical Center’s new Mission Bay campus opened last year. Though these robots have nicknames like Wall-E and Tuggie McFresh, they’re not a novelty. They’re a solution to a problem that administrators...

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