Second Annual "The Best..."

Misc.

Mistake I ever made
I was driving down the road talking with my produce distributor and asking him why he couldn’t deliver Washington state apples when I lived in New Hampshire. I dropped the phone and had to pull over. I happened to pull over at an apple orchard. That started my whole farm-to-school experience.
—Tony Geraci, executive director of child nutrition, Memphis City Public Schools, Memphis, Tenn.

Kitchen-related disaster that I can laugh at now
My first day at my first job as an executive chef in a steak restaurant, the kitchen was so hot all the light ballasts blew. We had no lights so I was cooking with a flashlight in my mouth. People were waiting for two hours for their meals. Thank God most of the customers were friends. My family had a table of 12 and had to listen to all the comments. I wasn’t laughing then but looking back I get hysterical.
—Brad Lange, director of dining services, Park Regency, Chandler, Ariz.

The best way I’ve found to relieve stress on the job
With the opening of our health and wellness complex, I now have the ability to go hit a racquetball around whenever things get a little tense.
—Damian Monticello, corporate foodservice liaison, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Jacksonville, Fla.

Food-related movie I’ve seen
“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” I have a passion for chocolate, and we all have that kid in us.
—Betty Perez, R.D., senior director of food and nutrition services at NYU Langone Medical Center, New York

Best, biryani Food memory I have
I toured India for six weeks to learn the style of cooking. Every day for two weeks I went to a different place. I went to a wedding and learned how to cook biryani, which is a typical food for a wedding feast. The cooking is so different.
—Dee Phillips, director of dining services, Davidson College, Davidson, N.C.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
delivery

We offer a food delivery service to students who are too sick to eat at the dining halls. Oftentimes when we’re sick, we want simple, bland food that’s easy to digest. We also include a bottle of water since staying hydrated is super important. Students who have used the sick meal program are very grateful that we offer this service because they don’t have to stress over how they’re going to eat when they’re too sick to come into the dining halls. The program is also important in preventing the spread of illness.

Ideas and Innovation
smoothie

Nurses often mention that at 2 p.m. they are dragging and just trying to get through their 12-hour shift. This winter I will be implementing a 2 p.m. pick-me-up, which will include a smoothie station where they can create their own smoothie to help get them through their shift. It will be filled with energy-boosting ingredients to personalize their own drink, such as bananas, almonds, spinach and even dark chocolate.

Ideas and Innovation
chili

Winter is when our guests frequently crave something comforting and hearty, and chili is great for that. Our plan is to boost guest engagement this winter by inviting them to design a unique chili experience. The guest chooses the type of chili first, then the vessel: bowl, bread or potato. Next, they customize their dish even further by choosing the toppings, which will be categorized as traditional, creamy, crunch or heat. The wild card, crunch and heat categories, are where my team and I will flex our creativity and highlight different flavors, ingredients or techniques.

Ideas and Innovation
new year party

In search of inspiration for this letter, I turned to the one I wrote for January 2017, in which I griped about some trends I wanted to toss in the new year. Twelve months later, the Sriracha trend has calmed down, food trucks seem slightly less pervasive and, while the definition of “clean” eating continues to evolve, it’s not so laser-focused on GMOs. So it seems my predictions were correct, including the one about where I’d be eating on New Year’s Day (though I had no clue my now-fiance would propose to me that night over duck noodle soup).

However, since this year has been...

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