On Kosher Menu Planning, for Patti Klos

Tufts University works with the Jewish community to create kosher concept.

At Tufts University, in Medford, Mass., dining services is currently working to create a kosher deli concept as part of a c-store, which is set to open next fall. Patti Klos, director of dining, spoke to FSD about the kosher menu planning process.

Q. How did the kosher concept come about?

We’ve been hearing from students for quite some time that they can’t keep kosher on our meal plan. The only opportunity they have is a Friday night Shabbat dinner that we put on. If you keep kosher during the week, most students would just be vegetarian and that is very limiting. Ultimately, our goal is to have kosher meat options available on a daily basis at each of our dining halls, but I think we are still several years away from that point. So for now we thought, if we had an existing venue that could provide a place where we could do some kosher offerings, what would it be? We brainstormed and we came up with made-to-order deli offerings out of some under-utilized space in one of our c-store locations. 

Q. How did the menu planning process work?

We consulted the kashrut [Jewish dietary laws] to explore what we thought we could do for a menu strategy and whether it would satisfy them in terms of it meeting their needs as being appropriately kosher. For example, if you want to have a kitchen that is kosher then one of the critical decisions you have to make is what kind of appliances are you going to cook on? Because if you have an open flame, the mashgiach [a Jewish person who supervises the kashrut in a kosher establishment] have to light that flame every time it goes out, which means you need constant supervision. That just wasn’t going to be manageable for us. So we agreed that in a deli environment, we could purchase kosher meats that were already cooked. We are allowed to heat the precooked items if we wanted to serve them toasted, but we won’t be cooking it to order. They also gave us a few ideas of vendors in the Boston area, which led us to a great kosher pickle.

Q. Where does the menu stand now?

We haven’t finalized the menu yet, but we will serve sandwich meats like corned beef, roast beef, turkey and pastrami on a variety of breads. We might do some type of a smoked salmon. We will serve hummus, tahini, sour pickles, pasta salad, cole slaw and potato salad. We’d like to offer soup, but it’s not easy to source around here if it’s going to be kosher. Everything will be made to order, but it will be wrapped so the students can take it with them. We’ll also allow them to carry these items into the dining hall, which isn’t usually allowed. 

Q. What was the biggest challenge with the concept’s menu planning?

As much as we appreciate recommendations of ingredients that the [mashgiach] has reported to be more traditional or good quality, we try to contain or be mindful of how many different suppliers we are using. That way we can manage costs and make delivery minimums. The sourcing of the ingredients will be our [biggest] challenge.

Q. What advice would you give to other operators who might want to do something similar?

Involve the community to the greatest extent possible. Currently with the Shabbat program the mashgiach is actually a student and quite knowledgeable. It doesn’t have to be a rabbi on campus. There are members of the community who are keeping kosher that could give you information. Just be open-minded. The other piece of it is that Muslim students who want to have halal meat can usually eat kosher meat. So we are reaching out to that community as well to see how we can serve that population too. 

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo aims to reduce carbon emissions by 34% at its foodservice and facilities management sites by 2025, a goal it says it will reach through such changes as converting cooking oil into biodiesel fuel and using energy-efficient HVAC systems.

In announcing this endeavor toward sustainability, Sodexo—which manages more than 32,000 sites globally—noted that over 7,200 of its sites in North America recycle aluminum and paper, and 8,640 recycle cardboard.

Menu Development
chefs council spread

Last October, we published the results of FoodService Director’s first annual Chefs’ Council Menu Trends survey, revealing predictions for menu shake-ups in 2016 . Many of the predictions panned out, including an increase in snacking, ever-spicier flavor profiles, veg-centric plates, fresh-pressed juices and build-your-own options. Now we’re back with next year’s forecast, culled from our panel of 50 Chefs’ Council members—culinarians representing the core segments of noncommercial foodservice. Some of the flavors, ingredients and cuisines expand on current trends, while others go off in...

Managing Your Business
coffee barista

Whether it’s a morning routine, an afternoon pick-me-up or an evening social ritual, few things are as universally appealing as coffee. Sixty-five percent of respondents in Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report say they ordered a cup of hot joe from a foodservice location in the past month, and 59% say the same about cold coffee. Everyone has an opinion about what makes it good, whether it’s a low price, a unique blend or a friendly barista.

“Coffee is so personal. There are a lot of people that are Dunkin’ fans. There’s a lot of Starbucks people,” says James Dravenack,...

Ideas and Innovation
sushi plate

We wanted to add sushi, but that’s not really my expertise. So we found a great local company that offered to put three sushi chefs on-site every day. They supply the ingredients, and if we meet the minimum revenue each week, than we receive a percentage of sales. We have been exceeding the weekly minimum sales, which we track in our POS, in two days.

FSD Resources