First Day of MenuDirections

A round of flavorful workshops and a fantastic Dine-Around kick off the conference.

Well, the first day of MenuDirections 2012, in Charleston, S.C., is in the book, and it went off without a hitch. From a lunch with foods prepared by nearly 20 sponsors to a Dine-Around at three of Charleston’s best-known restaurants, our 150 operator attendees were treated to one culinary delight after another.

We even got the weather to cooperate with us, as we walked around the city’s Market District for the evening’s event, at A.W. Shuck’s, High Cotton and Fleet Landing. We finished with a dessert reception sponsored by—and provided by—the crew in the Bunge Oils food truck, parked outside our hotel. All in all, it was a fantastic start to our 10th annual conference.

The day began with a small acknowledgement of the fact that this is our 10th annual event. Bill Laychur, executive chef at Penn State University, provided a video remembrance of his attendance at our first conference. As attendees entered the ballroom for the opening session, they were able to view a slide show of photos compiled from all nine previous conferences.

The afternoon’s workshops focused on marketing health, with presentations from Peter Truitt on The Local Movement, Chef Michelle Dudash on Stealth Health, and myself and Dave Zino on Steal This Healthy Idea. Perhaps in deference to the fact that we would all overindulge later at the Dine-Around, the afternoon sessions mercifully contained only one culinary demonstration.

That changes Monday when, after a keynote address by Eastern Illinois University professor James Painter, Ph.D., on 10 Foods for a Healthier Lifestyle, we roll into culinary workshops on Mediterranean, Latino and Korean cuisines.

I have been most impressed by the hospitality of the people of Charleston and the fact that this is quite the food town. I haven’t had a bad meal yet. The hotel’s food and service have been as advertised, and our attendees tell us they have been impressed thus far with every aspect of the conference. I hope we can continue to meet their expectations.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
unsung heroes graphic

Febin Bellamy, a senior at Georgetown University, is the founder of Unsung Heroes, a nonprofit that features service workers on college campuses in man-on-the-street-style Facebook interviews. This year, Bellamy is working with a dozen schools to launch their own chapters of the storytelling platform. Here’s what he’s learned about staff shoutouts.

Q: Why did you decide to start Unsung Heroes?

A: One day I started a conversation with a custodial worker in the business school that I would see all the time. I learned that we had a lot of similarities; for instance, we both wanted to...

Ideas and Innovation
bolognese sauce

We’re trying to bring scratch cooking to all the elementary schools, but we’re taking it dish by dish. Right now, we satellite a lot of the dishes out. This month we made a Bolognese from scratch, and went to each of the schools to talk to them about the process and see if they could implement it. It helps us find out the hurdles and what they are going to need to make it work.

Ideas and Innovation
rolling silverware

Ensuring that employees regularly complete the busywork missing from their daily checklist can be a challenge, but these tasks often help an operation run efficiently with fewer unexpected costs. At Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., Regional Executive Chef Dustin Cochran has found a solution to ensure his walk-in coolers always have a clean vent. Cochran starts with a thorough cleaning of the vent, then slips a hairnet over it to catch the dust. Instead of getting employees to deep clean the vents, they need only replace the hairnet.

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

FSD Resources