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
salad

We’re currently piloting a Salad Bar Happy Hour 
in Cafe 16. Due to Health Department regulations, any self-serve salad bar items must be disposed of after service. The salad bar goes “on sale” for 25 cents an ounce post-lunchtime to help reduce waste as well as offer value to customers.

Menu Development
sauces

Adding an entirely new cuisine to the menu can feel daunting. But what if you could dabble in international flavors simply by introducing a few new condiments? For inspiration, FSD talked to operators who are offering a range of condiments plucked from global regional cuisines.

“Most ethnic cuisines have some sort of sauce or condiment relishes that go with their dishes,” says Roy Sullivan, executive chef with Nutrition & Food Services at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. Condiments offered to diners at UCSF Medical include chimichurri (Argentina), curry (India), tzatziki (...

Ideas and Innovation
turnip juice brine

Give leftover brine new life by adding it to vegetables. In an interview with Food52, Stuart Brioza, chef and owner of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, says that he adds a splash of leftover brine while sauteeing mushrooms to increase their flavor profile. “We like to ferment turnips at the restaurant, and it’s a great way to use that brine—though dill pickle brine would work just as well,” he says.

Menu Development
side dishes

Operators looking to increase sales of side dishes may want to focus on freshness and value. Here’s what attributes consumers say are important when picking sides.

Fresh - 73% Offered at a fair price - 72% Satisfies a craving - 64% Premium ingredients - 56% Natural ingredients - 49% Signature side - 47% Something familiar - 46% Housemade/made from scratch - 44% Something new/unique - 42% Large portion size - 42% Healthfulness - 40% Family-size - 40%

Source: Technomic’s 2017 Starters, Small Plates and Sides Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

FSD Resources