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.

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Today’s colleges and universities know they should offer more than a large selection of breakfast cereals in the morning and chicken tenders at lunch to appeal to students. When it comes to what’s trending on campuses, here’s a look at what directors can tune into to boost engagement.

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