The foodservice ‘tourist’ reborn

Published in FSD Update

Foodservice tour of Rush University Medical Center the first of many Midwest visits.

One of the most exciting aspects of my move from New York City to Chicagoland is the opportunity to begin touring the Midwest to see foodservice operations that once required a plane ride and a few days out of the office to visit. I’m envisioning a fall filled with day trips to local colleges, hospitals, schools and corporations.

I made my first visit of the season last week, quite by happenstance. My wife had an appointment with a neurosurgeon whose office is in the Professional Building at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Because it was her first time seeing this doctor, I decided to drive her to the appointment. Now, I know Mary Gregoire, the hospital’s foodservice director, quite well, but it had been at least 10 years since I had visited her operation. So I called Mary and arranged a visit to tour the hospital’s recently completed patient tower and to see what may be in the future for the medical center.

The tour was impressive; the LEED-certified tower itself is a marvel of sustainability. On the foodservice side, the tower includes a staff-only dining room and galleys on each patient floor, where staff can prepare a variety of items for patients who for whatever reason did not like the meal they received.

Mary explained that the medical center’s logistics would make it extremely difficult for her department to do room service, so the galleys help improve patient satisfaction by providing them with alternatives. The Food Galley menu includes such items as chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese sandwich, hamburger, cheese omelet and lemon basil chicken. There are also a variety of cereals, sides and desserts offered.

But for me, the most interesting—and unexpected—part of the visit was the opportunity to taste a number of menu items being considered for a new restaurant-style menu that Mary said she hopes to introduce in November.

As we completed a walk-through of the basement kitchen, Mary ushered me into a conference room where executive chef Stan Walker and pastry chef/bakery manager Timothy Dvorak had laid out an array of entrées, sandwiches and desserts under consideration.

It was a wonderfully overwhelming experience to get a chance to weigh in on the process. The choices included slow-cooked pot roast, teriyaki-glazed salmon, pulled pork sandwich, turkey bacon wrap, jerk chicken salad, key lime tart, chocolate fondue (actually a chocolate ganache cut with orange juice), a dish of macerated strawberries and blueberries and a tres leche cupcake—which Timothy said is the most popular choice among the staff who have sampled the items. (To see photos of some of the proposed menu items, visit here.)

“We really can’t do room service, but a restaurant-style menu will give us the ability to offer patients more choices and improve patient satisfaction,” said Mary.

It was impossible for me to taste everything, especially since earlier in the tour I had sampled a number of items from the retail menu—including a very tasty quinoa breakfast parfait. But I have to give a thumbs up to the tender pot roast, the salmon and the tres leche cupcake, which was so moist I had to eat it with a spoon.

My time with Mary Gregoire and her staff is just one of several reasons why I love my job. Seeing firsthand how operators work to keep up with the trends and meet the challenges of the foodservice industry provides a deeper insight into the stories we report. Getting to eat while doing it makes the job just that much more palatable.

I am looking forward to continuing this road tour of the Midwest. Are you in the area and want to show off your operation, or are you planning a newsworthy special event? Give me a call at 646-708-7320 or send me an email at pking@cspnet.com and let me know. I’ve love to opportunity to add you to my schedule.

Keywords: 
menu development

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...

FSD Resources