Little things matter

I found that one question could not be answered at the Food Service Management Educators Council at the National Food Service Management Institute at the University of Mississippi.

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking before the biennial meeting of the Food Service Management Educators Council at the National Food Service Management Institute at the University of Mississippi. The members are faculty of universities around the country with Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management programs.

My topic was “Educating the Millennials,” and took a big-picture approach to some of the trends that are having a major impact on non-commercial foodservice. They included sustainability, health and wellness, social media and “culinary geography,” the increasing influence of global cuisines on menus.

The morning after I spoke, one of the presenters was Cyndie Story, PhD, R.D., a chef, dietitian, one-time school foodservice director and current menu consultant. Her topic was “Teaching Culinary Techniques,” and the one-hour presentation might have come across as extremely basic, particularly if you were a chef—or even a foodservice director. She talked about calibrating thermometers, cutting cantaloupe properly, knife sharpening skills, food safety and even the right way to cut an orange into wedges. But Story had an overriding message for the women and men in that lecture hall, and that was this: Little things matter.

“You are teaching our future foodservice leaders, our future trainers,” said Story. “You are not teaching your students to be on the Food Network. You are teaching them basic foodservice skills, and you should be teaching beyond what the textbook says.”

She pointed out to the group that young college graduates, stepping into management roles, often have to instruct kitchen staffs with many more years of experience, and they need to have the credibility to impart wisdom to people “who may have been doing things the same way for 25 years.”

“When your students go out into the world, how many of them are certified in food safety?” she asked. The implication was clear.

food safety, training

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