Reflections from UMass Culinary Conference

After two days, one comment stands out from all the rest.

During the first two days of the 18th annual Chefs Culinary Conference at the University of Massachusetts, I heard presentations from a number of well-known chefs, researchers and academics. There were talks on street food, world cuisine and healthy dining. Panelists discussed sustainability, health and wellness and customer service. And there was food, plenty of food, from all around the globe being prepared and sampled.

And through all of this culinary cacaphony, one comment stood out from everything else, at least in my mind. One simple sentence resonated with me, perhaps because it can apply to just about any endeavor. It certainly is as true for publishing as it is for foodservice.

The comment came from Victor Gielisse, director of advancement and business development for the Culinary Institute of America. He told the more than 100 chefs assembled in the Marriott Room of the UMass Conference Center that there are but two choices in business:

"You can either be distinct, or extinct."

Now, extinction might seem to be a harsh word to use in front of a group of chefs working in the college environment. After all, very few institutions of higher education appear ready to go belly-up. But if you substitute the word "irrevelant" for extinct, the meaning is essentially the same. Stand out from the crowd, be a standard-setter or an innovator, or find your operation ignored, lumped together with a host of institutions that are "adequate", "satisfactory" or just "all right." In other words, boring and unnoticed. 

Keywords: 
chefs

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

This semester, the East Quad dining team at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is taking steps to offer more authentic global cuisine , Michigan Daily reports.

The team has partnered with the Office of Student Life to start a conversation with students on how best to create and serve Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Additionally, the university invited chefs from Japan and India to campus to help its chefs create more authentic recipes.

The school’s push for more accurate global cuisine was partially inspired by an international food event that got cancelled...

Industry News & Opinion
Madison food truck

The Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, Wis., has partnered with a local organization to debut a food truck that will serve healthy, locally sourced lunch options for Madison high school students, according to The Capital Times .

The truck, which was donated by the Emmi Roth Cheese Co., will visit four high schools Tuesday through Friday, spending a day at each campus. Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch can use the food truck as they would the school cafeteria for no-cost or discounted meals.

Members of MMSD and partner organization REAP Food...

Industry News & Opinion

Identifying prospective employees may be less challenging for foodservice operators than getting would-be recruits to complete the hiring process , according to a new study of why job applicants bail.

The report shows that nearly three out of fours applicants (74%) will drop their effort to be hired if they suspect management is racist, and two out of three (62%) will flee if they learn of sexual harassment allegations. Roughly the same proportion (65%) will halt their pursuit if they encounter indications of a gender gap in pay.

About half (45%) of candidates won’t show...

Menu Development
zoodles

Here’s how two operations are spotlighting produce this season.

Oodles of zoodles

Binghamton University underscored its growing focus on plant-based options with a recent zoodle pop-up on campus. The pop-up, which served vegetable noodle bowls in vegan and vegetarian varieties, sold out of the dishes in four hours. The Binghamton, N.Y., school aims to add zoodles to its regular menu in the fall.

A buffet boost

The dining team at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, recently re-evaluated its buffet offerings with an eye toward adding healthy options. It updated the fruit and...

FSD Resources