The ubiquitous chef?

It's somewhat of a miracle that chefs seem to be everywhere in non-commercial foodservice.

The June issue of FoodService Director will focus on the increasing role of chefs in non-commercial foodservice. As I began to organize my notes and plan my calls for the feature, I started reflecting on just how far these segments—particularly schools and hospitals—have come in a culinary sense.

When I began covering foodservice 30 years ago, chefs were a rare commodity outside of restaurants and hotels. But for those chefs who were working in colleges or B&I operations, one common theme seemed to emanate from their histories. Most came into non-commercial operations because they were burned out, tired of working 80-hour weeks, weekends and most holidays. They wanted a life outside the business so they could raise a family or at least just feel human.

Most students in culinary schools considered work in a hospital or a nursing home or college to be beneath them, a role reserved for those students who weren't quite "good enough" to make it in a restaurant or resort. And, truth be told, most culinary instructors didn't really talk up the non-restaurant side of the industry.

Things are quite different today. More and more, chefs are entering non-commercial foodservice so they can make a difference. Sure, there's still a lot to be said for working conditions, but chefs are seeing just what is possible in the non-commercial world and they like it. If chefs can teach schoolchildren the wonders and complexities of food beyond burgers, fries and pizza, and can instill in them a profound appreciation for food, they've changed lives for the better. If a chef can make a patient's day when everything else about their hospital stay is going wrong, he or she may help that person heal just a little bit faster.

This is why we're examining the role of the chef in today's foodservice world. And we'd like you to be part of it. I would love to hear your stories of why you chose a career at a college, hospital, school ot other facility over the "glamour" of a restaurant or hotel. I'd appreciate your sharing a tale about some small way you made a difference in your institution. Email me at pking@cspnet.com with your stories.

Keywords: 
chefs

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is adding an additional $200 in dining dollars to each student's dining plan this fall, The GW Hatchet reports.

The boost comes just a year after the university switched to an open-format dining plan that allows students to spend their entire meal fund off campus; allowed venues include about 90 grocery stores and restaurants.

While students support the new plan, they are concerned about dining affordability. In conjunction with discounted meal deals that were implemented last semester, school officials hope the extra $200...

Ideas and Innovation
breakfast restaurant food

This March, past FSD of the Month Randy Lait and his team gave the FoodService Director staff a tour of the operations at North Carolina State University. During our visit, Randy shared how data is affecting their menu creation and menu mix. At the university, they’re encouraging chefs to use big data—and not just gut feelings—to inform menu decisions.

Every foodservice operator wants to offer more contemporary items in order to please their customer base and keep chefs challenged and engaged. Many chefs make those decisions based on their own tastes, or what’s exciting them at the...

Ideas and Innovation
french press

While a French press isn’t a tool found in most noncommercial kitchens, operators might want to think twice about multiple uses for this fancy coffee maker. Staff at the Hard Rock Cafe are using the French press to muddle fruit and alcohol for their mixed drinks, while at Chicago bar Moneygun, bartenders use a French press to blend spices and tea for hot toddys.

Ideas and Innovation
student food tray

Stories of students who can’t pay for lunch being given a subpar meal or shamed for their debt have proliferated in recent years, and it’s not an uncommon problem. The SNA’s 2016 School Nutrition Operations Report found that about three-quarters of school districts had an unpaid student meal debt at the end of last school year, an increase from 71% of districts reporting debt in 2014.

Government has begun to take action. In April, the USDA issued new regulations mandating that schools implement unpaid meal policies by the start of the 2017-18 school year and clarifying that schools...

FSD Resources