Kiss the Cook

Published in FSD Update

FSD is on the hunt for the most influential executive chefs in the industry.

At this year’s National Restaurant Show in Chicago I had the good fortune to meet James Beard and “Top Chef” winner Stephanie Izard at her new venture, Little Goat. I was there as part of a group of foodservice operators for the Taste the Trends Tour. Before the tour I had hoped we would get the chance to get a brief “hello” from Izard, so I was pleasantly surprised when we walked up to the second story into the restaurant’s private dining space and balcony to see Izard preparing the Sloppy Goat sandwiches that we would be dining on that afternoon. Not only did Izard prepare our food for us, she hung around signing copies of her book, taking photos and talking food with the tour’s attendees.

I had watched Izard’s season of “Top Chef” and was more than a little excited to meet her. It was a wonderful experience to meet a young, female chef who is having such a substantial effect on the industry. Izard isn’t the first chef I’ve had the pleasure of meeting who fits the young, female, making a difference description.

A few years back I had the opportunity to shadow Pnina Peled, executive chef at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. You can always tell when a person is passionate about his/her work. Peled radiates that passion. We met in her cozy office and she talked food with me for a while. Peled’s food knowledge is, of course, outstanding, but it’s her patient interactions that were really impressive. We had not taken but a few steps onto the pediatric floor before a patient came up and threw her arms around Peled, which I found out was not an uncommon reaction to the chef’s presence on a patient floor.

For the next few hours I watched as Peled checked in on her patients—one of which was a young boy. This child had been coming to the hospital for years to receive treatment, both on an in-patient and out-patient basis. The boy and his parents spent an hour talking with me about the impact Peled has had on their son’s treatments. Like many cancer patients, this child had a difficult time eating—or having the desire to eat. Peled, upon learning of his discomfort, made a personal visit and asked him what he liked to eat. She then went to the kitchen to make it for him personally.

The fact that Peled had such a personal connection with this—and many other patients—was a truly inspiring experience for me. That’s why we at FoodService Director wanted to honor those executive chefs who are making a difference in their operations and the non-commercial industry as a whole.

So we’re asking you to nominate the chefs in your operation or in a co-worker’s facility who you think are deserving of the most influential honor. Send us a brief description of the chef and his/her impact on the non-commercial industry. We’ll pick the most deserving from the bank of nominations and feature those chefs on our website. The deadline for submissions is July 31.  


More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
woman surprise

When I joined the staff at FoodService Director in the spring of 2015, I couldn’t believe how much there was to learn about the intricacies of the industry. My past experience, from kindergarten to my college days to on-the-job meals, would lead me to believe that noncommercial dining was a kind of automated process—an amenity that’s expected, and one you only become aware of if something goes wrong.

But as with my own household chores, there are no magical elves making sure the business of feeding students, seniors and hospital patients is done, and done well. Foodservice...

Managing Your Business
hands team

In November, students at University of Missouri in Columbia began leading protests against discrimination faced by people of color on campus—including some marches through the dining halls. Julaine Kiehn, director of the school’s campus dining services, said the 2015-16 school year was a tough one, but she was proud of MU’s students for being at the forefront of a national movement.

And not only did the protests launch important conversations with students, but also with staff. Kiehn heard the protests and thought that her student workers, at least, might not feel safe and welcome...

Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to sustainability, sometimes the smallest kitchen changes can make the biggest difference. When Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, switched from standard latex gloves to nitrile gloves, he also set up a recycling program. Once recycled, the gloves are turned into playground equipment, bike racks and park benches.

Henning says the nitrile gloves have been a good fit for his department, both in terms of durability and cost. “Participating in the campus buying program reduces the cost, as [our]...

Ideas and Innovation
elderly old hands

A family’s request for at-home meal support for a patient at Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, Fla., led System Director of Food & Nutrition Services Larry Altier to uncover a gap in care. He saw that only 1% of patients had been coded (diagnosed and labeled for billing purposes) as malnourished, while more than 60% of all Lee Memorial patients are over 65 years or older, a population that experiences the issue at a higher rate.

His discovery helped more rigorously identify malnutrition, but it also strengthened Lee Memorial’s community connection. The hospital launched a delivery...

FSD Resources