Desserts: Filled with variety

Crêpe’s versatility makes for a customer-favorite sweet treat.

Published in FSD Update

Looking for a lucrative menu addition that thrives on variety? Consider crêpes, thin French pancakes that flourish with a range of fillings. Robert Landolphi, manager of culinary development at the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, offers nearly a dozen varieties, like Southwestern chicken, cordon bleu, Italian s’mores, and cinnamon, sugar and bananas. UConn offers crêpes for lunch, dinner, dessert and even snacks. “Crêpes are fun to eat, our customers rave about the selections and they’re very profitable,” Landolphi says.

Richard Curtis, director of food and nutrition at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, in Louisiana, uses crêpes as a lighter option to keep with the hospital’s health and wellness initiatives. Curtis offers a variety of fruit and yogurt crêpes, sometimes for breakfast, alongside savory crêpes filled with items like crabmeat and shrimp. “Crêpes are easy to work with due to their size and texture,” Curtis says.

Crêpes are also simple to make. Mark Moser, nutritional services manager at UVA-HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, in Charlottesville, Va., has come up with an all-purpose recipe that “can be used for everything from entrées to desserts, plus they’re pliable, stack well, don’t tear easily, can be cut very easily with a fork and hold up well for later same-day filling.” His secret: more egg makes the crêpe fuller bodied and pliable, rather than paper thin and rigid.

Prepping points

To keep up with demand and minimize wait time, Landolphi makes his crêpes in advance, filling and heating them to order. But some operators recommend using only fresh crêpes. “Crêpes are much like pasta: There are a thousand different ways to go and they’re best used the same day,” says Moser, who admittedly makes crêpes in advance for high-volume orders. “Certainly, crêpes can be made and even frozen, but I think there is too much lost in texture and taste.”

If you go the fresh route, batter consistency and temperature are paramount, Curtis says. “The range or griddle must be level, and the batter should be at room temperature.” Experiment until you find the sweet spot and train your staff well. When filling the crêpes, size is important. “Ingredients should be cut small; be careful not to overfill the crêpe or it will break,” Landolphi adds.

It can be tempting to set up self-service crêpe stations, but operators agree it’s not a great idea. “Due to the delicate nature of a crêpe, we prepare and serve crêpes to our guests ourselves,” Curtis says.

Similarly Landolphi’s staff handles all prep and cooking, filling crêpes to order in front of customers at an action station. “They love watching us fill the crêpes with fresh, local ingredients, fold them up into a pocket and drizzle or sprinkle different toppings over the top. It makes them feel like their personal French chef just prepared them a special treat.”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
cafeteria

Three years ago, Colonial School District in New Castle, Del., started a pilot supper program at its high school. The goal: To make sure the district’s students, 57% of whom are on free or reduced-priced meals, would not be hungry when school is done for the day.

Since its inception, the program has expanded to 12 schools and now provides afterschool meals to children participating in YMCA activities. And it's just one of many such programs popping up in districts throughout the country, as operators add supper to the list of daily meals they provide for students.

Building...
Ideas and Innovation
hydroponics

We put our hydroponic gardens in a spot where students can watch them grow, but at the same time it’s safe from being tampered with. At one of our elementary schools, the gardens are in the kitchen, but there’s a window where students can look in as they walk down the hallway. Some even stop to count how many cucumbers they see.

Ideas and Innovation
food snap

We started a 50-member vegan team in response to students expressing the need for more vegan options. Between our monthly meetings, students are asked to take photos of foods they eat in and out of the dining halls to give us a true picture of the kinds of things they like and the kinds of foods that cause disappointment. This exercise has sparked a lot of conversation and given us more insight into what we could do better.

Ideas and Innovation
hybrid worker

Some of our employees can work four 10-hour days. It’s really helped with balance. We’ve also created a lot of hybrid positions, such as a personal services assistant and foodservice worker role. It allows workers to pick up more shifts and cover both positions.

FSD Resources