Going Small is Big

In both commercial and non-commercial operations, customers prefer to share.

Small plates and snacks are major attention-getters on menus these days. More and more customers prefer to share several distinctively flavored smaller items with their companions rather than confine themselves to a single large entrée.

University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.

University of Missouri students enjoy zesty tacos, burritos and quesadillas at the Baja Grill and lively Southeast Asian fare, including banh mi sandwiches, satays and rice bowls, at Sabai.

However, inquisitive palates should stay tuned, because more culinary excitement is ahead, reports Eric Cartwright, executive chef of Campus Dining Services at the university, which has an enrollment of more than 33,000. He returned from the Almond Board of California’s chef retreat at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley with a collection of new menu ideas for using almonds in distinctive small plates and snacks.

At the retreat, Cartwright created a unique small plate of almond-bacon “chips” based on squares of bacon cooked flat between two pans. He topped the chips with fresh goat cheese whipped with almond milk and a fresh salad of diced mango dressed with orange juice, fresh chives and honey. He crowned each chip with a sweet-and-spicy fried almond made by boiling whole blanched almonds, tossing them in powdered sugar and deep frying them until golden brown and crunchy, then finally seasoning them with salt, paprika and cayenne pepper.

“They have an interesting combination of flavors, with the sweet crunch and a little heat,” says Cartwright, who is planning to serve the almond-bacon chips as hors d’oeuvres at a campus event.

“While almonds are flavorful, they will enhance but not overtake a dish,” says Cartwright. “You can make them the star or a supporting ingredient. That versatility, I think, is pretty great.”

University of Missouri Menu Sampler

Spicy Noodle Bowl: choice of beef, chicken, pork or tofu with rice noodles, bean sprouts, onions and carrots in a spicy broth $5.95
Banh Mi: slow-braised pork shoulder (regular or spicy), daikon slaw and hot chile mayo on a sub roll $5.10
Quesadilla con Estilo: a crisp flour tortilla and melted Monterey Jack cheese with either grilled chicken, beef, pork or beans and corn salsa $3.80  

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
business card

We get the new folks abridged business cards saying, “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work in nutrition department.” We thought it would give them more ownership of the program and elevate their status and position in the organization. It also gives our team more self-confidence and self-worth as an employee, which can be a challenge with foodservice workers.

Ideas and Innovation
usc asian remodel

With a prime location in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s foodie capitols, the University of Southern California has plenty of dining competition. So when Kris Klinger, assistant vice president of retail operations, discovered that students were heading off campus for sushi and noodle bowls, he knew it was time to take action. The construction of Fertitta Hall, part of the university’s Marshall School of Business, provided the opportunity.

Klinger and Gary Marschall, associate director of USC auxiliary services in hospitality, shared photos of both the new Fertitta Cafe and a...

Ideas and Innovation
sandwich sub

At our corporate operation in the Kohl’s headquarters, two kinds of sandwiches are available daily—an artisan version and a more straightforward sub. While planning out a business model for the space, Kohl’s wanted something that was quality driven, but very sensitive to pricing for associates. Diners are comfortable spending about $6 to $7 for lunch.

Managing Your Business
briggo coffee haus kiosk

Though diners’ appetites for coffee are seemingly bottomless, adding a full-service coffee shop to every corner of a facility probably isn’t in the playbook. Here’s a look at how two operators added coffee service with relatively small footprints—with one decidedly futuristic (robot barista, anyone?), and the other low-tech but nimble.

Specialty coffee vending at Dell

Dell has a full-service Starbucks on its Red Rock, Texas, campus, but the location isn’t always convenient for a quick coffee pickup. “Certain times, you go into the bistro, like 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., there’s quite a long...

FSD Resources