What’s in your kitchen?

Chefs share the trends that are driving their kitchen decisions.

Published in FSD Update

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Meats

Leaner is better, say chefs in all market segments, so expect red meat to take a back seat to a variety of other animal proteins—everything from poultry and fish to goat and game meats.

“I think we’ll see some increase in lesser known, not as mainstream cuts of meat,” says Penn State’s Kowalski. “We’ll also see much more chicken and other poultry. We’ve been using ground turkey in different ways, such as turkey meatloaf with chipotle ketchup, a turkey banh mi and turkey meatballs. We’re always looking for new ways to use chicken.”

In school foodservice, chopped is not where it’s at these days. Instead, operators are looking at whole-muscle cuts of proteins like chicken and turkey.

“We haven’t used chopped and processed in years,” says Douglas County’s Morse. “We are looking for clean label, whole muscle, things like chicken tenderloins, unbreaded and skinless.”

Sodexo is also getting into the whole-muscle game. “One of the things we’ve spent a lot of time working on in the last couple of months is a turkey thigh that’s slow-cooked,” Feldman says. “We’re looking to do more global flavors with it.

We’re also taking taco meat and turning it into carnitas [and] taking diced chicken and making a flavorful barbecue sauce and doing a chicken sandwich.”

Fish will be appearing on more healthcare menus, chefs suggest. At Geisinger, fish is being offered at least twice a week, even as the frequency of red meat is reduced.

The same is true at Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University, in Columbus. “With fish I think we will see more sustainable farm-raised fish such as swai and other varieties of flaky, white, neutral-flavored fish,” says Culinary Director Drew Patterson. “We are developing our menu to offer fish two times per week.”

Patterson adds that blended ground meats will also help hospitals offer more healthful dishes. “We use a turkey/beef blend that comes in at 90% lean, but it has a lot of great flavor and moisture because we use dark turkey meat. I think there are a lot of options for burgers, sausages, etc., if we get creative.”

Schools historically have not made much use of fish, but Sodexo’s Feldman says she would like to change that.

“Fish is a giant focus for us,” she explains. “We’ve been working with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers to create a managers guide for creative ways to use fish. Pollock is really the only thing that’s readily available and affordable.”

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