What’s in your kitchen?

Chefs share the trends that are driving their kitchen decisions.

Published in FSD Update

quinoa-salad

Pork may have a place on menus in all market sectors, chefs say. For example, Joe Kraft, corporate executive chef for Morrison, says he’s incorporating pork flat iron into menus. Austin’s Burke has begun using a diced pork product.

“We’ve done a lot of work with that,” he says. “We make carnitas and a green chile pork that we serve over rice.”

When it comes to more exotic meats, colleges again lead the adventurous way.

“Primal butchering, using all parts of the animal, is growing,” says Kennesaw State’s Coltek. “We also do a lot of game meat like kangaroo and emu. They go over very well. We also serve wild boar and caribou. Once students taste it, they open their minds a bit on what to eat.”

Gourmet Dining’s Fischbach says pork belly, goat, rabbit and squab are becoming more popular, as are eggs from duck, quail and emu. Some of the items Fischbach has experimented with include curried goat with lemon-parsley quinoa and an apricot-curry glazed grilled pork belly steak over orange-fennel slaw.

Shawn Dolan, executive chef at UNC Healthcare, in Durham, N.C., believes goat “is poised to become an in thing. It does have a strong smell and flavor, so selecting a seasoning is key,” Dolan says. “The best preparation of goat that I had was in Jamaica. It was jerked. The flavor was fantastic.”

But branching out into less mainstream meats does present some hurdles, Fischbach notes.

“The biggest challenge with any trend is keeping costs in line,” he says. “Trendy items tend to be more costly because they are trendy and in demand. The second biggest issue is training employees how to work with new and trendy items to ensure they are cooked properly and made consistently.”

Grains

Have Americans become quinoa’ed out? Although UNC Healthcare’s Dolan suggests that may be the case—“you know it’s over when you’re watching football and a commercial comes on that spoofs the product”—he also notes that quinoa’s brethren may be coming into their own.

“With the anti-gluten movement that is currently underway, ancient grains are the hot trend,” he says. “I like spelt, farro and amaranth. We have a rotation of ancient grain salads that we sell in our retail venues and they sell very well.”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

FSD Resources