What’s in your kitchen?

Chefs share the trends that are driving their kitchen decisions.

Published in FSD Update

quinoa-salad

Kraft also is working kamut, spelt, millet and amaranth into his recipes.

Kennesaw’s Coltek says that his team is experimenting with kañiwa, a grain related to quinoa that has many of its cousin’s characteristics but without the saponins that make it necessary for cooks to rinse quinoa completely before using.

“We also use wheat berries and rye berries in cold salads,” he adds. “Wheat berries will take on the flavor of whatever you’re preparing and it holds really well on buffets. We use teff for polenta or salad sauces, and we use sorghum as a thickener sometimes.”

Gourmet Dining’s Fischbach says his company’s accounts are featuring a wide variety of ancient grains, including spelt, amaranth, teff, chia, freekeh, black rice and quinoa. “We will be expanding on the varieties we currently use,” he adds.

While ancient grains may be all the rage in other market sectors, school foodservice chefs are struggling with a much more basic problem: getting students to accept any kind of whole grain.

“The first thing we’re focusing on—and it’s been much more difficult than you would think—is whole-grain pasta,” says Sodexo’s Feldman. “Pasta is incredibly popular, but creating a whole-grain version that kids want to eat that can hold up during service is really challenging. Pasta has to hold for a couple of hours in a hot box before service.”

She adds that she is working with chefs at two suppliers to come up with products that will fit the bill.

Burke also says that getting crazy with grains isn’t yet a focus in Austin. “We’ve been keeping it pretty basic right now,” he notes. “We’re working on mixes right now, like wild rice with brown rice. We take a grain that’s not familiar and mix it with one that is familiar. They tend to go over better than the straight grain by itself.”

That’s not to say school chefs are backing away from broadening kids’ culinary horizons. Morse says his team is looking at grains like quinoa or brown rice, and Feldman notes that Sodexo is working on using intact whole grains like wheat berries, farro and quinoa.

Alternative proteins

With the increase in the percentage of customers who say they are vegetarian or vegan, many operators are looking at non-meat proteins as a way to satisfy these diners. At Kennesaw State, chefs “use a lot more grains and beans than any other institution I’ve been in,” Coltek says. “They are great alternative proteins. Tofu and seitan are old hat already, and some of the man-made proteins we won’t serve because they’re processed.”

Kennesaw’s culinary services also offers a vegan small plates station in its Commons dining area with fresh-made hummus and a variety of bean and grain salads.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion
Shedd Aquarium White Sox Shedd The Straw

The Chicago White Sox have partnered with the Shedd Aquarium to support their “Shedd the Straw” initiative: a plan that the groups expect to curb the use of plastic straws by about 215,000 this baseball season.

Beginning on Earth Day, April 22, drinks at all dining locations throughout the Sox’s Guaranteed Rate Field will not be automatically served with plastic straws. Guests will be provided with biodegradable straws upon request. Guaranteed Rate Field is said to be the first in Major League Baseball to ban the use of plastic straws.

“At one of Shedd Aquarium’s local...

Industry News & Opinion

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation, a philanthropic group that aims to create a more sustainable food system in New England, has announced its creation of the New England Food Vision Prize .

The foundation is inviting foodservice leaders from colleges and universities throughout New England to submit their ideas on how to create a stronger food system that will help the region produce at least half of its own food by 2060.

Qualifying ideas must be collaborative and replicable, among other requirements. The foundation hopes that by reaching out to large food purchasers, like...

Industry News & Opinion
CP building

Central Point School District in Central Point, Ore., is sprucing up its lunch program by adding more locally produced foods and scratch-made dishes, KDRV reports.

A nutritionist and chef from the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council trained school staff on 15 new recipes with the goal of upgrading the school lunch menu.

The ongoing project has been successfully implemented in other Oregon school districts over the last eight years. The trainings focus on Oregon State University Extension Food Hero recipes that meet USDA nutrition standards and incorporate locally sourced...

Industry News & Opinion

Carson City School District in Carson City, Nev., hosted its Breakfast with a Hero event this week, Carson Now reports.

Held at an elementary school, the event invited local law enforcement to serve breakfast and eat with students. Officials say the event was intended to help students connect and engage with local officers in a casual setting.

Read the full story via carsonnow.org .

Photo by Dan Davis at Carson City School District

FSD Resources