Confessions of Neal Lavender

Neal Lavender, director of food and nutrition services at Florida Hospital Orlando, loves Costco, hates food trucks and wishes he could have been in attendance to hear Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech.

Q. What is the best part of your job?

Working with my foodservice team at Florida Hospital. They are a true pleasure, and I appreciate their work.

Q. What is the worst part of your job?

Too much paperwork, which keeps me tied to the office and gives me less time with my employees.

Q. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Being a terrific father and husband. I have a great family life and weekends are always an adventure with them!

Q. What is the most unusual foodservice/catering request you have ever received?

To start a wild game menu in the doctor’s lounge at a hospital in Houston. We had elk as a menu item. I do not recommend it as it is a really bloody meat. Still, the doctors loved it.

Q. If you had a time machine what historical event or era would you visit?

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Q. Which talent would you most like to have?

A pilot’s license. My father was a pilot and really enjoyed it. I took lessons years ago but did not have the time or money to get the license.

Q. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

More hair. Tough to be in sunny Florida with thinning hair.

Q. What would be your dream vacation?

Trekking across the Himalayan Mountains.

Q. What is your favorite meal?

The Peacemaker Po-Boy sandwich with a Voodoo beer at Mahony’s in New Orleans.

Q. What is your "guilty pleasure?"

Visiting Costco on payday.

Q. What is your most treasured possession?

My four-burner Brinkman gas grill. This thing can rock some food for any social gathering!

Q. What food fad do you wish had never started?

Food trucks. Not appealing, and I question the sanitation methods for cooking foods and washing hands.

Q. What activity is at the top of your bucket list?

Spending New Year’s Eve in New York and watching the ball drop at midnight.

Q. What are your words to live by?

Have a purpose-driven life. Find that purpose and ensure that you are giving back to those less fortunate.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Italian food hall chain Eataly is making plans for a 2018 initial public offering in its home country, according to a report this week in Financial Times.

The company plans to list shares on the Italian stock exchange in Milan “as early as next year,” Eataly Executive Chairman Andrea Guerra told Financial Times .

Eataly is eager to expand the presence of its massive Italian food emporiums in the U.S., which have helped spur the growing food hall trend . The company has five locations here, with two in New York City and one each in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. Financial...

Industry News & Opinion

Students staffing the foodservice department at Rutgers University will soon get an hourly pay bump, as the New Brunswick, N.J., university is raising its wage for student workers to $11 an hour, philly.com reports.

The increase will go in effect Jan. 1 and will impact 13,000 students.

The fight to raise wages at the school was spearheaded by student group United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), which is continuing to push the university to increase student wages to $15.

The fight for a $15 wage for student workers has spread at schools throughout the country,...

Industry News & Opinion

After shutting down 265 schools due to ongoing wildfires, the Los Angeles Unified School District kept three schools open on Friday and Saturday to provide meals for students and their families, the Los Angeles Times reports.

At one of the schools, employees and volunteers handed out around 100 meals on Friday and 270 meals on Saturday. The meals included items such as dragonfruit punch, raisins, bananas, sunflower kernels, whole-grain cinnamon graham crackers, sunflower seed butter and fat-free chocolate milk.

Around 80% of students in the district come from low-income...

Sponsored Content
Breakfast chili

From Bush’s Best®.

While decadent plates of French toast and pancakes stacked high will always be breakfast favorites, it’s undeniable that savory breakfast items are on the rise in many foodservice operations. Menu items such as avocado toast and omelets aren’t new, of course, but consumers’ preferences for better-for-you food choices, along with their desire for global flavors, are driving this trend.

According to a recent Technomic Breakfast report, consumer demand for vegetarian ingredients has led to an increase of ingredients like soy, tofu, beans, lentils, seeds,...

FSD Resources