Jim McGrody: Patient Focused

Retail operations: McGrody’s dedication to patient foodservice has carried over into retail. The heart-healthy menu was brought into the cafe- terias, a move that helped Rex become the first hospital in Wake County to be designated with the Red Apple status from NC Prevention Partners, a nonprofit that promotes healthier lifestyles. The Red Apple status designates that the hospital has a healthy food environment. Retail sales have increased 36%. “The contractor used a lot of canned and frozen vegetables,” McGrody says. “We use fresh vegetables.” Most produce is delivered daily from the state’s farmers’ market, and the hospital offers a daily farmers’ market of its own.

In addition to using fresh items, the retail menu changed significantly. “The contractor was doing basic foods you would picture in a hospital cafeteria,” McGrody says. “We have salmon and rib eyes. We got people excited about food again. The check average when we took over was around $3.40. Now we’re around $4.90.” One way McGrody got customers
excited about the cafeteria food was through in-house branded concepts, many of which he created while he was associate director at the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill. Rex is a part of the UNC Healthcare system.

“The thing that is unique about Jim is that you don’t have to tell him what to do,” says Angelo Mojica, director of food and nutrition services for UNC Hospitals. “I joke sometimes that he’s a diva. He’s so passionate about food.”

Jim-McGrody, FSD of the Month, May 2010, Rex Healthcare, patient service

When Mojica wanted to develop branded concepts at UNC, he turned to McGrody. “I took him to a Chipotle and said, ‘I want something like this.’ Two days later he came to me with the whole plan, down to the kind of peppers he wanted to use.”

That concept was Bandaleros. “This was created as an answer to the typical ground beef tacos that you find in most hospital settings,” McGrody says. Bandaleros offers beef machaca, pork carnitas, flan and made-to-order sopapillas, along with housemade pico de gallo, salsas and jasmine rice.

Other branded concepts McGrody developed include Continental Traders, the traditional hot line with items such as braised ox tail, blackened mahi mahi and turkey mole; Fast Breaks, which offers grab-and-go items; Cosimo’s, a pizza and pasta location; and Chefs in Motion, a daily display cooking station that accounts for 11% of café sales.

Promotions have also created buzz. One of the most successful was 20 Days Around the World, during which authentic food from a different country was served each day. “We went to Jamaica, Australia and all through Africa and Asia,” McGrody says. “We did a lot of research and went to local markets to get authentic ingredients. When we went to Australia we did a Jolly Jumbuck in a Tuckerbag, which is ground lamb wrapped in a puff pastry and served with a creamy onion gravy. When we were in Mexico we did not do tacos and fajitas.”

For the promotion, customers were given a passport and when they ate food from that day’s country, they received a stamp. If a customer ate all 20 days, he or she could turn in the stamped passport for a prize.

Training: With all the menu changes, McGrody knew he needed to train his staff, so he started the Black Hat Training program. “We are touting restaurant-quality food and many ofour cooks have never worked in restaurants,” McGrody says.

Black Hat Training is a four-tiered program during which cooks learn skills such as knife techniques and how to make veal stocks to food costing and placing orders. So far eight chefs have been through the program. McGrody says all cooks will go through the program. “Our training is vastly different in that they are taken out of the job and they go to ‘school’ for four weeks,” McGrody says. “You can take someone who has been cooking wrong for many years and he doesn’t buy in to the whole thing, and when he comes out he is a different employee.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Menu Development
salad chicken

Vegetables and grains have stepped into the spotlight, thanks to the “flipping the plate” trend, but protein is still an important part of a balanced diet. Sources including meat, cheese, nuts, and meat alternatives such as tofu and tempeh can and should still be on the plate—albeit as a side dish or topping rather than the main event.

“Whatever we do [as FSDs] needs to be rooted in the culture, and today’s culture is all about healthy eating and plant-focused meals,” says Chris Studtmann, executive chef at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “A recipe is an idea; culture is...

Menu Development
jackfruit

It emerged as a top food trend on Pinterest’s 2017 predictions, is “the latest miracle food” according to Epicurious, and was called “a nutritional bonanza” by NPR. Jackfruit is the latest superfood garnering buzz, and Even Stevens Sandwiches has gone after the vegetarian-friendly option for a recently launched torta. Here, Culinary Director Brandon Price shares three lessons learned from adding jackfruit to the menu.

Finding the best form

Using fresh jackfruit wasn’t the answer for the chain. It has to be sourced internationally, and breaking it down cuts into labor costs. But...

Ideas and Innovation
hibachi grill cooking

We saw in 2016 that many operators were trying to have some type of display cooking in their food operation. We installed a hibachi grill this fall, and within three months we had 300 residents and guests make reservations. We also use our hibachi grill for cooking classes twice a month, where our hibachi chef Abby Kramer does an excellent job teaching different cuisines. We have received so many compliments that we have decided to get another hibachi grill for a different dining venue in 2017.

FSD Resources