(From left to right) Bertrand Weber, Minneapolis Public Schools, and Mary Martinez and Cynthia Baron, from Northside Independent School District, work on a recipe they created. Participants were broken up into small groups and paired with members from other districts to create new menu items, especially those items that meet the new meal regs. Ainsworth says the attendees’ first crack at menu presentation needed a bit of work. For example, one dish had a cabbage leaf under the dish, which Ainsworth says is a nonfunctional garnish. He also taught the operators to plate dishes in odd numbers of components and to use asymmetrical positioning to create more visual appeal.
“Presentation is a big deal. Sometimes I don’t think they think that,” Ainsworth says. “I think their eyes were opened up about going back to their operations and looking at their lines to see how they present everything from salad bars to drinks.”