Chefs’ Council shares on-trend takeaways

chef cooking

Leaving their kitchens behind for a few days, 10 FSD Chefs’ Council members immersed themselves in a culinary conference hosted by FoodService Director and the University of Michigan dining services last fall. Representing a wide swath of segments—K-12, C&U, B&I and healthcare—the chefs participated in hands-on kitchen workshops, field trips, trends presentations, networking events and dining experiences on and off campus. What they came away with was a wealth of ideas to put into action at their operations—and a renewed passion for their professions. Here are their top takeaways from the Chefs’ Council Summit. 

1. Sourcing local on a large scale

local produce

Sourcing more local products is a goal of many noncommercial operators, but short growing seasons, supply chain logistics and other challenges make the goal difficult to achieve. Chefs’ Council Summit attendees learned about several initiatives that are making this happen. The University of Michigan, for example, works directly with a Dearborn, Mich., meat supplier, sources apple seconds from a local grower and contracts with a local dairy co-op of 100 farmers. Although coffee is not grown in Michigan, the college sources beans from a local roaster. 

A visit to an urban farm in Detroit revealed that it’s possible to plant enough crops on a 4-acre abandoned city lot to create a supply chain to local restaurants. And a tour of Detroit’s Eastern Market, which houses incubator kitchens for food business startups, showcased products such as spiced roasted lentils that are ending up in local foodservice operations. “I found it to be entertaining, informative and outright inspiring to see what University of Michigan, Eastern Market and the urban farm are doing to support the local community,” said Rocky Dunnam, chef at Elizabeth Jane Bivins Culinary Center in Texas. “It’s refreshing to see an environmentally responsible approach take real-world application on such a large scale.”

2. Meeting the challenge of healthier menus

healthy food

Matthew Cervay, system executive chef for Geisinger Health Systems, is on a mission to amplify health and wellness. Hearing from other chefs who are on the same mission made him realize that many are going through similar growing pains. “Most of my health system is located in central and eastern Pennsylvania, where meat and potatoes are the best menu sellers,” he said. “I often wondered over the past year if I am ahead of the curve with reducing traditional proteins, introducing grains and working different flavor profiles into vegetables not typically seen here. Sharing the struggles and successes with other operators has really reaffirmed in me that this is no longer a fad but the direction the culinary landscape is moving in America.”

Roy Sullivan, executive chef at University of California San Francisco Health, also shared a wellness-related takeaway. “It’s up to us chefs to do our part to contribute to healthy eating,” he said. “I appreciated how Michigan Dining incorporated fresh vegetables/greens as an option for breakfast. I am now in the process of adding sauteed greens to our breakfast menu.”

3. Cultivating talent

talented chef

Frank Turchan, executive chef for Michigan Dining, discussed the importance of his role as a leader as well as a chef. This impressed Tracey MacRae, campus executive chef at University of Washington in Seattle, who said “his drive to support a higher culinary knowledge in his staff is not only admirable, but also sustainable. Nurturing and promoting talent from within supports culinary growth and produces prideful employees who come to work to make great food.”

Others were moved by Eastern Market’s incubator kitchens, which give budding entrepreneurs the space and support to create, produce and launch food products. “The fostering of someone’s dream and empowering people to succeed is life changing,” said Stephanie Dyehouse, assistant food service supervisor of culinary development for Cincinnati Public Schools. 

4. The power of networking


When chefs get together, the camaraderie is contagious. “Meeting and interacting with the other chefs renewed my outlook on the foodservice business,” said Jeff Muldrow, executive chef at The Mather senior living facility. “So many different lines of business were represented—K-12, higher education, healthcare—a very amazing and talented group of people. I learned many things from the other chefs.”

Iraj Fernando, executive chef for Southern Foodservice Management, agreed: “Us chefs, we care for each other, help each other and share the same dreams.” 

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has appointed Cathy Desquesses as its chief people officer, the company announced on Friday.

Before joining Sodexo, Desquesses held multiple leadership roles in the human resources department at General Electric, where she worked for 20 years. Most recently, she was the global HR leader for GE Power Gas.

Desquesses will begin her new role on July 1 and will report to Sodexo CEO Denis Machuel. She will replace Juan Pablo Urruticoechea, who is moving into a new position at Sodexo.

Photo courtesy of Sodexo

Managing Your Business
woman in the kitchen alone

The #MeToo movement has turned sexual harassment into the top labor-related regulatory issue for all employers, triggering action from three out of four companies, according to a new survey on workforce concerns.

About two-thirds (66%) of employers rank the issue among their top two employment-related legal worries, even without a change in the pertinent laws and regulations, the canvass found.

What has changed, concluded surveyor Littler Mendelson, one of the nation’s largest labor-focused legal firms, are employee expectations and the social climate.

“No company...

Managing Your Business
Starbucks college campus

Noncommercial dining centers are often filled with their own Starbucks, Burger Kings, Panera Breads and dozens of other nationally recognized brands. Branded concepts, whether corporate brands or self-operated, offer diners familiar names, menu items, and a sense of place. This translates into more money spent and more diner loyalty for foodservice operators.

However, the success of branded concepts vary greatly. There can be significantly different results depending on whether noncommercial operators decide to franchise, lease or develop their own branded concepts. There’s no one-...

Menu Development
pizza oven

Wood-fired ovens take the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to pizza-cooking preference for consumers. Just fewer than half (45%) of consumers say they prefer a pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven compared to other oven cooking methods. Here are the styles of ovens pizza consumers prefer most.

Wood-fired oven 45% Gas oven 13% Electric oven 11% Grilled 4% Coal oven 4% No preference 23%

Source: Technomic 2018 Pizza Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code