December’s FoodService Director is a little different, to say the least. As I told Editorial Director Kelly Killian when we started planning this issue, “Let’s blow the whole thing up.” Unfortunately, neither my freelance budget nor our liability insurance covers explosives. (I’m working on getting that changed for 2018.)
All kidding aside, the FSD team has eschewed our typical sections in favor of a hyperfocused theme for this special State of the Industry issue. Why? Because we wanted to draw attention to three big questions: What are the states of the menu, operations and the workforce, respectively, going into 2018? It’s not just any issue, and we didn’t want it to look like one.
I’m a big believer in outside-the-box thinking and empowering employees to make a lot of their own decisions. So when I assigned stories for this issue, I didn’t include a word count—I didn’t want writers to limit their creativity. “Write it as long as it needs to be,” I told them. In some cases “as long as it needs to be” was much longer than we had space for in print, but fortunately, the internet is limitless! You’ll find the full versions of those stories at FoodServiceDirector.com.
While editors aren’t really supposed to pick favorites, one story that I especially loved in this issue hit the “blowing everything up” mindset on the head. FSDs in a variety of segments were presented with the following question: If you could start over from scratch, on the same budget, how would you solve your operation’s labor problems? Ideas varied from holding an audition for employees rather than interviewing them to hosting public cooking classes. While we didn’t put any limitations on their answers, the operators tended to focus on ideas that were actually feasible, instead of, say, the meal-replacement gum Violet Beauregarde chews in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” (It’s probably a good thing no one interviewed me for this story.)
Come January, FoodService Director will turn back into the magazine you know and (hopefully) love, with one change. Stories from the Footprint section are moving to Operations, in order to create a new section: Workforce. It became apparent to us in the past year that HR and labor-related stories are so integral to the industry that they deserved their own area of the magazine.
So while we’re not blowing things up entirely, a few controlled explosions now and then can be a good thing.