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menu directions 2017

We’ve all heard the adage about the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The only remedy, as people who run any kind of successful operation know, is being voracious about seeking out new ideas and surprising solutions to everyday challenges.

That’s what we had in mind when creating the agenda for our upcoming MenuDirections conference (Feb. 26-28, 2017, in Charlotte, N.C.). The general sessions, workshops and breakouts are responding to what we’re hearing from you on our travels to conferences and visits to your facilities—a need to learn new ways of innovating menus and improving your operations so that you can do more with less.

So the agenda for this year’s MenuDirections aims even higher. We’ve made the investment to bring big-time speakers and new perspectives to the stage. There’s Sam Kass, the former White House chef and executive director of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative—who helped launch the first major vegetable garden at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden. And you’ll learn best practices for leveraging social media as a marketing and recruiting tool from Joshua Swanson, a digital marketing consultant who’s worked with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, the iconic multiconcept restaurant operation in Chicago.

The true beauty of the MenuDirections conference has always been that it brings together all segments of noncommercial to learn from one another. Yet, we know from talking to you that there are unique and specific issues facing every segment. So, for the first time, we are giving each noncommercial association its own dedicated workshop at MenuDirections. For example, the Association for Healthcare Foodservice will host a workshop for hospital operators, and the Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals will discuss the latest in senior living and CDM certification. As I write this, we’re also finalizing the details on sessions by the National Association of College and University Food Services and the Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management.

At the same time, MenuDirections remains focused on the menu. You’ll still find the culinary events you expect and enjoy, including our culinary competition and dine-around tour of local restaurants. And as before, through our 15 educational workshops—covering topics from catering to renovations to revamping sauces—attendees can earn between 10 and 13 continuing education units.

Overall, we’re casting a wider net, offering business-building ideas that you can take back to your operations and implement immediately. We’ve challenged ourselves to do the same thing you’re doing: come up with more ideas in order to yield greater results, with the goal of giving you an even better return on your investment.  

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The employees will host an auction this week at Glenwood Junior High School in Boardman, Ohio. Money raised from the event will go to help nutrition staff at schools in Paradise. The items listed in the auction will be donated by local community members.

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