MenuDirections’ cooking "show"

At MenuDirections 2014, chefs reveal character and creativity at our unique culinary competition.

The teams were given 75 minutes to prepare six portions of an entrée, which they would then present to five judges: Annemarie Vaupel from Hormel, Erik Henry from Bush’s, Chef Andrew Hunter from Kikkoman, Chef Peter Fischbach from Gourmet Dining LLC and a member of our advisory board, and Darrick Henry from Baylor Orthopaedic Hospital, one of the winners of last year’s culinary competition.

We kicked off the competition at about 3:25 Monday afternoon, with Joe Kraft and Robert Winther drawing the first time slot. The other three teams started at 10-minute intervals. After all four teams were on the clock, conference attendees were encouraged by our MC, Stephen Gericke from the National Pork Board, to take a close-up view of the competitors as they worked and even to ask questions about what they were preparing.

It was an interesting dynamic early on, as Gericke walked around and “interviewed” the sponsors about their products and the chefs about the dishes they were creating. People milled about, some watching the event but most chatting amongst themselves.

The atmosphere in the room changed dramatically, almost precipitously, as the first team neared the T-minus 20-minute mark. People drifted toward the tables and the energy level ratcheted up several notches. Our MC took a break, letting the action speak for itself—and it did. We were keeping a watch on time, but even without the stopwatch you could tell as the chefs neared the completion of their dish.

Finally, it was “time’s up!” and Joe and Robert brought their plates before the judges. As they presented their dish, the crowd moved over to the second team, now with only 10 minutes to go. And so it went for another half hour, the excitement building as each team’s efforts were seen by the crowd and reviewed by the judges.

With less than 10 minutes to go for the final team, Darla and Melissa, disaster nearly struck. One of the induction burners apparently shorted out, leaving the team one burner short at a critical time, as both of their burners were needed. It was fortuitous that they were last, and we quickly moved Melissa to a now-empty station to complete her cooking task. To be fair, we added a couple of minutes onto their time to make up for the time lost in the shift.

And then, it was over. Darla and Melissa completed their presentation to the judges, who then retired to discuss what they had seen and fill out their ballots. The teams now had three hours to wait before the winner was announced, during the Awards Banquet that evening.

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