While planning for the NCAA March Madness tournament is looming large for college FSDs and their basketball-fan diners, many of the year’s biggest dining events are still to come for noncommercial operators. We asked members of FoodService Director's Chefs' Council to talk about their most-attended dining days of the year, and what they do to make them special.
Make the event special for your team, too
At large events like the Presbyterian Association of Homes and Services for the Aging Conference, John Andrews, division director of culinary and nutrition services for Ohio Living, asks chefs from various communities across the senior living network to come together. “We'll have a service and decor team, reception team, appetizer team, hot food team, cold food team, dessert team and more,” he says. “Each team will develop their menu, and we meet to pull it all together.”
Combining the talents from all of its communities helps bring the Ohio Living team closer and takes some of the work load away from the host community, he adds. The PAHSA Conference included a brunch, reception, five-course dinner and dessert.
Turn DIY into a themed experience
At Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the Super Bowl was indeed a major dining event. Drew Patterson, culinary director, put a healthy DIY spin on the day by offering a Super Food Bowl.
Diners started with a base of quinoa or spring mix, then added proteins like chicken, tofu or garbanzo beans and topped their creations with add-ons like candied walnuts, feta, sweet potatoes and a choice of dressing. To avoid being too healthy, a dark chocolate brownie cupcake was included for dessert, he says.
Look to local flavors
Bill Brizzolara, campus executive chef at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, says the school’s best-received event of the year is the All Carolinas Meal, a special outdoor event typically held early in the fall semester.
Local pork is smoked onsite, and the dining services team makes its own jams, butters and more from products found only in the Carolinas for the meal, he says. “We use crops from are campus farm mainly, and then source out local ingredients,” he says. If possible, Brizzolara’s team also tries to tie in products from NC State alumni who are in the food production business.