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Agents of change

We are in an age of disruption. Everything is different. I can’t think of anything we do now that could be considered “business as usual.”
Operators today must wrestle with how to meet consumers’ expectations, even as their own internal expectations rise at the same time. And there’s so much information—both good and “fake”—coming at us so quickly. How do you handle it all?

That’s what I love about our annual MenuDirections conference, taking place next month in New Orleans. The speakers we’ve assembled sort through all of the confusion and shine a spotlight on the information and trends that will actually matter to your operation.

More and more these days, data helps operators prioritize. That’s why research and data are key components of the content at this year’s conference. With our colleagues at Technomic, we’ll present research on the state of the foodservice industry in 2018, on what consumers say drives their dining choices, and on the ingredients and flavors that are emerging on menus in noncommercial operations and restaurants.

Real-world experience is just as important as data, and so we have created sessions that address the issues that are top of mind in every operation, across all segments. Zia Ahmed, senior director of dining services at Ohio State University, will lead a discussion about integrating tech into your operation in a smart way. Lisa Eberhart, Randy Lait and chef Adam Smith from NC State will together share best practices for how directors, dietitians and culinary teams can work together in harmony within an operation.

MenuDirections is the only noncommercial conference that brings all the segments together to share ideas and hear what’s happening in other areas. Yet we also recognize the value of being able to connect with the rock stars in your own segment to discuss unique challenges and opportunities that matter to you. So, for the second year, we will be hosting segment-specific breakouts on the final morning of the conference.

The sessions—which cover C&U, healthcare, business and industry and K-12—will be conducted in partnership with the related associations.

As always, our goal with MenuDirections—and for the last 30 years at FoodService Director—is to help you turn information into knowledge, bring you examples of what’s happening now and in the future, and leave you with obtainable ideas and strategies that you can put to work in your operations as soon as you return.

And in the spirit of change, I have an important introduction to make. We have a new face at the helm of FoodService Director this month. Managing Editor Abbey Lewis comes to us from our sister Winsight brand, Convenience Store Products. She’s already working hard to immerse herself in the issues that are most important to you, and she’s excited to meet some of you face to face at MenuDirections. She and I both are looking forward to seeing you soon in New Orleans!

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