Ethnic breakfast scores big on campus

congee ethnic breakfast

From Mrs. Dash Foodservice.

Listed as a top-20 food trend in the National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot 2016 Culinary Forecast, global breakfast items are on fire. In fact, in the breakdown by category, ethnic-inspired breakfast items beat out the competition for the No. 1 slot.

It’s no surprise, then, that ethnic-inspired breakfast foods are a hit with the college and university crowd. These students are savvy customers; they seek fresh, authentic and natural food that’s healthy and tastes good—and they have sophisticated palates. “We’re serving experienced students who are more diverse,” says Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary services for the University of Massachusetts dining services.

This sophistication can spell opportunity for operators. 47 percent of students say they would like campuses to offer more ethnic foods and beverages, according to Technomic. That number is up from 41 percent in 2013. What’s more, 24 percent of these students say they would be willing to pay more for ethnic ingredients and flavors.

With one of the nation’s largest university foodservice programs, UMass serves close to six million meals per year. Even though breakfast tends to be the slowest segment compared to lunch and dinner, Toong says he serves as many as 2,500 breakfasts daily. “Most students would rather sleep until class or an exam, even though they know breakfast is important,” he adds.

With that in mind, Toong makes sure to offer exciting, tasty dishes that can be eaten quickly or taken to go. “Convenience is very important to them,” says Toong.

Across the pond

Students love baked beans, roasted tomatoes and marinated mushrooms for breakfast, says Toong. Traditionally served as British or Australian side dishes, UMass students enjoy them topped with cheese, salt & pepper and a bit a of olive oil.

A nearby spice table, well stocked with Sriracha, salsa and a variety of seasonings, provide students the opportunity to further customize any breakfast, adding more kick and flavor.


Also at UMass, the Asian-influenced congee bar is a favorite among students. Toong offers two types of congee—a rice soup, similar in consistency to oatmeal—plain and chicken. Students can choose from a variety of toppings such as green onions, dried shrimp, fresh, fresh Chinese doughnuts and even eggs and bacon. For the Asian students who make up 15 percent of the student body, it’s a little taste of home. But the general population also enjoys the belly-warming, filling dish.

And since it’s a one-bowl meal, students can grab and go when they’re stressed for time, says Toong.

Demand for real food

Toong isn’t surprised by students’ cravings for international breakfast foods; a willingness to try new flavors complements their desire for whole food offered in a variety of ways, made with fresh, unique ingredients.

“Students want quality not quantity,” says Toong. “We’re building a culture of healthy, delicious food.”

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
management team

Last week’s NACUFS National Conference proved to be a treasure trove of management and staffing takeaways. Here are a few we noted at the annual event , held this year in Providence, R.I.

1. Make it scalable

When explaining something new to staff, instead of asking, “You got it?” or “You with me?” have employees rate how well they understand the new material on a scale of 1 to 10, said Ron Paul, a senior consulting partner for Partners in Leadership, during a session on building accountability in the workplace. People are likely to say yes even when they don’t fully grasp what you’...

Ideas and Innovation
song break

Once per month in a daily huddle, we dedicate a few minutes for the staff to sing a short song. The staff has responded so positively to this. They now bring costumes and other props. It's a few short minutes, but the payoff has been tremendous.

Photo courtesy of iStock

Ideas and Innovation
plastic straws

An item about the size of a pencil has become the latest target in foodservice operators’ sustainability plans. Though small, plastic straws are said to have a large impact on the environment, with Americans using approximately 500 million straws each day, according to a release from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, which temporarily ditched plastic straws as part of an Earth Day promotion this year.

In recent months, a growing number of eateries and cities across the United States have scrapped plastic straws. In July, Seattle enacted a ban on plastic straws and utensils, requiring...

Industry News & Opinion

Medford High School in Medford, Mass., is looking to add an orchard to its campus, Wicked Local reports.

The idea for the orchard was brought forth by students looking to help combat food insecurity. They are working with the school’s nutritionist to make the orchard a reality.

If planted, the orchard would be located inside the school’s courtyard and would grow fruits such as apples, paw paws, blueberries, peaches and plums. It would also include an outdoor classroom space.

The school committee signed off on the project last year; however, some administrators are...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code