Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JUL 2018

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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28 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • JULY 2018 of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative. We have a minimum expectation that every venue in every dining facility serves at least one plant-based entree. Seventy-five percent of our menu in every dining center is vegan, and 85 percent of our menu is vegetarian. We're currently focusing on increasing recipes for legumes and whole, intact grains to ensure we offer complete proteins. When plant-based recipes are vibrant, colorful, authentic, globally inspired, flavor-forward and enticing, they easily rival our non- plant-based recipes. We also put a lot of focus on plant-forward cuisine, meaning that the focus of a dish is on the vegetables and meat is used more as a garnish. Only a small percentage of our customers are truly vegan, but our customers love plant-based cuisine and are requesting it more than ever. In the past, we often had plant-based foods, but we didn't feature them to the full- est. Now, we're very out-front, hosting Menus of Change culinary competi- tions and tasting events on campus. We celebrate it and our chefs have figured out how to let plant-based foods shine. Pierce: Plant-based is a big focus here, with examples ranging from our new blended burger to less high-profile things, such as our switch to eggless mayo. One of the advantages of being a large institution is our relationship with manufacturers. We constantly say to them that we're willing and eager to test their new products. One, for instance, recently introduced a lentil- based pasta at retail and wanted to test it for institutional use, as well, and get our feedback. We did so, found it didn't cook quite right in this environment and they went back and changed the ratios. We're now serving lots of it. We also serve chickpea-based pasta as another source of plant-based protein, which is where a lot of our recipe development is focused. We'll be doing recipe development all summer for fall and we've said to our production chefs that we just want plant-based menus. We're also tweaking our traditional comfort foods and evolv- ing the items toward Menus of Change principles. We have a responsibility to our students to do so because habits they create while here are those that they'll take with them. When you make these significant shifts, like to a chicken strip that looks like a chicken strip but is made from a plant-based substitute, it can take a while for acceptance to kick in. But we're making headway. It's not a flavor- of-the-month sort of thing; it's a long- term evolutionary shift. Rodriguez: It's a running joke that here in West Texas customers want vegetarian, but they want it with a side of beef. But seriously, our culinary team, working with our dietitian, is moving in this direc- tion, developing more plant-based and healthier options. The feedback we're getting from students shows that there is support for it and it's part of our ongoing Smart Choices Wellness Program. Neumann: We're incorporating more plant-based items and vegan options, and we offer more grilled vegetables as well as grain-based salads and power bowls. We have more than twice the number of vegetarian and vegan options as a per- centage of our menu as we do students who self-identify as vegan or vegetarian. Our Jefferson Marketplace has a Veg- etable Butcher station, fresh juice area and sells produce grown on the campus farm. We're consistently graded A by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals folks. But plant-based gets a lot of buzz in part because the students who want it tend to be more vocal. In surveys, students consistently tell us we don't offer enough healthy food selections. It's interesting, though, that 'nugget Monday,' which we feature in one of our residential dining halls, is still incredibly popular with lines out the door every week. And we're still going through 323,000 pounds of french fries a year on this campus. When we built The District, we didn't put any fryers in and there's only one soda machine, but I still get pushback from students asking why they can't get burgers, pizza and fries there. My response is that we made a conscious effort, based in part on student sugges- tions, to provide healthier dining options. All the buzz aside, traditional, not-so- healthy standbys are still in big demand. FE&S: You're having drinks and discussing industry issues with peers after a conference. What's likely to be the biggest topic of conversation? Scott: Recruiting and retaining qualified staff and/or strategies for doing more with less. Funding for state schools is being cut to almost noth- ing and our contribution back to the university, as an important revenue- generator, continues to grow. Rodriguez: Labor, labor, labor — both skilled and nonskilled. Some of us are challenged with not finding enough help, some are challenged with the liv- ing wage and many with a combination of the two. It's the number one chal- lenge, particularly as expectations for service and quality continue to rise. We have to be much smarter about how we operate and that's why things like tap- ping order and pay technologies, and using smarter, more efficient equipment are so important to us. We need a lot of help from manufacturers to be able to do more with less and we're looking outside the box to figure out how to be able to meet and exceed expectations. Friese: I'd probably be talking with or about equipment manufacturers' response to the changing needs of the industry, such as sustainability, versa- tility, ease of maintenance and manu- facturer support after the sale. I enjoy the manufacturer side and discussing what could be the next 'big thing,' or how their products could be improved to better serve our segment. For many years, they'd listen but never act. Over time, however, I think they realized that we have unique experience and per- spective and they've started to engage with us. DIRECT DIRECTORS from the

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