Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JUL 2018

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48 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • JULY 2018 shop and storage," he says. Penn State uses a former dining hall that has been converted to a cater- ing space. Because of the number of athletic events, the department also has a kitchen in the stadium. And the cater- ing team uses kitchens in venues such as the dean's house for smaller events. The staff also have access to mobile grills and ovens at event sites. Notre Dame has a "massive facil- ity," according to Yaradi. The Center for Culinary Excellence, opened in late 2014, functions as a stand-alone foodservice operation about a mile from campus. Catering takes up half of that building; the other half includes a cook-and-chill operation, bakery and grab-and-go program. Virtually all modern campus cater- ing kitchens use the latest cooking technology: combi ovens, induction units, vacuum tumblers, sous vide and cook-chill systems. UMass, for one, is also using front-of-the-house cooking equipment. One example: induction woks. As in the dining halls, Sullivan says people want to see food prepared in front of them. One aid to keeping food hot is an induction unit that sits beneath the surface of a roller cart. Yaradi says Notre Dame has "tre- mendous firepower" to support the vol- ume of catering food prep, which staff primarily do from scratch. "We have a lot of combi ovens," he adds. Planning and organization software help Notre Dame both in expense management and operational efficiency. One app sets out the arrangement of tables at an event for optimal efficiency. WASTE MANAGEMENT: A KEY CONCERN There are two basic approaches to the management of nonfood waste gener- ated at catered events: the use of china and the use of compostables. "Our new normal is composting," says Penn State's Chef Kroboth. While Penn State uses china occasionally, they have transitioned to high-quality compostable plates, cups and flatware. "We do proper recycling re- ceptacles at an event," he says. "We work closely with the garbage department. They drop off 10 different recycling bins or compostable bins for us. We have educational signs up and staff members available to make sure people are doing the right thing." Yaradi uses china extensively at Notre Dame events. When they do deliveries, however, the containers are all made of recycled goods. "There is a heightened focus on campus to minimize waste and reduce our carbon footprint," he says. Yale also uses 100 percent biode- gradable dining products. They use china only if the client requests it. Van Sullivan at UMass prefers china. "It's a pain to transport because it is heavy," he notes. "But at the end of the day, it's a heck of a lot more sustainable. It's great to have compostable disposables, but you are still creating trash. They still require a great deal of carbon, so the less you can do of that, the better." Food waste presents yet another issue. At UMass, the catering sales team helps clients match orders to actual needs to reduce the amount of food left over at the end of an event. Taking the food waste effort a step further, student food recovery teams pick up leftover food post-event and deliver it to local shelters. Yaradi says students at Yale, too, are passionate about donating leftover food to local shelters. They pick up food in their own cars to transport it to those in need. His department also uses a digital app to monitor and track waste both in pre- and post-cooking. TOP CHALLENGES: BUDGETING, STAFFING Expense management is a challenge for virtually all catering departments. Sul- livan points out: "Being on a university campus as opposed to being in a true catering venue, people expect much lower prices. Expense management is a major challenge on a day-to-day basis." He adds, "Revenues are a tough battle. People are feeling stress on their budgets. We're trying to find ways to be efficient." Every year, UMass catering puts on an all-campus barbecue to celebrate Founders Day. The event usually draws 15,000 people. Last year, Sullivan was asked to cut costs by roughly 30 percent. To make the budget work, his team invested more planning time, gathering resources over the course of a few months. "We were able to get high- quality products, but it took a lot more pencil sharpening," he says. The financial success of the bar- becue was due to the kind of careful preplanning the team gives all events. "We've been able to continue to give the campus great service but within budgetary constraints," Sullivan says. Chef Kroboth feels the pinch as well at Penn State. "Insurance is going up," he says. "Employee benefits are going up. Rates are going up. Food prices are rising. We want to capture events instead of having them go outside the university, so we have to keep our pricing in line." Despite this, he sees revenues increasing. Part of this comes from cutting operat- ing costs, including labor, and providing more efficient distribution. Notre Dame's Yaradi cites staffing as his number one challenge. Lack of tal- ented, trained staff is an all-industry issue that has not left catering unscathed. Regardless of serious challenges and transformational trends, college and university catering departments are succeeding in their evolving efforts to provide viable and exciting campus and community events. FE&S UMass partnered with White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier to create a dinner modeled after an official White House state dinner, complete with presidential impersonators. COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY CATERING SPOTLIGHT

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