Foodservice leaders seek to boost produce presence

05/05/2011 06:54:23 PM
Tom Karst

“Kids want us to make their food exciting and they want to have exercise as a fun activity,” she said.

Regis Holden, senior director of culinary services, Eat’n Park Restaurants, Homestead, Pa., said the restaurant has removed all prepared salads and instead makes all salads fresh every day. The chain, with a heavy business for its signature salad bar, offers 20 to 25 fresh fruits and vegetables every day.

The restaurant evaluates new menu items with a focus on nutrition, fruits and vegetables, fresh baked bread and adding herbs and seasonings to add to the flavor profile.

The difficult part of the process is the training aspect, he said. With so many locations so far apart — and so many team members touching food every day — he said the restaurant spends considerable time teaching how to prepare food uniformly for a consistent customer experience.

Jacques Wilson, executive chef, El Camino Hospital, Mountain View, Calif., said the hospital has taken fried food off the menu and added more produce. The hospital’s menu items have less protein but more vegetables than previously, he said.

Wilson said the hospital keeps its costs down by working with a seasonal menu and blending various vegetables depending on price points.

Dan Barash, executive chef, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Atlanta, Ga., said the 430-restaurant chain puts a big emphasis on food safety and traceability in produce vendors. Franchise owners can choose their local produce suppliers, as long as those suppliers meet food safety and traceability standards set by the chain, he said.

Martin Breslin, directory of culinary operations, Harvard University Dining Services, Cambridge, Mass., said the dining operation is able to provide squash from a local grower. Breslin said 8% of Harvard’s students are vegetarians, and he said the dining facilities uses all fresh produce with the exception of peas and corn.


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