Economy forces shift in foodservice sales

11/04/2009 01:38:43 PM
Jim Offner

Meanwhile, Odiorne said, the commission is emphasizing a value-variety-versatility concept in its foodservice marketing plan.

“All three of those topics are what we’re concentrating on with our chefs’ efforts in working with chain operators,” he said. “The value, of course, is that potatoes are often something that can be menued at a cost of 20 to 50 cents for a potato, spanning the range from what would be served in a noncommercial operation all the way up to a 1-pound potato in a steak place.”

That value is extremely important to operators,” Odiorne said.

“They’re doing menu re-engineering to build in profitability and hit certain price points and so on,” he said. “So we think we’ve got a real good message with Idaho potatoes to get out to operators on value.”

Chefs are key allies in promoting potatoes, Odiorne said.

“Chefs pride themselves on their own creativity,” he said. “We learned a long time ago that when we developed a recipe booklet, it’s really just a starting point for chefs. For example, if chefs see something made with crab or shrimp and they can’t afford that on their menu, they’ll alter the recipe to do something less expensive. Or they’ll upscale it.”

Chefs also are regionalizing menus, with potatoes as key ingredients in those efforts, Odiorne noted.

“A chef from Florida, Norman van Aken, from Norman’s, is credited as one of the first chefs to have regional south Florida cuisine, where he did sort of a new world cuisine,” he said.

“He used Florida and the Caribbean — called it Floribbean — he developed a recipe using our russets but also our new varieties of purple Peruvians, a red potato with a yellow flesh, and came up with a side dish or entree. The particular recipe we’re featuring is an entree with scallops. There are circles of the potatoes made from the reds.”


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