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How Digital Tools are Transforming Foodservice

Chef Taking Food Inventory

Are you interested in improving efficiency, increasing output, and reducing food waste in your restaurant or other foodservice business? If you are, it may be time to get technical. That's right, technology is playing an increasingly important role in the foodservice industry.

According to an article in Forbes magazine, we owe many of the improvements in the production, packaging, shelf life, and safety of food to improved technology in the food industry. From drone farmworkers to robotic butchers, technology is impacting all areas of food production and distribution. For example, satellite imagery helps monitor weather patterns that can affect the timing of planting and harvesting. Farm drones pinpoint diseased crops so that pesticides can be applied precisely where they're needed instead of blanket bombing entire fields. Advanced packaging can improve food safety, increase shelf life, and help eliminate waste.

Going Green

Technology can even help your business go green. An app such as Copia can keep track of your food inventory to help you make more informed purchasing decisions. It will also help you reduce food waste by connecting you with local non-profits who can make good use of your surplus food.

After-school programs, shelters, and other programs will benefit from that surplus while you reap the tax benefits of your donations. Not only that, but you'll no longer be contributing to the 40% of American food that gets wasted each year. That's an important point for many customers, especially millennials and generation Z.

Sustainability is a major concern for many of these younger customers. They may even choose a place to eat based on it. Reducing water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions go hand in hand with reducing food waste. So too does sourcing food locally, since it reduces the fuel and emissions associated with long-distance shipping. Not only is improved sustainability beneficial to the planet, but it also benefits your bottom line through lower food costs and an increased customer base.

Managing Inventory and Production Schedules

Use technology to help you with more accurate inventory management so that you always know what to order and when. You can also use it to manage your production schedule in order to improve efficiency and reduce wasteful overproduction. According to the non-profit ReFED organization, you can save thousands of dollars annually just by using technology to track and reduce waste.

Want More Like This? Register for our "Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021" webinar!

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Food As Medicine – An Intro Guide

Fruit and Medicine Bottles

 

If there's one thing we learned in the past year, it's that our health is the most important thing we have. And as we know, one of the most important aspects to staying healthy is eating a healthy diet. Yes, food is important because it helps us stay healthy.

Eating a healthy well-balanced diet year-round is key in keeping your immune system healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables give us many of the vitamins and minerals our body craves and prevents infections. While supplements can be useful, it's better to get what you need from fresh or frozen foods and not a capsule. Hospitals and senior care communities across the country know this, and that's why food is often viewed as medicine — food has the power to heal.

With cold and flu season in full swing, now is the time to do everything necessary to keep our bodies healthy and free from disease. Especially in the age of COVID-19, bodies need these six beneficial vitamins and ingredients:

Vitamin C

Your mother probably told you to drink your orange juice because it was packed with vitamin C, and you should always listen to mom. The simple reason it's so important is that it may increase white blood cell production, which helps to fight viruses, bacteria, and infections.

Foods packed with vitamin C include:

  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Tangerines
  • Red bell peppers
  • Broccoli

Not only do these foods help boost immunity, but they're also great for maintaining skin and eye health.

Vitamin E

Not always thought of as the most common vitamin when boosting immunity, but vitamin E is a powerhouse. Packed with antioxidants, which help protect cells against free radicals, vitamin E is important for eye, blood, and brain health.

Foods full of vitamin E include:

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is super important in that it is anti-inflammatory and may help antibodies respond to toxins in the body. It's also fat-soluble, which means it's best to include healthy fats with it to aid in absorption.

Important for vision and cell division and reproduction, here are some common foods packed with vitamin A.

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut squash
  • Spinach
  • Dairy products
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dark leafy greens

Iron

Iron helps support immune health. It is a key nutrient in helping develop white blood cells and mobilizing their response. Iron is also crucial to blood health and reproductive health.

Need more iron in your diet? Try these foods.

  • Chicken
  • Red meat
  • Turkey
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Canned tuna

Zinc

In order to produce new immune system cells, zinc must be present. Unfortunately for us, zinc is a mineral our body doesn't produce, so we need to get it elsewhere. It's typically found in shellfish (oysters, crab, lobster), but eating yogurt or chickpeas will also do the trick.

The thing about zinc is that you need it for healthy immune function, but getting too much of it can have the opposite effect and impair immunity.

Garlic

Garlic isn't used to just season food or give you stinky breath, but it contains a myriad of compounds to support immune system health. It has been shown to reduce stress hormones and increase the production of T-cells. This superstar may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol according to recent clinical trials. Used throughout the ages to treat colds and infections, soldiers even used it in World War II to prevent gangrene.

The concept of "food as medicine" is just one trend to look for in 2021. Learn more about the top food and beverage trends of the new year in our recorded webinar, “Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021”.

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Why Restaurants Are Important to Local Economies

Restaurant Open Sign

 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants are challenged as patrons shelter in place and local regulations ban many dining rooms from reopening. While restaurants have certainly demonstrated the adaptability required as they've pivoted to curbside service and delivery, there's no doubting the importance of in-person dining to both our community psyche and our local economies.

For starters, consider a recent study that says of all things consumers want to do in a post-pandemic world, going to a restaurant is the top item. In fact, 62 percent of all respondents indicated this is the first thing they'll do. While restaurants are great for our collective psyche, they're also great for the economy. Considering just the independent restaurants -- not chains or other types of operations -- the number of people independent restaurants employ in New York City alone is greater than the number employed by the entire United States aviation industry. The Independent Restaurant Coalition has cited these facts and others as part of their campaign to help local economies.

But why are restaurants so important to local economies? Let's take a closer look.

Employ Locals

When you consider the number of people required to run a full-service restaurant -- from bartenders to dishwashers -- and then you factor in the number of meal services per day, there's no denying the power of foodservice when it comes to employing people. According to the National Restaurant Association, more than half of Americans have worked in foodservice at one point or another, accounting for nearly 16 million people employed by the restaurant industry at any given moment.

This is a great reason to support local restaurants during the current pandemic. Whether it be carryout or delivery, or even in-person dining when available and as consumers become more comfortable, supporting our local restaurants is paramount to supporting our local economies.

The Supply Chain

Many restaurants put money into the local economy. From paying rent or property taxes to utilities, restaurants pump a lot of cash into the local economy. More and more, restaurants are taking advantage of local suppliers to create farm-to-table menus, and this is more cash that flows into the local community.

Restaurants will run to the local grocery store for emergency supplies, and their delivery drivers stop at local convenience stores for gas. Plus, most of the employees that they employ will spend their paychecks locally, pumping even more money into the local economy. Most restaurants use local banks for deposits, and this also helps to keep the economy flourishing. All across the supply chain and in periphery businesses, supporting local restaurants helps support the local economy.

A Sense of Community

Every town in America has that one pizza place where the little league teams go after games or the barbecue joint where all the locals flock to pick up goodies for tailgating before the big game. Most people enjoy going out for a meal with family and friends. It provides a sense of camaraderie and community.

There are always certain restaurants in any town that everyone knows. Not only do they know the place, they know the people who work there or own it. In some ways, the sense of community created makes the restaurant as important to locals as their own kitchens. Some towns are known as foodie havens, and this sense of community comes from all the local and national businesses in the area.

Tourism

Food tourism is a big thing. People will go out of their ways or even plan trips just to try a particular restaurant or dish. You aren't going to go to Atlanta without eating at the Varsity or to San Francisco without dining at the Fog City Cafe. A town with a thriving restaurant culture can become a tourist destination all on its own. Also, when traveling by car, people will choose to stay the night in cities with a lot of good restaurants. You may find that part of the reason a person returns to your local community is that they love eating at a specific restaurant. A good local restaurant can make a huge difference for a town of any size, especially for attracting visitors.

Supporting the local community foodservice establishments will be an important foodservice trend in 2021. Discover more trends in our recorded webinar "Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021".

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2021 Trends Foodservice Consultants Should Consider

Sustainable consumption and healthy eating, along with climate change, are significantly influencing consumer choices.

 More than ever before, people want to know the source of their food, how healthy are its contents, and whether it has been produced, processed, packaged and distributed in a sustainable fashion.

This article from Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) quotes a report by the research firm Datassential indicating the climate crisis and a new generation of plant-based foods will impact our industry in 2020, and these are all trends that foodservice consultants should know.

Sustainable Food

The relevant questions for sustainable food are how much land is required, how much water are we using, and are we using too much energy in the production and processing of our food supplies?

Tastewise, a company that brings the power of AI to analyzing food trends, studied over two billion social interactions, more than three million online recipes, and the largest restaurant menu database available of 274,000 restaurants to conclude that, compared to a year ago, food sustainability is a high priority item for 23 percent more consumers. 

Customers are now placing greater emphasis on sustainable ingredients and resource-light production techniques like hydroponics, recyclable packaging, and the avoidance of plastic. Another notable fact is the emergence of vegetarianism and veganism as mainstream trends. 

Clara Ming Pi of FCSI says, "I am very pleased to say that, finally, the plant-based movement is here!" The adoption of plant-based foods has another motivation driving it: health consciousness.

Healthier Food Choices

It turns out that a meat-based diet is not only resource-intensive but also a contributing factor to health issues like cancer. 

"Our food supplies contribute to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, and the foods that create the most greenhouse gases are the same foods that are contributing to many of our chronic diseases," Pi said. 

Thirty-nine percent of consumers' conversations about sustainable food also include references to the health benefits of various food choices. Another relevant statistic is that the sale of plant-based food in the U.S. has increased by 8.1 percent over the last year. 

"We see more healthy, sustainable and plant-based dining that tastes appetizing to a wider demographic than ever before," said Melanie Corey-Ferrini, CEO of 3.14DC Design and Consulting, an FCSI associate.

Technology and the Food Chain

The food industry needs to cope with shifts in consumers' preferences. Advances in technology enable production techniques like hydroponics. Technological advances also help the industry cope with the recent trend towards catering and takeout. Restaurant layout, kitchen design, and staff skills have to change to adapt to this emerging trend. 

"Think smart equipment, mobile technology like order/pay apps, and robots for foodservice tasks including delivery,” said Connie Dickson, a principal with FCSI associate member.

Taste Trends

FSCI reports the following shifts in U.S. consumers' taste preferences:

  • Trending regional flavors: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Latin American.
  • Foreign foods in demand: Mexican Puebla Hot Pot (a chicken dish), Greek Manouri (a goat cheese), Indian Millet (an ancient grain), Tanzanian Mishkaki (marinated meat skewers), and Chinese Jianbing (street-food breakfast crepe)
  • Growing restaurant concepts: Chef-driven fast-casual, Farm-to-table, and Family-friendly
  • Emerging restaurant concepts: Dog-friendly, Upcycling, and Hyper-local
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Restaurant Trend Predictions for 2021

As we venture into the new decade, the market for food is making some pretty drastic changes.

Make sure your New Year's resolutions include more than expanding your menu. From new recipes to the biggest of trends, everyone is looking for ways to improve the customer experience, and here are a few of our predictions to look out for in the New Year.

1. Transparency

People want to know what's in their food, how it's made, and if it's good for them. Throughout 2021, consumers will want restaurants to expand on transparency when it comes to how guests are spending their money. This can mean build-your-own options, front-of-the-house theater kitchens, sourcing listed on menus, and much more. Either way, today’s consumers, especially those Millennials and Gen Zers, are looking for information about what they’re eating.

2. Home-Meal Kits

Those subscription meal kits that have been taking over in 2020 will continue to be all the craze as we embrace 2021. Their easily accessible content can make grocery shopping unnecessary, and they give you the chance to try new recipes without making too much to eat. Consumers love that each kit measures the needed ingredients and allows you to cut back on the preparation time it takes to make a delicious dish. Most of the subscriptions offer organic or meat-free choices, leaning into that healthier diet movement.

3. Green Growth

Healthy eating is the new trend, and it's taking over by storm. More people are growing cautious over the things they put in their bodies, requesting more plant-based meals and actually changing their diets. You can expect green vegetables to be the 2021 craze, as well as a continuation of plant-based meat options. Another perk is that focusing on greens is more eco-friendly and sustainable, which is another draw for younger demographics.

4. Take-Out and Delivery

As technology makes access to delivery easier, it's efficient in allowing consumers to continue their busy schedules without having to sit down in a restaurant to eat. More people are dropping by to pick up orders or simply requesting somebody to deliver them through various apps. Restaurants will be pushed to cater to those consumers more frequently in the upcoming year, and they will need to expand on their menu and carry-out options for those orders that leave their location. This will take thought, foresight, and the equipment and staff to deliver quality.

5. Fermented Drinks 

Kombucha has been flying off the shelves since it appeared on many people's radar due to a meme on social media. Upon discovering it, it's created and remained a trend due to the health benefits that come with drinking it, especially in communities that are more health-conscious to begin with. We anticipate this trend to continue growing, though, even into cities or certain parts of the country that have had limited exposure to soft drink alternatives like kombucha. Here’s to the ‘booch!

6. Strange and Out There

While trends are exciting, more operations are getting bold when it comes to growing their business and gaining attention. The 2021 year will bring more eye-catching menu items and ideas that are a little wild in comparison to the typical plain burger or salad. To make sure these items are crave-worthy, you'll notice they're only offered for a limited time. This is a great play on marketing and pushes hungry customers to want to try the newest item before it's gone forever. 

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The COVID Resource Roundup

If there was one word to describe 2020, “uncertainty” has to be at the top of the list.

The world has completely changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ability to adapt and adjust to this new world we live in, especially in foodservice, has never been more critical. Here at Lakeside, our first instinct is to help our customers, whether it’s through in-room meal solutions in healthcare, sanitization in restaurants, or meal delivery and accessibility in K-12 and colleges and universities. Continue reading The COVID Resource Roundup

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2 Drainage Options All Foodservice Consultants Should Know About

Made To Drain created two unique products designed to make drainage easy, effective, and convenient.

What sets Made To Drain (MTD) apart is the engineered floor troughs developed to assist and enhance the draining process. The Leak Eliminator and Clog-Free™ are two of MTD’s products that are making a big difference in kitchens everywhere. Anyone who works in the foodservice industry will want to know about these amazing drain options.

Made To Drain’s Leak Eliminator

Nobody wants to deal with having a leak no matter how big or small the damage is. The Leak Eliminator was designed by MTD is help avoid unnecessary leaks when it comes to floor trough installations. All of MTD’s products are created with the intention of containing and redirecting excessive water and debris. The seepage flange mates support the flooring of the trough while also clenching down to create a “watertight seal”. The weep holes placed on the flange permit any excess liquid to smoothly flow into the building drain line. Investing in the Leak Eliminator is a good way to be proactive and, hopefully, avoid leaks all together! The Leak Eliminator, and all of MTD’s products, were carefully constructed to guarantee the highest levels of quality and safety for their consumers and customers. Buying the Leak Eliminator is not just an everyday purchase but an investment. Read more the specifics of the Leak Eliminator by visiting MTD’s site.

Made To Drain’s Clog-Free™

MTD’s Clog-Free™ has given drainage a whole new image and reputation. Clogs are a problem of the past when consumers invest in Clog-Free™. With Clog-Free™ consumers are able to completely eliminate free-standing water. This particular product provides the ultimate protection for any tile and grout used to ground a floor trough by virtually cutting back on all clogs and leaks. As a result, another added benefit of Clog-Free™ is a noteworthy difference in minimizing the number of slips and falls taking place in the kitchen area. Clog-Free™ takes safety to a new level.

However, it is the high capacity strainer trays that make Clog-Free™ stand out. Watch this video to see how beautifully the tray works in action. Grease traps will indirectly greatly benefit from investing in Clog-Free™ by reducing the amount of sediment throughout the process. Not to mention, the additional perk of never having to make another maintenance-related phone call is enough to make anyone in the foodservice industry consider investing in Clog-Free™.

How to make the best drainage choice

Food consultants are one-way interested individuals are able to learn about drainage options when it comes to the foodservice industry. Made To Design’s website provides potential customers with the essential information needed to make the best decision. For each product

Made To Design shares the spec sheet, Revit, and installation guide of each and every product. Navigating the architecture of MTD’s products can seem overwhelming, but it is actually a very easy process. Made To Drain provides all of their contact information for any questions or concerns and is happy to help you with this process. Use this tool provided by Made To Drain to find a rep nearby to begin exploring all of the products and opportunities today.

In the past, drainage may have not been considered innovative or impressive, but Made To Drain has changed the drainage game. The foodservice industry is changing for the better with products like Leak Eliminator and  Clog-Free™. It can be overwhelming to begin thinking about these changes and purchases, but Made To Drain is here to help. Check out MTD’s engineered floor troughs and remarkable draining options and it will be obvious why consumers will want to invest in these products.

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How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020

Pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan.

Many have prepared for emergencies like fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or mass shootings, but a pandemic was not on the list for the near future. Since being prepared is key to any good action plan, a lot of pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan. Nonetheless, they stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park with response plans created to anticipate the worst, respond immediately, and adapt to the inevitable changes to come. Circumstances differ from hospital to hospital due to location and outbreak, but food service leaders are working hard to keep providing food to patients and staff. Continue reading How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020

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The Celebrity Appeal Behind Food Waste Reduction

Food waste reduction is popular for a variety of reasons. It fights hunger. It’s good for the environment. It’s appealing to younger consumers. And it’s profitable.

But there’s another type of popularity to consider when it comes to food waste reduction, and it involves celebrities and household names.

James Beard is arguably the most recognized name we associate with restaurants. The James Beard Foundation Awards are essentially the “Oscars of Food,” as every year, restaurants, chefs, journalists, writers, TV producers, bartenders, and sommeliers are given our country’s top honors. Now, they’re also educating us on how to make the most of our food.

With the release of Waste Not: How to Get the Most From Your Food, the James Beard Foundation provides some answers from several “scrap-savvy” chefs. Some of their tips?

  • Utilize roots as part of the dish. They can add a beautiful element, and depending on the type of vegetable, add a great bitter element.
  • Roast wilting vegetables like celery and carrots to bring them back to life.
  • Don’t peel vegetables. Instead of shedding the outer layer of a carrot or cucumber, wash it well, and use the brilliant colors. Citrus peels? Send them to the bar for use in cocktails.
  • Purée wilting herbs with olive oil before they turn black. Then freeze them for later use.
  • Freeze berries on a tray rather than together so they don’s stick to one another.
  • Use vegetable scraps, roots, tops, and greens to create vegetable stock.

These are just a few examples contained in James Beard’s book on food waste, but the Beard name isn’t the only one popping up in food waste reduction efforts. All across the country, famous chefs and culinary experts are joining the fray, as we look to reduce the amount of food we waste.

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste

A film from the late executive producer Anthony Bourdain, Wasted! The Story of Food Waste aims to change the way people buy, cook, recycle, and eat food. As seen through the eyes of some of the most famous chefs in the world, this documentary shows viewers how to make the most of our foods, transforming what most consider as scraps into incredible dishes.

Celebrity Chefs Across the Pond

In an article in Reuters, Chef Douglas McMaster described working in a previous job as a young cook, watching as hundreds of gem lettuces were thrown away as only the root was served… as a garnish. McMaster was the 2009 BBC Young Chef of the Year and now owns Britain’s first zero-waste restaurant.

“We like to think of zero waste as not having a bin,” McMaster said. “Every natural thing has a purpose, you just got to find out what that purpose is.”

Food Waste Pop-Ups

Chef Dan Barber was featured in the first season of Netflix’s critically-acclaimed series, Chef’s Table. Barber has been called a “philosopher chef,” and owns the prestigious Blue Hill restaurant in Westchester County, New York. He also owned a restaurant in Greenwich Village called Blue Hill, but changed it to a food waste pop-up called WastED, serving dishes from ingredients that would normally be headed for the trash.

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Did Someone Order Delivery? In-Room Service Gains Traction

In-Room Service Gains Traction Amongst Hospitals & Care Facilities Across The Country

The limitations and closures of gathering points in hospitals due to COVID-19 have impacted in-room service. However, special attention to in-room service was gaining traction well before the pandemic began. Doctors have always said food can be more than fuel for your body, and with the right nutrients, it can help in the healing process too. Some hospitals are using that concept, as well as patient experience, to change the stereotypes of hospital food for the better and improve patient satisfaction.  Let’s take a look at three healthcare facilities in particular that have started to take a more hospitality-inspired approach to in-room service.

UCLA HEALTH SYSTEM

Open 6:45 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., UCLA offers a restaurant ordering system where the kitchen cooks meals on-demand with menus updated to physician requested, plant-based meals with protein optional additions. Regularly scheduled tray service is still available to neuropsychiatry patients, which is why UCLA’s kitchen is separated into two sections to cater to both types of services.

Keeping in mind there is a 90-minute window between mealtimes, UCLA staff alternates between making and sending 25 trays to 1 unit in neuropsychiatric care and cooking and delivering room service tickets. This staggered approach has eliminated many challenges associated with offering both services.

Room service at UCLA is promised to arrive within 45 minutes but averages 28 minutes. What’s their secret? Food lifts.

Each floor has a dedicated cart with a timer for seven minutes. The cart is wheeled into the lift,  sent up to its designated floor, and the patient is immediately notified. To ensure quality, the cart enters into a pantry where hot and cold additions are added just before being taken to the patient, and the meal is delivered with food and drinks at the correct temperatures.

JOHNS HOPKINS HEALTH SYSTEM

John Hopkins offers Hotel-style, on-demand room service to their patients. They name this style of service the Johns Hopkins At Your Request program. Doctors realized there was a lot of food waste when they had patients ordering the day before, resulting in many being unavailable to receive their meals.

The John Hopkins At You Request program gives patients the flexibility to order their meals anytime between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and receive it within 60 minutes. To better accommodate nutritional diets prescribed to patients, John Hopkins also provides a nutritional department to help assist in meal decisions. Their diverse menu options are a significant factor in the success of the program.

The freedom to choose between traditional hospital foods like meatloaf and upscale items like salmon makes the patient feel satisfied with their meal experience, even when they don’t order the extravagant items. In fact, the majority stick with the traditional items, while the occasional upscale orders bring comfort to patients and family members who need it.

ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

St. Jude’s primary focus is on young patients and their families. Patients aren’t limited to in-hospital care, as many of their outpatients go through treatment at nearby housing sponsored by St. Jude and receive their customized meals there. They use a Combi Oven to deliver quality food within expectations of 30 – 45 minutes. As for their future plans for servie? They’re expected to upgrade their systems to TV-operated ordering services and explore newer cooking technologies. Nonetheless, their specialty is in the services they provide.

Considering the age of their patients, their happiness is a priority. The chef often greets patients with a hug and smile, with meals that are fully specialized to encourage the patient to eat and heal. So much so, that patients have even gone to the kitchen to teach the chefs how to make their food!