In Pursuit of Hospitality

In Pursuit of Hospitality

"Flight attendants please prepare for departure." Another week in the books. This time of year is especially exhausting as hundreds of higher education campuses welcome back students. For me, we're closing out a three-week travel schedule consisting of 14 cities training several thousand culinary & hospitality employees. This year marks my twentieth year in the industry; you’d think it would be second-nature by now. The truth is, every year is different and this year is by far the most exciting. This year I'm leading the culinary team of a brand new organization. 

I've spent a fair amount of time lately considering what's going on in our food landscape. This introduction to the National Geographic series of Investigating the Future of Food

We are amidst an incredible culinary renaissance where we are radically redefining our cultural relationship with food. We haven't seen as a dynamic shift in the food landscape since the mid to late 1950's industrialization of our food system. Ironically, we are fundamentally unraveling these industrialized developments and once more fully engaging clean, wholesome, fresh ingredients.

Throughout my time in the hospitality industry, food as an ingredient is not the only transformation. We have fundamentally seen a change in the role of chef. The Executive Chef is the rock star of today, not just a cook proficient in technique and flavor development, but an educator, environmental steward, wellness advocate, leader, scientist, and innovator. I am passionate to be a part of leading our culinary revolution. As a Chef, I am focused on three key fundamentals: ingredient transparency, artisan small-batch preparation, and continuous menu innovation.

I can’t think of a better time to be a chef! 

 ...but as as exciting as it is working in the “industry” today, we also bear some significant responsibilities. Why? What’s the future of food?

How to do you lead in the food industry today?

My experience? There are two camps. The first: the group that doesn’t consider themselves leaders. They’ve never stopped to ponder it. These people just know food. They don’t know anything about the food industry, the food system or food service. The second: the group that knows everything about it (or think they do.) Usually, this group drones on about insights, consumers, and innovation. They know all about what today’s consumer wants. Sadly they couldn’t cook to save their lives and they're clueless about the fact that consumers buy toaster ovens and mattresses. Guests dine at restaurants.

It is this divide that used to separate the restaurant kitchen from the institutional kitchen. The reality today is that line is becoming blurred. One cannot exist without the other. 

What we need now is a third group. A blend of both. A group of CHEFS that are proficient practitioners of the craft of culinary arts educated in the larger impact of food on our planet. This elite but growing group includes chefs like José Andrés, Dan Barber of any of the other 11 Chefs Changing the Food System.   

I said earlier we really are in a culinary revolution. Food is NOT a product. It shouldn’t come in a foil bag or a plastic bottle. Food is an experience. In growing, preparing, cooking, serving and enjoying. Food without experience is just fuel. The world's expectations about food is changing. The food service industry is dying. We’ve left the old model of the cafeteria “scoop and plop” in the rear view and embraced a new era of hospitality. That's a tall order. For me, one of my responsibilities is to take the lunch-lady of yesterday and transform her into the restauranteur of tomorrow.

The best way I know how to tell that story of hospitality evolution is through the words of an eleven-year-old:

Ladies and gentlemen at the time of this recording Birke was eleven years old. Recorded in 2010, that makes Birke around 18. Let me introduce you to the next member of our freshmen class. THIS is our customer. Studies show that 69% of his peer group -Generation Z, cares about the same things Birke does. 

I've always defined hospitality as anticipating the needs of our Guests and exceeding their expectations. Our Guest is changing. Their expectations are changing. It's time for leaders. Leaders who deliver culinary experiences. Leaders who understand food and the impact it has on the world. Leaders with the ability, energy and drive to elevate our cultural relationship with food to new heights; transforming food to better our bodies through health and wellness and improve our impact on our environment by becoming better stewards to the planet. 

At our schools, when we serve our Guests, we are stewards of our client's brand -a challenge we take incredibly seriously and requires discipline and leadership. We are passionate about serving you and exceeding your expectations.

Summer 2018 Harvest Table Tastings

Summer 2018 Harvest Table Tastings

0D78A1B7-DC78-4306-876F-A01E105360F1.jpeg
Screen Shot 2018-08-02 at 1.38.55 PM.png
 Chefs Jermery Joy, Jordan Rogers, Matthew Thompson, Adam Neill & Jay Vetter

Chefs Jermery Joy, Jordan Rogers, Matthew Thompson, Adam Neill & Jay Vetter

 Chefs Justin Garcia, Adam Neill, Matthew Thompson, Jay Vetter & Candice Lawson

Chefs Justin Garcia, Adam Neill, Matthew Thompson, Jay Vetter & Candice Lawson

Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show

Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show

29793450_10156179561127088_2682628828063364119_n.jpg
IMG_0236.JPG

The first day of Cook. Craft. Create.

ACF National Convention & Show 2018

  • We explored plant-forward cuisines and the management of evolving foodservice needs with Tulane University's Chef Leah Sarris.
  • Attendees took walking tours around the Big Easy, exploring the city's extensive food history and craft beer scene.
  • The Masquerade Welcome Reception was a hit! 

The Masquerade Welcome Reception was a hit! Masked revelers took to the red carpet in some amazing accoutrements. Sponsored by: Boar's Head Brand, Natural Tableware, Smithfield, Sterling Silver Premium Meats, Inc., Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

 

1484323_10152086823807088_53449935_n.jpg

Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show 2018 Day 2. Check out the video to see some of our favorite moments.

  • Possibilities: The Life of a Chef
    From humble beginnings in a trapper's cabin in rural St James Parish, Louisiana, Chef John Folse has emerged as one of the nation's leading culinary entrepreneurs. He has taken his famous "Taste of Louisiana" around the world: from London to Hong Kong, and from Moscow to the Vatican. This Cajun man's journey from harvesting food from Louisiana's swamp floor panty to serving five US presidents as well as Pope John Paul II will not only be informative but entertaining as well. Presented by: John D Folse, CEC, AAC, HOF, HBOT, CEO/Owner/Executive Chef, Chef John Folse & Company
  • Culinary Medicine: Where Health Meets Food
    In this interactive tasting, we will introduce the concept of culinary medicine, or preventing and treating disease through food. Attendees will learn about innovative programming happening throughout the US in the medical field and in communities teaching people that food can be both delicious and nourishing. We will also explore culinary nutrition tenets and investigate your role as a chef and food service operator in this growing movement. Presented by: Leah Sarris, Program Director/Executive Chef, Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine
 Culinary Medicine: Where Health Meets Food

Culinary Medicine: Where Health Meets Food

 The "gold standard" chicken salad, vs. the "healthy" with apples & cranberries

The "gold standard" chicken salad, vs. the "healthy" with apples & cranberries

  • We learned how Tabasco has spiced up the last 150 years with sound environmental practices, artisanal manufacturing processes and a passion for the food industry.
  • The Dr. L.J. Minor Chef Professionalism Award was chosen by the ACF membership for the first time since the award's inception.
IMG_0240.JPG
 Chef John D. Folse talked on "Possibilities: The Life of a Chef" during the opening general session

Chef John D. Folse talked on "Possibilities: The Life of a Chef" during the opening general session

 The Dr. L.J. Minor Chef Professionalism Award Dinner Menu

The Dr. L.J. Minor Chef Professionalism Award Dinner Menu

7A855FB3-477A-46BE-A2E6-116D05C48789.JPG

Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show 2018 Day 3 was Aloha Tuesday, so most attendees skipped the chef coats in favor of leis and Hawaiian shirts. Check out the video below to see some of our favorite moments.

  • Student Chef of the Year, Pastry Chef of the Year and Student Team Edible Cold Platter Prep competitions were going all day.
  • The ACF Tradeshow showed off the best of the culinary world, with sponsors and exhibitors sharing the latest innovations food, equipment and services.
  • So many demos and workshops! From "Balancing Your Plate With Asian Flavors" with Chef Jason Licker and Chef R. Andrew Chlebana's "Jazzed-Up Tarts," to "Finding Time for You: Health, Fitness and Your Future" from Eric the Trainer and Chef Charles Carroll and "Wisconsin Cheddar & Kentucky Bourbon - A Love Story" with Peter Leuer of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and the Society of Wine Educators' Jane Nickles, there was something for everybody yesterday.

Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show 2018 Day 4. Check out the video below to see some of our favorite moments.

  • Student Team Edible Cold Platter Presentation, Student Team Hot Food and USA Chef of the Year competitions went on throughout the day.
  • The ACF Tradeshow wrapped up its second day of featuring the latest innovations in food, equipment and services. We tasted so many samples.
  • Chef Maneet Chauhan of Chopped gave the day's keynote address on "How Ethnic Food Found Its Place in American Cuisine." Check out our live-streamed videos of all the keynote addresses on the ACF Facebook page
 Chef Maneet Chauhan of Chopped

Chef Maneet Chauhan of Chopped

 Blackbean cakes with kale and aioli

Blackbean cakes with kale and aioli

  • Workshops and demos! There was "Canadian Cuisine: From Coast to Coast" with Peter Dewar of the Canadian Culinary Federation; a pastry certification seminar with Chef John C. Schopp; "Leading The Next Generation" by Chef Gerald Ford; "Five Questions You Should Answer Before you Retire" from financial advisor Adam Kirby of Wells Fargo Advisors; "The Art of Chocolate" with Pastry Chef Jacquelyn Lopez and more.
  • The inaugural Certified Master Chef Dine-Around had a group of eight CMCs sharing bites of amazing dishes, experiences, ideas and wisdom with an intimate group of attendees.
Screen Shot 2018-08-02 at 3.30.06 PM.png
 Tiramisu, strawberry shortcake, black forest cherry cake, mango panna cotta, keylime

Tiramisu, strawberry shortcake, black forest cherry cake, mango panna cotta, keylime

Screen Shot 2018-08-02 at 3.30.22 PM.png
 Silken corn polenta, southern greens, sweet & hot corn relish, tobacco shallots

Silken corn polenta, southern greens, sweet & hot corn relish, tobacco shallots

The inaugural ACF Certified Master Chef® Dine Around took place Wednesday, July 18 during Cook. Craft. Create. A group of CMC®s prepared pan-seared duck breast, beluga lentil and mushroom salad, summer corn puree with avocado crema, beef goulash with dumplings and honey thyme waffle with foie gras-cognac ice cream and MORE!

To do all that, they needed some help. That's where I come in.

Registered convention attendees were able to sign up to stage during the event. Each CMC® will choose one professional and one student to assist him. I applied and was selected by the TWO above CMCs to work on their menus. It was quite an honor!

1B155861-F4B7-484A-BA4B-2629CF747F6B.JPG
B847206C-F62C-4BA2-BBC3-6D4660E039DA.jpg

Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show 2018 went out with a bang. Check out the video below to see some of our favorite moments.

  • The last round of workshops and demos was a huge one! Chef Stefan Ryll talked "The Future of Culinary Education Online"; CMCs Russell Scott and Helmut Holzer shared "The History and Flavors of Goulash"; Chef Shaun O'Neale demonstrated "The Modern American Table" with some squid ink and lobster ravioli; photographer Susan Bourgoin gave a packed seminar on using food photography to increase your bottom line; Chef Amy L. Queret-Mitchell shared her wisdom on "What Excellent Educators do Exceptionally" and so much more.
  • There were book signings and pop-up tastings everywhere.
  • Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto gave the closing keynote address on "Sushi A to Z," deconstructing a huge tuna on stage before an amazed crowd. Check out our live-streamed videos of all the keynote addresses on the ACF Facebook page
  • The President's Grand Ball was an 'ohana-style dinner to remember. There were dancers, award presentations (we'll share all those in next week's issue of The Culinary Insider) and, of course, fabulous food. 
IMG_0229.JPG

That's it for this year's Convention! I had a blast! Hope to see you in Orlando in 2019!

Culinary Institute of America Menus of Change

Culinary Institute of America Menus of Change

ProteinMOC3.jpg

Menus of Change is a ground-breaking initiative developed by The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in collaboration with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—Department of Nutrition.

Together, the CIA and Harvard are working to create a long-term, practical vision for the integration of optimal nutrition and public health, environmental stewardship and restoration, and social responsibility concerns within the foodservice sector and beyond.  

Half of all meals consumed in America today are prepared by culinary professionals. Chefs and culinary leaders are assuming ever larger, more pivotal roles in integrating key imperatives of taste, health, the environment, community, business, and economics.

We’re asking a lot of these chefs and foodservice operators. And in the future, we will ask more:

  • How can we make our most delicious foods healthful and environmentally sustainable?
  • What if America's most talented chefs and today’s culinary students were to collaborate with scientists and business leaders to find business-friendly solutions to our obesity and healthcare crises and food security issues around the globe?
  • How can chefs and restaurateurs work in partnership with nutrition and medical experts, and environmental scientists to help the business community develop new models of innovation—and new, long-term business strategies—around opportunities for the future of food and foodservice?

Menus of Change: The Business of Healthy, Sustainable, Delicious Food Choices is an annual gathering of professionals from a wide range of disciplines involved in these issues—business, culinary arts, sustainability, health and wellness—to spark new insights and develop solutions. 

IMG_3653.JPG
IMG_3654.JPG
Xof0FHR5T0ywvMKTowJoLQ.jpg

ACF ChefConnect: Charlotte

ACF ChefConnect: Charlotte

charlottekeynote.jpg
ACF Logo.png

Charlotte's got a lot! It is a lively city with activities ideal for all ages including dining, shopping, live music, unique nightlife venues, and sports & recreation. Steps away from the Nascar Hall of Fame, Bank of America Stadium. Chefs from across the Northeast and Southeast regions assembled at the Charlotte Westin for several days of learning, collaboration and of course, tasting! Exciting updates for the 2018 Events: the ACF provided blanket CEH's to members that register for the event.

 Hanging out with Chef Stafford DeCambra CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC, ACF National President & Pinky Varghese, CEC, PCII, CFBE

Hanging out with Chef Stafford DeCambra CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC, ACF National President & Pinky Varghese, CEC, PCII, CFBE

acfdc_chefconnect1-789x1024.jpg

Opening General Session

Claus Meyer

IMG_3067.JPG

The opening general session was presented by Claus Meyer, a culinary entrepreneur, food activist, cookbook author, professor and TV host. He is often accredited as the founder of the New Nordic Cuisine philosophy. He discussed his desire to change the Danish cultural relationship with food in a top-down approach to food systems. Notable topics where his manefesto to the New Nordic Cuisine, the power of bread and culminated with the legend of the hummingbird. This idea is the focus on not pursuing a desire to be the best, but rather to make a lasting impact. 

The Future of Action Stations

Chef Ben Simpkins, CEC, CCA

5PxdnZyyQMChV3rljRggTg.jpg
B2LndAYOSmS%ce0MnBC+aw.jpg

General Session

David Burke

fullsizeoutput_280.jpeg

David Burke is an American chef and restaurateur, known for his appearance on the reality TV program Iron Chef America. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a student at Ecole Lenotre Pastry School in Plaisir, France. Burke worked with legendary chefs in France and New York such as Pierre Troisgros, George Blanc, Marc Meneau, Daniel Boulud, Charlie Palmer and Waldy Malouf. Burke’s mastery of French culinary technique and his unique American creativity were confirmed at the age of 26, receiving 3 Stars from the New York Times at The River Café.

His address included a cooking segment featuring clothesline bacon, cake pops, chorizo on a stick, angry lobster, lobster filet mignon and MORE! 

IMG_3069.JPG

Breakout Session: Soulful Harvest

Timothy Grandinetti

gpabiLScSnC4TOjw4tLp7Q.jpg
 Yes! Cast Iron is KING

Yes! Cast Iron is KING

American Academy of Chefs Gala Dinner

Monday, February 26, 2018

fullsizeoutput_27b.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_27c.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_279.jpeg
 Thank you to the Brigade!

Thank you to the Brigade!

 ACF Rhode Island Chapter, Left to Right: Chefs Ray McCue CEC, Linda Musch CCE, AAC, Rolando Robledo CEC & Matthew Thompson CEC, CCA

ACF Rhode Island Chapter, Left to Right: Chefs Ray McCue CEC, Linda Musch CCE, AAC, Rolando Robledo CEC & Matthew Thompson CEC, CCA

Appalachian Cuisne

Denny Trantham, CEC, CCA, AAC, MBA

jBYOPKijQGCl71g+PYPF6Q.jpg
VKk1JCv4TDKj57EVnqOEFw.jpg

Exploring Culinary Communication

Daniel Thomas

%wMH7Cg9RROyeoLyS2JbVQ.jpg

Utilizing World Flavors in your Everyday Menus

Brian Beland, CMC
Jonathan Moosmiller, CMC

XVXHCh1XSHC7QIOtIzJb3A.jpg

Closing General Session

Dean Fearing

IkYcraanQEiOCeveEjydxw.jpg

Dean Fearing is an American chef known as "The Father of Southwestern Cuisine. Dean Fearing was executive chef for 20 years at Dallas' The Mansion on Turtle Creek, leaving in 2007 to start his own restaurant, Fearing's, in partnership with Ritz-Carlton. He is the host of a national television show, Entertaining at Home with Dean Fearing, airing on Food Network, and author of three cookbooks, Mansion on Turtle Creek Cookbook, Dean Fearing's Southwest Cuisine: Blending Asia and the Americas and The Texas Food Bible: From Legendary Dishes to New Classics. In 2008, the Zagat guide gave Fearing's the top spot on its list of the best in hotel dining, simultaneously announcing the Dallas Ritz-Carlton as the U.S.' best large hotel.

His address focused on driving high passion within your team. His philosophy is happy cooks make happy food. When you hire look for candidates who bring high energy and passion. Skills can be taught, attitude must be encountered. When asked, why focus on just one restaurant where others are building empires, he simply said he's focused on doing fewer things really well, than many things with less intimacy. 

acfdc_chefconnect2-789x1024.jpg

AASHE Conference 2017: San Antonio

AASHE Conference 2017: San Antonio

    AASHE 2017 Conference, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio  

 

AASHE 2017 Conference, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio  

 Getting ready for the opening keynote address

Getting ready for the opening keynote address

 Opening keynote: Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

Opening keynote: Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

 Student sustainability project by Mohawk College

Student sustainability project by Mohawk College

 Poster Session by Central Community College on the future of insect protein as a food source. 

Poster Session by Central Community College on the future of insect protein as a food source. 

 Ken Botts from HSUS presents on #PlantsOnThePlate

Ken Botts from HSUS presents on #PlantsOnThePlate

 5 reasons to eat veggies: Plant-Based Diets

5 reasons to eat veggies: Plant-Based Diets

 All meals presented were Plant-Based

All meals presented were Plant-Based

Barilla Modern Casual Summit & Chicago Food Tour

Barilla Modern Casual Summit & Chicago Food Tour

 Barilla Development Kitchen Northbrook, IL

Barilla Development Kitchen
Northbrook, IL

 Chef Lorenzo Boni

Chef Lorenzo Boni

When it comes to pasta, quality is key. With the expert culinary guidance of Chef Lorenzo Boni, Executive Chef for Barilla America, Barilla is dedicated to delivering the highest-quality pasta. That is why Barilla- the leading brand of pasta in Italy -is a favorite of foodservice chefs. Whether serving the needs of restaurants, cafeterias, commissaries, or other foodservice operations, our full line of versatile Barilla products brings excellence to any menu. And today, affordable quality has never been more important. 

Barilla, originally established in 1877 as a bread and pasta shop in Parma, Italy, ranks as one of today's top Italian food groups. Barilla is a leader in the global pasta business, the pasta sauces business in continental Europe, the bakery products business in Italy and the crispbread business in Scandinavia. 

Barilla has become one of the world's most esteemed food companies and is recognized globally as a symbol of Italian know-how by upholding its longstanding traditional principles and values, considering employees as a fundamental asset and developing leading-edge production systems. 

This invite-only retreat is for a select group of chefs to dive into the most current trends in casual dining, with Barilla as the host and anchor point for the content. Featuring hands-on cooking sessions, chefs dive into regional Italian cuisine with Chef Lorenzo Boni and tackle making healthier dining delicious and approachable. We’ll also be joined by renowned speaker and trends guru Gerry Ludwig who will take us on an exclusive tour of the trend-setting restaurants in Chicago. 

Participation ideation session one

 Chefs Jasper, Matthew & Brock

Chefs Jasper, Matthew & Brock

 Parsnip Veggie Mac

Parsnip Veggie Mac

 Asian Fideo Bowl

Asian Fideo Bowl

Chef Gerry Ludwig, CEC

Chef Gerry is a nationally recognized food writer, speaker, and trend tracker, and leads the Culinary R&D department for Gordon Food Service, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Through ongoing analysis of foodservice-related statistical, media and empirical data, Gerry creates trends-based culinary solutions that are executed at the operator level by the company's team of menu consultants. He is a columnist and editorial board member for the foodservice trend magazine Flavor & The Menu, conducts seminars and workshops at numerous industry events and executes resturant research tours in major cities throughout the United States. 

Gerry Ludwig (@GFSChefGerry) | Twitter

The latest Tweets from Gerry Ludwig (@GFSChefGerry). Representing Gordon Food Service through culinary research and development, restaurant trend tracking, food writing and public speaking

 

The Little Goat

Stephanie Izard's diner serving a huge menu of creative, gourmet takes on comfort food classics.
Address: 820 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

 

Latinicity 

Sprawling, stylish food hall featuring a range of Latin-inspired eateries & a market in lofty digs.
Address: 108 N State Street, 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL 60602

 

de Quay Resturant

Dishes mixing Dutch and Indonesian influences plus craft brews & global wines in intimate digs.
Address: 2470 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

 

Split-Rail Restaurant

Updated American comfort foods & craft cocktails are offered in a funky space with a vintage vibe.
Address: 2500 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

 

Moneygun & Saint Lou's Assembly

Hip, understated bar serving traditional cocktails, plus creative New American small plates.
Address: 660 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60661

American spot for creative takes on old-school, customizable comfort-food platters.
Address: 664 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60661

 

El Che Bar

Wood-fired Argentinean-American fare & South American cocktails doled out in hip, stylish surrounds.
Address: 845 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607

 

...and in case you were wondering what my Fitbit had to say about all these shennanigans:

fullsizeoutput_115.jpeg

Matunuck Oyster Farm Tour

Matunuck Oyster Farm Tour

Acfri-e1485987791505.jpg
Matunuck-Oyster-Bar-3.png

The September ACF Rhode Island Chapter meeting was hosted by Matunuck Oyster Bar. We participated in a boat tour of the oyster farm operation, followed by dinner in the restaurant. Perry Raso, Owner of Matunuck Oyster Bar & Farm was a gracious host. It was a great kickoff to a new year! 

IMG_2150.JPG

Fresh Food Company Training

Fresh Food Company Training

The Fresh Food Company has transformed the dining experience at campuses across the country, earning superior customer satisfaction scores and unparalleled praise from our clients since we opened our first location. We hosted the Summer 2017 Fresh Food Company Training on August 1 – 2 at Southern Methodist University

This intense and highly interactive two-day training combines classroom and hands-on experience to equip attendees to optimally operate our Fresh Food Company brand.  The class taught methods and systems for creativity to assist in the consistent execution of the Fresh Food Company menu, providing the skills and resources needed to elevate our dining program to the next level in food and customer service and will address the key expectation that the consumer experience at our Fresh Food Company locations exceeds those anywhere else in Higher Education.

Thank you to the team at Southern Methodist University for their hospitality and to Chef Ben Hernandez, for leading this session.  

Pulse Workshop

Pulse Workshop

Aramark Chefs were joined by representatives from the US Dry Pea and Pulse Council for an introduction session to incorporate Pulses into more of our recipes. Tim McGreevy, CEO at USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, Jessie Hunter, and Alexei Rudolf are here to share knowledge and insights about these powerful plant forward ingredients, and Christine Farkas and our own Scott Zahren will talk and let us taste samples from their experiences cooking with all types of pulses during the Pulses of Change workshop earlier in April.

Dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas— known as pulse or legume crops—are among the world’s most ancient commodities. Archeologists have discovered peas in caves in what is present day Thailand that date back more than 11,000 years. The royal Egyptian tombs contained lentils, which were meant to sustain the dead on their journey to the afterlife. In the Christian Bible, Esau sold his birthright for a pottage of lentils. And, in Italy, the names for peas (Pisum sp.), lentils (Lens culinaris), and chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) found their way into the names of the prominent Roman families of Piso, Lentulus, and Cicero. According to Italian writer and Academic Umberto Eco, it may even be true that peas, beans, and lentils actually saved Western Civilization during the Early Middle Ages (476 to 1000 AD). It is well documented that the introduction of pulses into crop rotation practices resulted not only in increased farm productivity, but also in improved protein content and a more diverse and nutritional diet for the populace. The development is credited with saving generations of people from malnutrition and helping facilitate the repopulation of Europe after the Black Plague pandemic of the late 1340s.

  Tim McGreevy , CEO at USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council

Tim McGreevy, CEO at USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council

Perhaps in recognition of legumes’ extraordinary qualities, many cultures have developed a range of traditions in which the eating of peas and lentils figure prominently. Among the most notable is No Ruz, the New Year’s celebration in Iran. During this 13-day celebration, every house maintains a table known as the “seven S’s,” which includes seven symbolic objects beginning with the letter S. Germinating lentil seeds, known as sabzi, hold the place of honor in the center of the table to symbolize renewal and rebirth. For hundreds of years, the people of northern Italy have enjoyed their own New Year’s tradition called Capo d’Anno (literally “head of the year”) in which lentils, symbolizing coins, are eaten to ensure good fortune for the year ahead. Consuming these “coins” is thought to make wealth and prosperity part of one’s blood and being. Eating lentils, rather than more exotic or expensive foods, is also considered an act of humility to both heaven and society, and a means for averting the sin of pride.

 Chef Tim Zintz and Chef Scott Zahren culinary demo on Whipped Potato & White Bean

Chef Tim Zintz and Chef Scott Zahren culinary demo on Whipped Potato & White Bean

Over time, the United States has seen much of its own rich tradition of eating legumes replaced by a preference for fast food and microwavable meals. Fortunately, Americans are starting to rediscover these overlooked ingredients. Nutritionists have, for example, begun pointing to the legume rich diets of the Mediterranean as one possible route to improved health. The media, meanwhile, is increasingly touting the benefits of the nutritional attributes and phytochemicals found in legumes. Recent research shows that the antioxidants, flavonoids, plant estrogens, vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber in legumes can help prevent, and may even contribute to, the reversal of many major chronic diseases. Add these health benefits to their delicious flavor and incredible culinary versatility and it is little wonder that Americans are once again finding a place for peas, lentils, and chickpeas in their diets and on their dining
room tables. 

Chefs jumped in the kitchen to create recipes. Here are some of the creations:

Fresh Food Company Training

Fresh Food Company Training

The Fresh Food Company has transformed the dining experience at campuses across the country, earning superior customer satisfaction scores and unparalleled praise from our clients since we opened our first location. We hosted the Summer 2017 Fresh Food Company Training on July 11th – 12th  at James Madison University.

This intense and highly interactive two-day training combines classroom and hands-on experience to equip attendees to optimally operate our Fresh Food Company brand.  The class taught methods and systems for creativity to assist in the consistent execution of the Fresh Food Company menu, providing the skills and resources needed to elevate our dining program to the next level in food and customer service and will address the key expectation that the consumer experience at our Fresh Food Company locations exceeds those anywhere else in Higher Education.

Thank you to the team at James Madison University for their hospitality and to Jason Forrest, Regional Culinary Director, for leading this session.  

 Tony Johnson teaches the segment on Service Excellence

Tony Johnson teaches the segment on Service Excellence

So stoked to be part of the #FreshFoodCompany training video. #WereReadyForOurCloseUp 😎

A post shared by JMU Dining Services (@jmudining) on

Preservice Team Huddle, Filmed by Denis Robichaud Design

 Fresh Food Company Training, JMU Class of 2017

Fresh Food Company Training, JMU Class of 2017