They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and that was certainly true for the seventh annual FARE conference. Held June 16-18 at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas, the conference was bursting at the seams with more than 1,000 attendees, dozens of great speakers, a culinary competition and an exceptional expo. Soak up our coverage of the event in the following pages, and then check out our photo album.
Delicious Competition: C-store retailer, hospital chef sink their teeth into FARE contest
Competing against All-Pro running back Herschel Walker is enough to make anyone sweat, but contestants in the second annual FARE Culinary Competition also had to face hundreds of onlookers and the pressure of their peers.
The final dishes exemplified the culinary creativity that happens when operators from across the foodservice channels team up to vie for best in show.
The winning dish: a torta-style burger, from Ben Lucky, director of foodservice for Sprint Food Stores, August, Ga.; and Pete Torres, executive chef at the Dallas Medical Center (pictured). It featured a chorizo and Italian sausage patty topped with pulled pork, caramelized onions in a chipotle raspberry sauce, micro greens, chicken-skin “chicharrones” and a garlic-Parmesan chimichurri. It was served with mesquite-flavored tortilla chips and grilled pineapple.
Culinary Competition contestant Walker paused between chopping and tossing to shake hands and pose for photos with attendees. Walker’s teammate Katzie Guy-Hamilton—a culinary great herself, having appeared on “Top Chef, Just Desserts” and recently named one of Dessert Professional magazine’s Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America for 2014—remained beyond cool under the pressure of the extra spotlight.
Participants were given 60 minutes to prepare, package and serve an original, innovative on-the-go style meal item. They were judged on a 10-point scale in four categories, each weighted equally: taste, creativity and innovation, presentation and—a true FARE twist—portability/ convenience. Dishes could be considered grab and go or made to order, and travel well for later consumption or be easily eaten quickly or on the go.
To create their dishes, teams had to use at least one product from sponsor companies Arcobasso Foods and McCormick for Chefs. They also had to use at least one protein from either Pierce Chicken/Pilgrims Pride or the National Pork Board. Teams would receive an extra point if they used a protein from each sponsor—which each overachieving team did.
Each team’s station was manned by a shiny new Ovention oven, which they had to use in at least one application. Gloves were provided by sponsor FoodHandler.
Other participants and teams:
▶ Guy-Hamilton, director of food and beverage, Max Brenner, New York; and Walker, foodservice entrepreneur and All-Pro running back. Dish: Toasted pork, chicken and apple hash flatbread, served with a Parmesan-honey sauce.
▶ Edward Rodriguez, senior kitchen manager, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; and Andy Wittman, culinary operations manager, Pizza Inn/ Pie Five Pizza Co., The Colony, Texas. Dish: Brown-sugar cured pork with caramelized onions, vegetable slaw and a raspberry-chipotle sauce on toasted focaccia, served with a rice ball stuffed with chicken and mozzarella and topped with garlic Parmesan sauce.
▶ Jason Beecher, culinary manager, product development, for Wawa, Wawa, Pa.; and Paul Glassman, food & beverage director, Five Star Senior Living, Dallas. Dish: Mesquite chicken flatbread sandwich with caramelized onions, spicy chipotle and chorizo, greens and roasted bell peppers tossed with balsamic glaze, all topped with a fried egg.
The Culinary Competition judges included:
▶ Pat Cobe, senior editor, Restaurant Business magazine, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
▶ Andrew Franco, executive chef, Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Canastota, N.Y., and 2013 FARE Culinary Competition Winner
▶ Darrick Henry, dietary director/ chef, Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington, Texas
▶ Dan Phalen, corporate executive chef, Luby’s Fuddrucker’s, Houston
▶ Laurence Shiner, executive chef, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Ill., and 2013 FARE Culinary Competition Winner.
CONTINUED: Leaders in Foodservice Awards
Secrets of Success: 2014 FARE award winners discuss their concepts, motivations
“Success is never final,” said Lon Southerland of Marriott International. But for one afternoon, he and three other industry professionals were honored as Leaders in Foodservice (awards presented by Tyson Foods) for their innovative and, in some cases, aggressive takes on reaching consumers’ palates.
Vice president of sales and marketing Joe Hamza (pictured), working with CEO Peter Tedeschi and the rest of the c-store chain’s leadership, has helped develop a highly regarded foodservice program. Twenty-one of the chain’s c-stores feature full-blown delis that make sandwiches and salads to order. Other stores are served by the chain’s own commissary. Grab-and-go offerings range from a classic club sandwich to heat-and-eat Indian entrees.
“It’s no longer enough to be a convenient location; you really have to do the things that make you a destination location,” said Tedeschi.
Hamza took it even further: “It’s been very difficult to change the perception of convenience stores. We’ve made an enormous investment in our stores to improve both internal and external branding so they can house these new foods and new trends.”
Kennesaw State University
Under Gary Coltek, senior director/chef de cuisine of Culinary & Hospitality Services, Kennesaw State University’s dining department has created a program that upstages many others, especially when it comes to sustainability. It’s the program’s backbone, from a closed-loop waste-management system to using product from three campus farms. And a new culinary sustainability and hospitality academic program has been created.
“We’ve seen a reduction in pre- and post-consumer food waste,” Coltek said, “daily saving 3,000 gallons of waters, diversion of waste from landfills, reduction of annual composting, diversion of cooking oil and increased participation of socially responsible behavior on campus.”
Subway’s game-changing marketing, nonstop menu development, early focus on nutrition, operational nimbleness and aggressive activity in nontraditional channels have had a remarkable influence on the entire foodservice industry.
Perhaps most impressive is the company’s sheer reach, with more than 41,000 units in more than 100 countries today. Many locations are found in unlikely places, such as a church that uses the franchise to teach job skills to local residents in need and the Subway shop that rose alongside the Freedom Tower in New York to feed busy construction workers.
“We’re in everything from airports to zoos—the A to Z of nontraditional locations,” said Don Fertman, chief development officer. “And it’s a great niche for us because we are very flexible and we can fit into just about any space. Give us 300 square feet and we’re there.”
When Marriott set out to remodel the lobby of its Courtyard brand, it learned that most guests were skipping the traditional buffet in search of something quicker and more modern. The resulting remodel changed the entire Courtyard experience—how guests interacted with staff members and each other and made the most of their stay.
The concept centers on the Bistro Eat. Drink. Connect., a fast-casual concept offering meals, snacks, adult beverages and a complete coffee menu. Considered the fastest-growing fast-casual concept, the Bistro has opened nearly 800 locations internationally since 2007.
“I think that really tells a lot,” said Southerland, senior director of global food and beverage. “Over the 2008 time frame, when the economy was having some difficulty, we were able to really able to ramp it up and be poised for when the economy turned around, which is exactly what happened.”
CONTINUED: 13 Foodservice Trends
The Baker’s Dozen: 13 foodservice trends that are ‘changing your business for good’
“It’s a consumer’s world. We’re just living in it.”
When you look at it that way, it’s easy and exciting to digest—pun not intended—the 13 overarching trends in foodservice offered in the opening general session of FARE 2014.
Leading attendees through the trends were CSP Business Media’s Kay Segal, senior vice president of trade relations and conference education; and Abbie Westra, editor in chief of Convenience Store Products magazine. “The bottom line is that we all look to satisfy thirst and hunger,” Segal said. And here are the trends affecting those satisfying moments:
- The growth in off-premise foodservice sales is staggering. Seven in 10 foodservice purchases today are consumed off-premise, according to the National Restaurant Association. That’s a complete flip from how meals were consumed 50 years ago, Westra said.
- Immediate consumption is on the rise. This seismic shift is evident in the fact that 15% of meals purchased are consumed within one hour of that purchase. “Consumers expect convenient yet high-quality foods around every corner,” Westra said. “How do you capitalize on that?” Food items that are portable, include all utensils and cater to the nature of immediate consumption may lure in those consumers.
- Half of all eating occasions are snacks, according to The Hartman Group, but only 6% of those snacks come from foodservice. Most healthy snacks are consumed earlier in the day, when folks have more willpower. Can you promote smaller portions as snacks? Could you bundle a sandwich with a snack for later in the day?
- Forty-seven percent of all eating occasions consist of a single person eating alone. According to the U.S. Census, only 51% of adults are married. Can you lure that singleton with customizable meals?
- There’s a huge generational divergence in baby boomers vs. millennials. For example, restaurant visits by millennials have decreased 6% since 2008; baby boomers’ increased by that same amount. In 16 years, millennials will outnumber non-millennials. How can you appeal to both? They’re equally focused on wellness. Which brings us to …
- The rise of mindful eating: Nearly three-fifths of consumers “think a lot” about the healthfulness of their foods and beverages, according to the International Food Information Council. And functional foods are something that consumers want, especially in our frantic society. Can you give them a protein boost?
- Three in four consumers purchase organic foods, according to The Hartman Group; sales are now $3.5 billion a year. “Organic took off when its positioning changed from ‘Save the planet’ to ‘Save yourselves,’ ” Segal said.
- Consumers now take the time to treat themselves with items such as a $4 Starbucks drink or $6 cold-pressed juice, Westra said; luxury no longer merely refers to rich people. How can you fulfill that need for indulgence?
- More than 50% of consumers say it’s important for restaurants to integrate technology into their ordering capabilities, according to Technomic. Mobile ordering and touch-screen interfaces in restaurants are what consumers demand, especially when it comes to customization. Focus on what your operation and yours alone can offer to consumers.
- The influence of e-commerce: Do you subscribe to services such as nibblr or Birchbox? Do you know about New York-based Melissa’s Cupcakes? If you’ve never been there, no worries: Just sign up for the Mini of the Month club, and cupcakes will show up at your doorstep like clockwork.
- “The breakfast scramble” and you: Burger King has burgers for breakfast, McDonald’s is offering breakfast at all hours of the day, and Taco Bell is now a breakfast player. Who will win? Again, it’s the consumer. “It’s all about freedom of choice,” Westra said, “and consumers have always had the upper hand.”
- The flavor forecast calls for “big, bold, authentic”: In the past 12 months, there has been a 12% increase in the term “hot sauce” showing up on all foodservice menus, according to Food Genius. It’s a generational common ground: Millennials like adventurous flavors, and boomers need more spice as their taste buds dull.
- You have to stand for something. Value is no longer merely about price. It’s about social responsibility, transparency and interaction. Sixty-three percent of consumers say they’re more likely to visit an operation if it’s socially conscious.
President George W. Bush offered FARE attendees insight on a number of issues, including international relations, the legacy of the 9/11 attacks on U.S. soil and his charity work overseas. Serious in his messages but never failing to lighten the mood, President Bush exuded a relaxed but determined air while discussing some of the pivotal decisions of his presidency.