Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's A Wrap - Some of What You Missed or More of What You Long For

Charlie Rose, host of “The Charlie Rose Show” and keynote speaker of this year’s National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, noted that restaurants are key meeting places for Americans’ most important conversations and experiences. 

Fittingly, the foodservice industry’s largest annual gathering once again brought operators together to learn how to serve their businesses and their customers better.

Throughout the four-day conference held at Chicago’s McCormick Place, industry advocates and operators stressed the importance of being proactive in the face of a business climate complicated by such things as the fledgling economic recovery, social media, growing government regulation and changing culinary trends...

CLICK HERE To read the whole kit and caboodle...(And don't forget to catch the comprehensive wrap-up section in the June 7 issue of Nation's Restaurant News.)
                                                                                               -- Mark Brandau -- 

Charlie Rose and Chicago chef-restaurateur Rick Bayless

Better Than 'Going for the Gold?'

Winning it. 

Villanova's Timothy J. Dietzler last night was presented the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association Gold Plate during a reception at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers.

Dietzler, center, is shown receiving the award from Norb Mayrhofer, left, IFMA chairman and vice president, global, for Procter & Gamble Professional, and Larry Oberkfell, right, IFMA president and chief exec.

Our Elissa Elan was all over the event and filed a report that can be read at NRN.com by Clicking Here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Using His Head, Feet, Tail...

Chicago chef-restaurateur Rob Levitt, of Mado, on Sunday demonstrated techniques for butchering a whole pig. Levitt recently staged a series of butchering demonstrations at his North Milwaukee Avenue eatery. Attendees paid $50 each but went home with a sampling of pork cuts. An advocate of using the whole animal, his current menu includes marinated pork tongue, spicy pig head stew and wood-grilled beef heart. Levitt is one of a number of younger chefs who know their way around a carcass, including last year's NRA Show guest dissector, San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino.

Producing in School

Jeffrey McClure of Sodexo discusses using more fresh produce in school meals at the National Restaurant Association’s World Culinary Showcase, a cooking pavilion at the show that will be featuring more demonstrations today and tomorrow.
                                                 -- Bret Thorn at bthorn@nrn.com --

The respect tip

The respect tip is bigger than the flirtatious tip, according to Mark Hanby, director of franchise development for The Tilted Kilt, a Scottish-Irish-English-themed pub and sports bar based in Tempe, Ariz.

He’s the gentleman in the picture, flanked by Lauren Muscolino (left) and Heather Green, two servers at a local unit of the five-year-old chain.

There are currently 34 Tilted Kilts scattered across the country, with another 40 under development (land procured, ink on the leases dry), 11 of which are physically under construction as I write this.

Hanby talked a bit about the difference between his restaurant and some others that encourage more flirtation from their servers, like Hooters.

The Tilted Kilt has an older demographic, with many of their customers old enough to be the fathers of the servers, and Hanby discourages his servers from flirting with them.

He says the servers make more money by giving good service and being respectful.

I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but Hanby says the average Tilted Kilt server makes more than 30 percent in tips.

-- Bret Thorn at bthorn@nrn.com.

Author: No Kidding - Healthier Foods for Children a Serious Matter

The list of restaurant chains offering healthier kids meals is growing, but there’s still a lot of work to be done, according to Pam Smith, a registered dietitian and founder of Shaping America’s Health in Orlando, Fla.
Smith, a panelist during Sunday’s session “The New Kids Meals: Kid Tested, Nutritionist Approved,” pointed toward such chains as Legal Sea Foods and Red Lobster as moving in the right direction where child nutrition is concerned.
“The list [of chains offering healthier kids meals] is definitely growing,” she said. “There are a lot more restaurants that are looking at it and trying … , but I don’t think there’s a single one out there that would say they’ve got it [exactly] right.”
Smith cited Legal Sea Foods’ baked cod fingers and vegetables and Red Lobster’s kids’ crab meal served with a bib and junior seafood fork as two winning programs.
She noted, however, that she is pleased to see that restaurants are making more progress on the kid nutrition front, and remains optimistic about the future.
“I can see that a lot more of them are working towards trying not only to be innovative, but also do the right thing,” she said. “It’s right for business and key for them to do.”
Asked what she hopes to see within five years, Smith said she’d like to see healthy options available to kids on all menus across the country.               -- Elissa Elan -- 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Drinking up show reconnaissance...

Observations from Sunday’s show floor:

Beverages are big. Lots of cool machines, some using touch-screen technology, to let restaurateurs and/or customers customize their own drinks. You want to dial up the espresso and down the milk in your latte? No problem. Tried delicious fruit drinks, sodas, flavored ices and smoothies. Come to think of it, food was harder to come by.

Best one-liner: Charlie Rose after showing a clip of Julia Child. “She does Julia Child almost as well as Meryl Streep.”

And attendees are growing weary. Several folks were sitting with their shoes off at day’s end, looking like they might not move, bags full of bounty at their sides. Clearly what they need is to get back to the booths and find more caffeine.       -- Robin Lee Allen --