Food Management Digizine - Q3 2023

SDSU Dining goes old school… way old school with Menu Azteca

Vintage FM

Challenges & Solutions Current vibe check for k-12, college foodservice worlds

Time traveling magazine treasures


c o n t e n t s

Letter from the editor

Tara Fitzpatrick

Senior Executive Editor, The Restaurant & Food Group

4 Trendy ingredient alert: Is sorghum the next “it” grain? SDSU Dining goes old school… way old school with Menu Azteca 6



Watch with Food Management


PODCASTS: FM On Demand with Tara Fitzpatrick

Photos and preview of SDSU’s historic new concept, Menu Azteca


14 3 key trends shaping senior living dining Best in Show Featured Videos 12

18 College foodservice looks to balance new and traditional 16 K-12 foodservice deals with rising food and labor costs


Life Time Foundation Launches Groundbreaking Solution to Support Healthier School

Meals Nationwide 20

28 Menu items from Best Concepts Best of Show winner Central Table Eatery

Aramark Student Nutrition turns student feedback into menu

innovation for 2023-24 22

Food Management: A look back over the

last 50 years 23 Table Eatery 28

Menu items from Best Concepts Best of Show winner Central

31 FM’s Great Rise & Shine 30 Fresh K12 Podcasts from Served

34 Great Spaces with Food Management 32 A photo tour of Citi’s Tampa Bay Kitchen Company food hall



Sustainability is on healthcare chef Nazim Khan’s mind a lot. Khan, executive chef at Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Neb., collaborates with local farmers all year long. And quite often, he goes global: Teaching, competing and advocating for the health of the planet as a chef and citizen of the world. Just recently, he shared with us his take on what will be the next trend-with-consequences: Sorghum. Harvested in the fall, sorghum uses less water than many other crops, takes carbon dioxide from the air like a champ and can be used to make bio-fuels. And for the protein-lovers, sorghum has double the protein of quinoa. “Food makes people happy; food is medicine and food brings the community together,” Khan says. “As a chef running a sustainable operation, we need to focus on less waste, right portioned, non- GMO and nutritionally balanced menu for our guests and family. Sorghum is a nutrient-packed grain with tons of vitamins and it’s an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants and protein.” Khan’s advice for cooking sorghum? “It’s a hard grain, so you need to cook it for a long time. It’s easy to replace rice or quinoa with whole sorghum in most recipes.”

Pumpkin sorghum protein pancakes

Sorghum lettuce cups

Healthcare isn’t the only segment getting hip to the ‘ghum. Here’s a special Sorghum in Schools video from the Sorghum Checkoff:

Popped sorghum peanut butter balls

Crunchy sorghum caramel apples

Photo credits: The Sorghum Checkoff




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See highlights from a blind student tasting at South Dearborn Community Schools in Indiana.

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SDSU Dining goes old school… WAY OLD SCHOOL with Menu Azteca The menu items at this fascinating, time-traveling new concept are intended to honor and celebrate Aztec culture, in collaboration with San Diego State University’s Aztec Identity Initiative.

Tara Fitzpatrick


San Diego State University’s mascot goes beyond team merch and school spirit. Centuries beyond. A cool new historically accurate/inspired concept, Menu Azteca, just opened in the Snapdragon Stadium. The menu items are authentic to or inspired by indigenous Mexica people (aka Aztecs) and the ancestral locations of the greater Aztec Empire. Led by Executive Chef Tiago Battastini, the SDSU Dining team has created a wow- worthy, history lesson of a menu, including Tamal Azteca, which uses only ingredients that would’ve been accessible to the Aztecs prior to European contact: Corn tamal, mole negro, roasted poblano and nopalitos slaw; Capulines Azteca is “Aztec- inspired,” with toasted grasshoppers from the Oaxaca region; and Chocolatl Azteca:

a fiery-sweet chocolate-chili

truffle, a treat that raises a toast to the Aztecs’ iconic version of hot cocoa. “Aztec Authentic” items are identified on the menu with a corn icon from the Aztec sun-center (calendar), while “Aztec- Inspired” items are identified with a nopal (cactus) icon. SDSU chefs Jose Mendoza and Enrique Hernandez (executive chef at the stadium) worked closely with Aztec Identity Initiative Chair Ramona Perez, an anthropologist, to make the menu “about respect and honoring of our identity.”


The team traveled to Mexico for maximum authenticity and thoughtfulness toward people, foodways and culture.

“I feel fortunate for the opportunity to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico, and have a real immersive experience in the authentic traditional Mexican cuisine and pre-contact cuisine; the quality of ingredients and cooking methods are unique from that region and what makes all that delicious food memorable is the people from Oaxaca, the love and pride for the cuisine is part of who they are and is a tradition that is passed from generations. It is very exciting for us at SDSU to bring some of the recipes back to our community, not only to share the love and taste that those foods bring to people when enjoying but also as a form to preserve and celebrate its rich and wonderful culture in the form of food.” “I feel fortunate for the Oaxaca, Mexico, OPPORTUNITY TO TRAVEL TO and have a real immersive experience in the authentic traditional Mexican cuisine.”



Looking to be inspired... or have a good laugh? Check out the selections below to see what’s trending in digital media across the industry.

Chef Robert Irvine judges Battle of the Dining Halls 5 Boroughs hosted by Columbia Dining

Native American heritage (including food) is highlighted at University of Houston with Chartwells Higher Ed team

Students get easy Grubhub shortcuts to order food from campus concepts at Lehigh University

Byte Technology’s Fresh Food Vending smart fridges succeed at California Pacific Medical Center

Menu Azteca is a historically fascinating new concept at San Diego State University’s stadium.


FM On Demand with Tara Fitzpatrick

FM’s podcast has hosted some amazing guests lately! You may have missed these episodes with a little something for everyone.


Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) Medical Campus’ Senior Area Executive Chef Amy Foote is harnessing the healing powers of Alaska’s indigenous flora, fauna and wisdom. Resourceful Alaska healthcare chef forges new frontiers in wellness

33 min

FM Healthcare Recipe Contest Winner Trula Hepner taps into healing powers of porchetta

HHS Director of Culinary and Nutrition Services Trula Hepner creates menus that really nourish at Havasu Regional Medical Center.

30 min

Ingenious Culinary Concepts takes school lunchrooms from ‘blah’ to welcoming, fun and bound to get kids hyped up. Kern Halls, owner and founder, lends us some inspiration for back to school with a fresh new attitude. K-12 cafeteria whisperer Kern Halls talks design, participation and more

20 min


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Here’s an even closer look at some winners of this year’s Best Concepts, so let’s get virtual and experience a bit of what sparks that unmistakable culture of excellence in onsite foodservice.

Best of Show Winner: Central Table food hall at Lancaster General Hospital by Morrison Healthcare

Best Station Concept Winner: Future 50 Foods from Sodexo at George Mason University

Best Special Event Winner: Loyola University featuring recipes created by dietetic students using products from woman-and minority-owned businesses

Best Sustainability Concept winner: Seaweed-ish Meatballs at Boston College from North Coast Seafoods


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Roger Least Corporate Dining Director at Brightview Senior Living

One of our readers shares his real-world insights on what’s making senior dining tick these days and into the future.

State of the industry: Two years post-COVID vaccine rollout, our dining rooms are as busy and bustling as ever.- We know through research that food and community go hand-in-hand: the more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives (University of Oxford). Thus, from an overall health and socialization standpoint, the senior living dining experience is more crucial than ever. Based on what our team of 1500+ dining associates is experiencing on a daily basis, here are the three senior living dining trends we’re seeing shift the industry: 1. You’re Invited: Introducing a reservation system: We learned of the dangers of isolation during quarantine due to COVID-19. In fact, social isolation was associated with about a 50 percent increased risk of dementia, according to the CDC. Meals, particularly dinner, are often the highlight of our residents’ day. To make dining an even more enjoyable social event, we have implemented a reservation system to encourage our residents to secure their table in advance and invite their friends to join them, We’re rolling this program out as needed in some of our communities, and so far, the response has been incredibly positive.

The much-buzzed-about “Silver Tsunami” poses major opportunities for the senior living industry in the future. In 2022, the U.S. assisted living market size was valued at $91.8B and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 5.53 percent from 2023 to 2030. From a population standpoint, according to the United States Census Bureau, the 75-84 age group made up roughly 14.3 million (29 percent) of the senior population in 2016, which is more than double the number and proportion (6.3 million or 13 percent) of those 85 and older. Around 27 percent of the population is between the ages of 75 and 84. In short, the senior living Industry is positioned for notable growth as we prepare to welcome the Baby Boomer generation into our communities. With this generation comes a shift in thinking, consumption, and lifestyle, compared to the previous Silent generation, and the senior living industry must be ready. As the Corporate Dining Director at Brightview Senior Living, I oversee the entire dining experience at all 46 communities in eight states. I work with my teams who are cooking in the kitchen and serving in the dining rooms to ensure we’re providing the very best to our residents, balancing nostalgic favorites with nutrient-dense options to optimize their nutrition and overall health.


2. Composting and the quest to reduce food waste: Beyond the economic benefits of eliminating food waste – as food prices continue to skyrocket – our communities are implementing composting to promote sustainability. Composting has many benefits to both our residents and the greater communities where we operate: it nourishes our soil, prompts seasonal gardening for our residents, encourages our residents to spend more time outdoors, and sparks conservation. This initiative is a low-cost, high-value way to promote smarter consumption, a win-win for all. 3. Accommodating adventurous eaters and dietary preferences: While the Silent generation mostly requests meat and potatoes for their meals – we’re seeing Boomers step outside this norm for their meal options. This includes a balance of seasonal foods, and providing the option to try new cuisines. We’re projecting to incorporate more gluten-free, vegetarian, and Mediterranean diet options in the coming years.

What makes Brightview unique is that all 46 communities have different menus; our dining directors create menus based on the residents they serve. It’s a personal experience and completely custom. For example, Brightview West End, our community just outside of Washington, D.C., has a trained sushi chef on staff, while in our New York communities, a Reuben on thick-cut rye bread and clam chowder are highly-requested favorites. To take this even further, some of our Vibrant Living Directors have established restaurant clubs for residents – where they make reservations at local restaurants offering varied, authentic cuisine to promote trying new foods and getting out and about in the communities. The senior living dining experience is more than preparing three meals a day: it’s breaking bread, connecting with others, and providing a hospitality experience for our residents. As we welcome the next generation into our communities, we look forward to learning from them and catering to their needs - while maybe even getting them to try something new along the way.



Mike Buzalka

The school nutrition community faces a year of operational and financial challenges.

With pandemic-era universal federal school meal subsidies ending a year ago, the school nutrition community faced a challenging return to pre-COVID policies over the past year, which resulted in significant reductions in school meal participation in 2022-23 (as well as significant enrollment drops). Although a handful of states have passed legislation that brings universal free meal policies back within their borders, most of the country’s public school districts will still be operating this coming school year under the resumed free/reduced price meal format for eligible students that was implemented when federal emergency universal meal subsidies expired in June 2022. Except for schools and districts that meet the standard to qualify for Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) status, that means a return to all the administrative paperwork and cajoling of families to fill out the paperwork that increasingly frustrated school meal programs before COVID intervened. Now, the pressure is even greater as many districts struggle to find sufficient staffing and enough reasonably priced products to meet federal school meal standards for qualifying meals. Labor availability and cost promise to be enduring issues in the school nutrition world for the foreseeable future, with smaller rural districts especially struggling. Already this past year, there were reports of schools having to close lunchrooms because not enough staff showed up to prepare and serve the food. In the face of this challenge, some districts have resorted to strategies like engaging or even hiring students to fill basic roles, tapping local culinary school students or recruiting staff from other departments—including teachers and administrators—to help out in the cafeteria. Labor costs are also rising as the competition for the available workers from other markets intensifies. Meanwhile, unions are turning up the heat on contract renegotiation, demanding significant rises in pay for their members.

Then there’s what’s being served. The COVID period saw significant shortages of some basic products, and while much of this has since been addressed, spot outages still occur, frustrating procurement plans and forcing menu cycles to be more flexible and the number of available options to be reduced. The school nutrition community prior to COVID had slowly been moving toward more of a scratch cook/fresh food approach both to promote healthier eating and to entice more participation and customer satisfaction. That goal is now being compromised by both the cost of ingredients and the dearth of staff needed to prepare such meals. On the plus side, procurement from local sources has continued to increase, driven by public subsidies and the sheer necessity to secure sufficient stock from whatever source. While in much of the country the prime agricultural season runs counter to the school year, this obstacle has not impeded efforts to work with area farmers to whatever extent possible. Of course, categories like dairy and meat are less affected by seasons and the traditional holiday break does mitigate the need for fresh product in the deadest part of winter. An offshoot of the local sourcing trend is the proliferation of school gardens and even small school farms tended by students with guidance from staff and outside professionals. In some rural districts, students have even raised animals destined to be used to supply meat for the school kitchen, efforts that combine operational practicality with a learning opportunity. Finances make the K-12 market perhaps the toughest to penetrate by high-tech solutions that are otherwise expanding in other sectors of the onsite dining world. Nevertheless, online menus have become fairly common and may open the way to some kind of practical pre-order system for K-12 meal programs.



Mike Buzalka

Accommodating the tech-forward trends COVID accelerated threatens to undermine campus dining’s traditional community-building mission.

The newly renovated (and FM Best Concept Award-winning) Selleck Food Court on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) perfectly illustrates the balancing act many campus dining programs face in the post-COVID world. On the one hand, the pandemic accelerated the proliferation of online ordering and other impersonal technologies that delivered safety and convenience but also promoted isolation, to the point that when campuses began welcoming back students, they found that their customers had gotten too used to the convenience tech was offering to go back to pre-pandemic practices. In fact, some programs that had intended to eliminate the pre-ordered to-go option offered during the emergency from traditional dining halls found they had to backpedal and retain it in at least some form. That poses a dilemma, because one of the traditional roles of campus dining has been to promote campus community by providing communal socializing opportunities over food and drink, something hard to do when customers are remote ordering and only show up to grab their order and leave (or get it delivered by a robot, so they don’t even have to show up at the point of service or interact with any other human being). Which brings us back to UNL and Selleck Food Court, which has sought to balance modern tech convenience (and operational efficiency) with community building by making the venue a collection of ghost kitchens that take only remote orders and offer extreme customization, but then opening up the dining areas to all comers, whether they are there to eat or not. The intention is to make Selleck a community space where students can come any time just to hang out, study, meet friends or make new ones (which is also why it offers no automated pickup lockers, meaning customers have to engage in face-to-face interaction with staff to pick up their orders).

This tech vs. tradition dichotomy promises to challenge campus dining programs for the foreseeable future. The past year has also seen a number of major—and many minor—dining venues opening on campuses as schools position themselves to attract what is a shrinking college- age (and perhaps even faster shrinking college-bound) population, with a number of these being conversions of traditional residential dining halls into retail food courts or food halls complete with mobile order service. Proliferating even faster are high-tech service outlets ranging from smart fridges, robotic fresh-food kiosks and vending machines serving customized pizzas, burgers and salads to unmanned c-stores and even full-fledged campus grocery stores utilizing Amazon Just Walk Out or similar technologies. Driving all this is not only customer demand but economic necessity as campus dining programs continue to struggle with the cost and availability of labor. While colleges generally don’t face as dire a worker shortage as some other markets like K-12 and senior dining, the situation does threaten a market that has traditionally emphasized the personal touch with its customers, many of whom it sees multiple times a day for most of the year. Just how valuable a personable frontline staffer can be to a program can be seen from some of the stories related in FM’s recent Foodservice Heroes features (here, here and here, for example). What may be evolving is an approach in which human labor is allocated to high-impact customer-facing functions while rote back-of-the-house and routine operational roles (such as order taking) are automated. These are solutions in which big commercial operators are already sinking major investments, and which can be expected to eventually filter through the rest of the industry as vendors look to broaden markets and capture market share.


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SOURCE Life Time, Inc.

Complimentary Green Onion digital resource uniquely helps school food professionals remove unhealthy ingredients

Life Time Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of Life Time (NYSE: LTH), today announced its nationwide launch of a groundbreaking, complimentary digital resource, Green Onion, which is designed to help all school districts, purchasing

Executive Director for the Urban School Food Alliance (USFA), a collaborative of the largest school districts in the United States. Committed to improving the quality of food served in schools and increasing access to healthy, delicious

practical, impactful tools “Green Onion is one of the most

meals for all students, the

cooperatives and food distributors analyze their

USFA represents 4.2 million students at

36-year career in school nutrition.” for improving school food that I have seen in my

K-12 food products to identify, remove and replace unhealthy ingredients and create positive, sustainable nutritional changes.

6,461 schools across 18 districts, including the four largest in the nation: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami.

“Green Onion is one of the most practical, impactful tools for improving school food that I have seen in my 36-year career in school nutrition,” said Katie Wilson, Ph.D.,

Green Onion offers an easy-to-use, comprehensive solution that informs school food professionals of ingredients of concern highlighted in the Ingredient Guide


for Better School Food Purchasing and provides better product alternatives. The software also allows users to make more educated procurement decisions and track their progress towards the elimination of unwanted ingredients. The Ingredient Guide for Better School Food Purchasing is a science-based resource created by school nutrition professionals in partnership with the Center for Science in the Public Interest. It provides resources for school food leaders and manufacturers who are committed to improving the overall nutritional quality and safety of food provided to students, while decreasing barriers for manufacturers interested in removing ingredients of concern from their products. The Life Time Foundation has been a part of this collaborative effort since 2020. “We want all children to live healthier, happier lives and that starts with the food they eat,” said Megan Flynn, MPH, RD Life Time Foundation Nutrition Program Manager. “That’s why we are proud to offer Green Onion free to all school food professionals and support them in their efforts to eliminate ultra-processed foods and refine their menus for the health and wellbeing of the children they serve.”

To streamline food product data collection and ensure its accuracy, Life Time Foundation has partnered with 1WorldSync, the largest Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) which simplifies the distribution of accurate, updated and relevant product information into Green Onion. This allows Green Onion to receive real time product data directly from K-12 suppliers, ensuring reliable information is available to all school food professionals nationwide. “Because Green Onion is conveniently accessible online, accurate and free to users, it enables every school district – regardless of size – to quickly and efficiently evaluate products in the school marketplace and immediately choose alternatives in favor of products that remove harmful ingredients. This makes it a truly unique and indispensable tool for every school nutrition program across the country,” Dr. Wilson added.

School districts and school food

Ready for more K12 content? Subscribe to Served Digizine today!

professionals interested in creating a free Green Onion account may learn more and get started HERE.



Marygrace Taylor

Among the new creations are Chipotle Cheese Nachos, Egg Roll in a Bowl, Spicy Tzatziki Beef Gyro, and Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit Tostada.

Student voices took priority as Aramark Student Nutrition geared up for a new school year with SN Insights 360. a refreshed platform for student engagement that uses a holistic strategy to link student feedback with its nutrition and culinary programs to offer healthy, great-tasting options for the new school year. SN Insights 360 is a proprietary,

country that pools that expertise to develop attractive, on- trend recipes for schools. Led by culinary and nutrition Vice President Beth Ann Engelland, the Culinary Alliance tests new products to see if they will work in a school setting, making sure that their toughest critics were there to try the new recipes. Among the latest creations

comprehensive program for community feedback that uses a variety of research methodologies to discover emerging needs of students through annual surveys, in-café evaluations,

are Chipotle Cheese Nachos, Egg Roll in a Bowl, Spicy Tzatziki Beef Gyro, and Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit Tostada.

action committees, focus groups, customer journey mapping and tasting events. “SN Insights 360 is an actionable, exciting way for students to make sure that they influence their daily nutrition,” says Aramark Student Nutrition President/CEO Barbara Flanagan. “It isn’t just a feedback form or a checklist task—it is a broad-based

Engaging children to learn about the foods they are eating is another priority and Aramark’s ACE Mascot program is designed to deliver impactful content to children in the first through third grades with “kid-preferred” videos.

Meanwhile, the ACE puppet— an energetic fox—teaches kids the importance of healthy habits through games, short video clips, mindful moments, and multiple- choice questions.

initiative built to empower future generations. It keeps the focus on the students and their dynamic needs.”

To leverage the feedback into culinary results, Student Nutrition launched a Nutrition Network this past March that combined the resources of more than 60 registered dietitian nutritionists to share information and best practices. Their input was then integrated with a revamped Culinary Alliance to re-examine and develop innovative, new school menus. The Culinary Alliance is composed of 15 Aramark Chefs in different regions of the

“We continually look for new ways to adapt, refresh, and lead the way in serving our school communities,” said Flanagan. “We believe in taking a hard look at everything we do—whether with excellence or with opportunity—and using that evaluation to build better programming and stronger relationships. To do that, we are laser-focused on student engagement, culinary innovation, and community connection.”


Food Management magazine has been around for over 50 years. Here’s a glimpse of what it was covering 50, 30, 25, 15 and 10 years ago… A Look Back

September 1973 FM’s one-year anniversary issue took a look at equipment trends, focusing on trendy new developments like automation (though computerized controls were still in the future) and central production using volume production equipment. 23

September 1993 This issue featured the winners of the magazine’s Spices of Life recipe contest, with first place going to Chuck Hurst, executive chef at Winthrop University in South Carolina for ARA Services

(now Aramark) for his Grilled Tuna Salad with Tomato-Corn Chutney & warm Balsamic Vinaigrette. There were so many entries that five, rather than the traditional three) second prizes were given.

The emerging trend of calling on directors to manage multiple departments outside of the foodservice realm was explored in this issue, with advice offered from a variety of directors who had made the multi-department transition.



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FM’s venerable Top 50 annual listing of the largest contract companies was 10 years old in 2008 (the first one appeared in the April 1998 issue), with the top spots already filled with familiar names, though in a different order than more recently. Only about half of this group made the 2023 list in its 2008 guise.

Healthcare’s reach outside the institution walls was already becoming a thing 10 years ago, helping spawn the current food-as- medicine trend September 2013


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Mike Buzalka

Here’s a closer look at some of what’s on the menus at Morrison Healthcare’s spectacular new food hall operation at Lancaster General Hospital. Central Table Eatery is a food hall–style space at Lancaster General Hospital in Pennsylvania that has been named the Best of Show winner in the 2023 FM Best Concept Awards program. Designed, opened and operated in partnership with Morrison Healthcare, Central Table Eatery offers guests nearly a dozen unique dining concepts and represents the cutting edge of healthcare facility retail dining.

Here’s a photo tour of some of what’s being served at the various food stations…

Environmentally conscious pan seared scallops are served over warm potato salad with crispy local bacon, caramelized onions and summer squash. SEARED SCALLOPS, HERITAGE STATION Crispy seared chicken breast with a warm bulgur wheat and fresh roast local beets, fortified broth and sherry pan reduction. CHICKEN UNDER A BRICK, HERITAGE STATION


Kale and romaine blend with barley, strawberry bruschetta, blueberries, feta, pickled onions, spicy pecans and green goddess. EARTH BOWL, SUNBURST STATION

Vegetable curry with watermelon and chicken tika masala is served with pineapple tepache beverage. STOP FOOD WASTE DAY PROMOTION, HERITAGE STATION

Fresh Greek platter with freekeh, marinated cucumbers, olives, halloumi cheese, grape leaves, baba ghanoush and harissa carrot hummus served with lemon vinaigrette and pita. TAPAS BOWL, SUNBURST STATION

Pizza is topped with brisket, shishito peppers, shiitake mushrooms, fromage blanc, mozzarella, garlic chili oil, pickled onions and scallions. SUMMER BRISKET & SHISHITO PEPPER PIZZA, HEARTH & CO. STATION

Bowl incorporates kale and romaine, asparagus, crispy leeks, watermelon radish, goat cheese, pistachio crumble, pickled oranges and roasted pears with strawberry pepper vinaigrette. FRENCH MARKET SALAD, EARTH BOWL STATION

Bowl contains kale and romaine, black rice with Asian plum dressing, avocado, kimchi, baby bell peppers, pineapple cucumber salsa, macadamia nuts, wonton strips and sesame seeds. ALOHA BOWL, EARTH BOWL STATION

Pizza is topped with lemon, broccolini, ricotta, pistachios, bianca sauce, pesto and mozzarella. LEMON, BROCCOLINI & RICOTTA PIZZA, HEARTH & CO. STATION


Fresh podcasts from



“I got five on it.” 55 min

From balancing creativity and simplicity in school lunch options to embracing personal growth and inspiring others, this episode is filled with incredible moments that will leave you inspired. Eugene believes that by providing a helping hand and a smile, we can make a significant impact on someone’s life. Get ready to be inspired and motivated by Eugene’s incredible journey. From his career path from Chicago to Memphis, to his innovative ideas for enhancing the school environment and dining experience, there’s something for everyone.


Building strong teams & healthy habits in school nutrition 1 hr 13 min

In the episode Alex Hallmark delves into various aspects of the school food service industry, sharing personal experiences and insights. We cover a range of topics, including the unexpected journey into nursing, challenges of standardization and design in a school district, point of sale, food safety concerns in school cafeterias, and training and staffing in the office. Alex offers valuable insights into the world of school food service, highlighting the challenges, successes, and exciting developments within the industry. Listeners are sure to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and opportunities present in this field.

47 min

St. Vrain School District - A Home for Innovation

We traveled to Colorado for this episode to meet with Katie Cossette and Theresa Spires at St. Vrain Schools. We spoke about some of the innovative programs they’re implementing in their schools such as, the culinary arts degree students can receive at their Career Elevation Technology Center campus, their upcoming Farm Box program, their student-raised live stock that they process and offer during their school meal program, and more! Listen into this episode to learn exactly why St. Vrain took home the NxtGen Network Ignite 2023 Innovation award, while being inspired along the way!

56 min

Aurora Public Schools - Breaking out of complacency

For this episode we made the trip to Colorado to meet with our good friend, Shannon Soloman, of Aurora Public Schools . Our conversation included her winning the FES Top Achiever award, it being the first time someone from K-12 won, how and why K-12 operators need to tell their story, and some of the innovative solutions she’s providing her kids including drive-thrus! Make sure you buckle up, this is going to be one wild ride!


Breakfast so good it makes you want to breakdance? Well, maybe a Texas two-step. Either way, this Nitty Gritty Bowl from Morrison Healthcare is something to crow about in the morning light.

Do you know of a culinary item to highlight? Send photos and information to to potentially be featured in Food Management.



Mike Buzalka

Photos: Tampa Bay Kitchen Company/Aramark at Citi

Citi and Aramark Workplace Hospitality collaborated to create a model workplace dining/socializing amenity at Citi’s Tampa campus. Citi’s newly branded food hall in Tampa, Tampa Bay Kitchen Company, features an amenity space and programming to increase food offerings and speed up the guest experience while also showcases mouth-watering food, seamless convenience and an energetic environment that allows the culinary team to focus on delivering superior dining experiences.

Here’s a closer look…

Chef Marco, originally from Naples, Italy, creates scratch-made Neapolitan style pizza with house made signature sauce.

Olive and Stone menus Mediterranean inspired cuisine, hand stretched Neapolitan pizzas/handhelds, Chef crafted pastas, seafood and regional favorites from France, Italy, the Greek Islands and Northern Africa.

Smokeshow features a wood fired rotisserie, regional American style BBQ, cured and smoked meats, seafood and vegetables.

The mobile ordering food locker pickup zone

Reimagined entryway now includes collaboration space & Starbucks store.

The wood fired rotisserie prepares house- brined smoked meats at Smokeshow.

The 48-sq.ft Olive and Stone oven features underfloor infrared burners to deliver the highest quality and efficiency.

The operation uses branded sustainable packaging for takeaway orders.

The Harvest outdoor eatery will have made- to-order salads, wraps, fresh pressed fruit/ vegetable juices and smoothies with seasonal ingredients from its farming partners.

Consumer friendly state of the art technology and kiosk ordering are available at each concept.

A Vegan Grain Bowl that will be available at The Harvest.

The outdoor second level meeting space with putting green & event opportunities.

Locally sourced ingredients come through partnerships with local farms, allowing for the highest quality of ingredients.


Great Spaces

Boston College

Boston College’s recently revamped Carney Dining Room is bustling with back to school crowds fueling up for class with everything from bowls of cereal to noodle bowls, wraps and acai bowls.

Do you know of a great space to highlight? Send photos and information to to potentially be featured in Food Management.

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