As I write this, I'm on my way to deliver the annual Grace M.Shugart Lecture sponsored by Kansas State University's department of hospitality management and dietetics. Many in the audience will be students, and I thought this month's column might serve in lieu of physical handouts for them and for readers of the magazine who often make similar presentations.
These past articles and “think pieces” from Food Management highlight important topics to anyone aspiring to a successful career in the field.
The Art of Better Merchandising
Customers eat with their eyes, and one of the most important skills for any operator is to develop better merchandising strategies among staff. It's a guaranteed way to ensure that when customers enter your café, the food and ambience is perceived in the best possible light. For ideas, go to food-management.com/business_feature/fm_imp_18471 
Plate Like the Pros
Chefs have a lot more on their plate than artists who limit themselves to pleasing just the visual sense. The way food is arranged on a plate is an important part of how food is presented and merchandised, whether it's for white tablecloth service or the display plate used to merchandise the daily special in an onsite café. For some tips on how you can improve your plating skills, go to food-management.com/business_topics/menu_cuisine/plate-like-pros-0599 
An ever-widening variety of food stations, whether freestanding, modular or mobile, have taken the place of traditional cafeteria steam tables and hot food lines. They're often engineered to give the impression of a long line of mini-restaurants, each with its own entree concept, food customization options, display ambience and flavor profiles. For some thoughts on what makes a successful and effective station design, go to: food-management.com/business_feature/fm_imp_5651 
The Green Kitchen
Sustainability is one of the trends that has had a lasting influence on today's most successful foodservice operations. For some expert views on how it has affected the specification of kitchen equipment, check out this article at food-management.com/business_feature/green_kitchen_0109 
The Six Ps of Foodservice Marketing
Marketing involves effective sales promotion, but also a whole lot more. This series of columns walks you through the 6 Ps of Marketing, re-interpreted with an eye on foodservice: food-management.com/editors_page/fm_imp_6086 
FSDs Play a Key Role in Their Institution's Public Relations
The title says it all: foodservice is often the human face of otherwise large and sometime bureaucratic organizations and your café can make a difference in how the entire organization is perceived. Go to food-management.com/editors_page/fm_imp_2107 
Are You Managing the Operation?
Or are you managing the Customer Experience? You have to do both well if you want to generate repeat business, higher check averages, better participation rates and the other metrics that matter. food-management.com/editors_page/managing-the-operation-0311 
Food Safety: Don't Underestimate the Value of Communication
This article offers advice on how to more effectively develop a practical working relationship with your health inspector and is one of many articles we've run on the topic. You can search for “food safety” on the site for others, but get started with this one: food-management.com/business_topics/food_safety/fm_imp_2090/index.html 
15 Ways to Slice Your Food Costs
This article appears later in this issue and hasn't yet been posted to the web but you'll soon be able to find it there by searching for its title. For some additional thoughts on food purchasing, go to “Common Mistakes that Purchasing Managers Make” at food-management.com/editors_page/fm_imp_12214/ 
Finally, here's a column written about an interview I had with the Greenbrier's Rodney Stoner, who offered excellent advice for hospitality students about why it is so important to Ask the Right Questions Early in Your Career. You can read it at food-management.com/editors_page/fm_imp_2114/