Food Management has announced the winners of its 2012 “Best Concepts” awards competition. The annual program recognizes exceptional achievement and innovation in key areas of noncommercial foodservice, as judged by the FM editorial staff.
Categories range from demonstrations of high quality, new and renovated foodservice facility design to menu innovation, wellness initiatives, convenience retailing and special event planning. The awards will be featured in a special editorial section of the August issue of Food Management and will be presented at the Penton Foodservice Group’s annual MUFSO Conference Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Dallas, TX.
The top honor for “Best of Show” in 2012 was awarded to Stanford University for its new Arrillaga Family Dining Commons (see below), which is also being recognized as the competition’s Best New Facility design. In the view of FM’s editors, Arrillaga Commons epitomizes how a campus dining facility can serve multiple goals: building community, supporting educational culture as well as showcasing culinary talent and offering high quality, high volume meal production. Arrillaga’s excellence in several of the other categories recognized in the competition made it a standout candidate for the Best of Show award.
Individual category winners from the FM Best Concept awards program follow:
Best of Show/Best New Facility
Stanford University: Arrillaga Family Dining Commons
Arrillaga Family Dining Commons is the first new dining hall to be built on the Stanford campus in almost 20 years and was designed to serve as the flagship of the Stanford Residential and Dining Enterprises department. The 26,000-sq.ft., state-of the-art, two-story facility features a cooking suite as the centerpiece of its Culinary Studio in the main servery on its second floor. This is where students, faculty and staff can take cooking classes and watch demonstrations; the suite also serves as the hub of the school’s Training Table program for athletes, where culinary staff customize meals to meet the athlete’s nutritional and dietary needs.
Arrillaga boasts a sophisticated menu rotation that emphasizes wellness, but not at the expense of culinary excellence. It offers continuous meal service weekdays from 7:30 am to 8 pm as well as a late night dining program daily from 9 pm to 2 am.
On its first floor, Arrillaga features a central prep and production facility that supports the high volume dining room upstairs. The first floor also houses a multipurpose room with a sprung floor that is designed to host classes such as yoga, pilates and dance, a group study room that houses a projection screen and seats between 25 and 30 students, and a creative collaboration room that can function as a classroom, brainstorming space or relaxation room. Wellness kiosks provide students with information on keeping the mind, body and spirit healthy and balanced.
Best Renovation, Station Concept
KBT Café at Yale University
Opened Aug. 29, 2011, in the lobby of the Kline Biology Tower, the tallest building on campus, the KBT Café has three integrated platforms (coffee/bakery, hot/cold entrée sandwich/soup bar, deconstructed salad concept). It has a sophisticated international coffee menu/program complete with equipment for small batch roasting and hand-crafted single-cup extraction.
The new KBT is an appealing food/socialization destination that supports multi-disciplinary interaction and communication, and is targeted to Yale’s science community, which is concentrated on this end of the campus. The Tower was originally designed by noted architect Philip Johnson and opened in 1966 and renovating its space entailed many technical and historic preservation constraints.
The renovation was recognized for its spectacular, colorful design and its variety of vibrant serving stations.
Best Station Concept
Restaurant Associates, for “Kathi Rolls and Bowls”
Inspired by the street food vendors in Kolkata, India, and introduced in fall 2011, this program features paratha breads wrapped around a variety of ingredients and garnished with authentic condiments.
Designed as an action station, it serves meat dishes such as Chicken Tikka Masala and vegetarian dishes such as Alu Chole (a third protein is added in larger accounts). The guest has the option of getting the protein served rapped in paratha bread or over basmati rice and then chooses a side. The program has a low food cost and high profit margin because the ingredients are not high-end cuts of meat or expensive products
The program offers an impressive combination of authentic variety and value, demonstrating low food costs and high margins because most ingredients have a modest cost or are secondary protein cuts.
Best Management Company Corporate Concept
Sodexo Campus Services’ “FoD” (Food on Demand) program
FoD was developed to fill the void/niche of the small residential dining footprint and is an end-to-end program that brings a made-to-order restaurant experience to college campuses, complete with ordering technology and a refined menu.
Customers order using touch screen kiosks that show photos of menu items and accompanying nutritional content, allowing them to specify how and when they want the food prepared; they can also order remotely via mobile devices. FoD is designed to replace traditional dining venues that have multiple stations where customers queue up and wait in multiple queues to assemble a full meal, often without customization.
The program has a database of 400 recipes which allows sites to adapt and offer variety as well as take advantage of local fresh items when available. It cuts space usage needs in half, also shrinking energy usage and eliminating food waste because the to-order style and use of advanced cooking technology. Currently, the program operates in six colleges.
Best Wellness Initiative, Special Event and more
Best Wellness Initiative
Hallmark Cards, Inc.’s “Health Rewards Program”
This wellness incentive program allows Hallmark employees to earn up to $250/points a year which they can take in the form of cash or as a gift card. To earn points, they participate in wellness education programs, undergo preventative care and/or demonstrate weight loss. Points are automatically uploaded for formal program participation. On the dining front, the in-house dining program has committed to offering healthy choices and offers a 25% discount on them, a significant incentive.
The cafeteria has a whole Health Works section for these selections. Dining services also participates in the education program, providing highly visible nutritional information about food items; it also offers nutritional education sessions and educational displays during the company’s Wellness promotion period, when vendors come on campus to detail wellness and health related products and services.
The program was noted because it demonstrates a full-featured wellness program that clearly achieves the active participation of a large percentage of company employees.
Best Special Event
The Ohio State University Medical Center’s “Top Docs” program
Top Docs is modeled on popular Top Chefs style Food Network culinary competitions but goes well beyond being a simple “wannabe” program. It is designed both to highlight the culinary expertise residing in OSUMC’s dining department and to promote the hospital’s JamesCare for Life program, which supports cancer survivors and their families.
The event took place this past March and featured four teams, each pairing an OSUMC chef with a top oncologist for the hospital. The teams then competed as they developed and prepared a meal using a mystery basket of ingredients, including many believed to have therapeutic value for cancer survivors. Judged by prominent local chefs (including Cameron Mitchell and Chris Doody) and the food editor from the Columbus Dispatch, the event garnered significant local publicity, which was the intent.
The event went beyond the “monotony breaker” goal of most such programs and achieved multiple goals, including nutrition education, patient support service and promotional value for both the medical center’s foodservices department and the JamesCare for Life progam.
Most Creative Menu and Dining Concept
UCLA’s “Feast at Rieber”
As part of a dining hall remodel, this all-you-care-to-eat facility completely re-designed its servery and menu concept to serve a mix of seven Asian cuisines exclusively: Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian and Hawaiian. Two of the seven are featured at each meal on a rotating basis, with stations offering a mix of traditional and innovative fusion creations inspired by these cuisines.
The menu database consists of over a thousand recipes. Two exhibition stations focus on authentic entrees and combination plates, while the Market and Grill stations serve up fusion and Asian-inspired creations. A self-service side dish bar offers a selection of fresh and traditional sides, such as Indian puffed rice or Korean kimchi. There’s also a full salad/soup bar and a dessert bar featuring authentic Asian selections and condiments.
Rieber is located at one of the high points of the UCLA campus, where a long stair climb historically has tended to reduce participation levels. The “Feast at Rieber” concept has reversed that effect and has proven especially popular with the very large student population of Asian heritage.
The dining hall and menu concept breaks new ground in the way it goes well beyond offering authentic cuisine by giving its chefs a creative environment in which innovative new menu offerings can be developed by crossing traditional culinary lines.
Best Convenience Retailing Concept
New Haven Public Schools’ Summer Food Truck Program
New Haven (CT) Schools' food truck delivers free meals to children in underserved neighborhoods in the interim period between the end of the district's summer meals program and the beginning of school. The $20,000 vehicle, donated by United Way of Greater New Haven, debuted for 20 days last year, serving free breakfast and snacks to youngsters 18 and under in inner city neighborhoods. This year, it will be offering whole grain cereal for breakfast and alternating deli sandwich and salad, both accompanied by fruit, for lunch and dinner. It has been cited by First Lady Michelle Obama as an "innovative way" to improve child nutrition. The program was recognized for the highly creative way it allows a school nutrition program to extend the reach of USDA’s summer feeding program to address hunger and nutrition challenges in urban neighborhoods.
Food Management’s editors base their award decisions on a variety of factors, ranging from the impact of a given program, its effectiveness in achieving targeted results, the impact it may have on others in the field and the level of innovation it represents when considered in light of standard practices in a given noncommercial segment of the foodservice industry.
Nominations are solicited from the industry over the course of the preceding year and are also made by the magazine’s editors. The winning concepts are the result of team efforts, and team members are cited individually in the special Best Concepts editorial package that appears in the August issue of Food Management and on its website, food-management.com .
The awards are presented to winners at the Penton Foodservice Group’s annual MUFSO Conference, which will be held in Dallas later this year on Sept. 30-Oct. 2.