Food Management has announced the winners of its 2013 “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 initiatives in new and renovated foodservice facility design to menu innovation, wellness initiatives, special event planning and convenience retailing. The awards will be featured in a special editorial section of the August issue of Food Management and will be presented at the Penton Restaurant Group’s annual MUFSO conference, to be held Sept. 29 – Oct. 1 in Dallas, TX. The August article will also be available on the Food Management web site at www.food-management.com
The top honor for “Best of Show” in 2013 was awarded to Henry Ford Health System for the comprehensive wellness program it has integrated across its foodservice, educational and community outreach operations. Nine other individual category winners were also named.
Food Management’s editors based 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 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 FM editors.
The ten 2013 Best Concept award winners include:
Best of Show
Henry Ford Hospitals
In an era when wellness, community engagement and preventative services have received ever greater attention in the healthcare field, Henry Ford Hospitals has stepped to the forefront with a series of initiatives that demonstrate an impressive institutional commitment to these goals. One of a small number of hospitals nationwide to successfully implement the Partnership for a Healthier America standards, the multi-location Henry Ford system offers healthy and attractive meal options for both patients and retail customers in an unobtrusive and positive way. It also reaches out beyond the institution’s footprint to the larger communities in its market with services such as health and wellness education sessions for both children and adults.
In doing so, Henry Ford has provided a unique model for other systems and employers to learn from. It has also demonstrated excellence in several other Best Concept award category criteria, ranging from the new, LEED-certified construction evidenced in its West Bloomfield facility to its enhanced retail foodservice model, its use of local sourcing of food ingredients and its support of an on-campus, certified organic greenhouse for patient, community and student wellness education.
Best New Facility
Turner Place at Lavery Hall, Virginia Tech
A brand new 35,000-sq.ft., 1,077-seat addition to Virginia Tech’s campus dining program, Turner Place offers a mix of three national branded and five internal branded food outlets over two levels. Each concept has its own distinctive “look” and is unique to Turner. The facility is located in an underserved section of campus where it is close to classrooms and parking, ideal for attracting the school’s thousands of commuter students.
Curry Dining Center at Northeastern University
The redesign of the 30,000 sq.ft. Curry Student Dining Center included the complete renovation of the 514-seat ground floor dining area and the addition of a new, 3,000 sq.ft. suspended glass mezzanine with 168 dining seats and 28 lounge seats. The mezzanine, accessed by a new, glass stair, links dining and student center functions, creating vibrant, flow-through circulation and gathering places for students. Dining selections include Northeastern’s own branded food concepts as well as those offered by popular local operators and national vendors.
Best Management Company Concept
Did You Know Café developed by Sodexo
Did You Know (DYK) is targeted to that notoriously hand-to-please student demographic, the “tween” middle schooler. It features a combination of branded food concepts and appealing menu items along with an educational component revolving around a “did you know” approach that uses “fun facts” and “tips of the week” to convey information about nutrition, exercise and healthy eating. The concept was developed on the basis of extensive research to determine what and how to appeal to youngsters poised between childhood and the teen years.
Best special event, station concept and more
Best Special Event Concept
Parent Night at the Nutrition Center St. Paul (MN) Public Schools
St. Paul Schools has an extremely diverse student population with many children coming from immigrant families who are suspicious of food served outside the home and anxious about how their children eat. Parent Night is designed to allay those fears by giving parents an opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at the school nutrition operation, complete with the serving of a typical school meal. Tour guides are aided by translators to make sure the message is conveyed effectively.
Best Station Concept
Paninoteca developed by Restaurant Associates
The humble meatball gets the upscale treatment with this gourmet panini concept, which offers four exotic meatball choices, six toppings and four breads for customers to mix and match. The meatballs themselves are the star attraction with selections like one combining pork shoulder, prosciutto, hot cherry pepper and cippolinni. Another has Angus beef, ricotta, parsley and black pepper. Toppings include saffron aioli, olive-caper tapenade and spicy pepper relish while the breads include ciabatta, rosemary focaccia and seminola hero.
Best Convenience Retailing Concept
Procrastination Station at University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Located in a high-rise library sitting in the middle of campus that had no previous onsite foodservice, Procrastination Station is a 24-hour service concept offering a menu of salads, hot and cold sandwiches (including breakfast sandwiches served round the clock), baked goods and gourmet hot and cold beverages, all made with natural and organic ingredients. There are also organic hand and cut fruit selections as well as organic bars and vegan/vegetarian packaged meals.
Best Customer Service Concept
Restaurant Delivery at University of North Carolina Hospitals
Restaurant Delivery takes the menu choices available from UNC Hospitals’ popular house brand retail concepts and puts them on the room service patient menu. This not only provides patients with a large array of high-quality dining choices (the brands are displayed on the patient menu) but allows the dining department to achieve operational and purchasing efficiencies by having a common menu across both the retail and patient dining platforms.
Best Wellness Concept
Simple Servings developed by Sodexo
Simple Servings approaches the food allergy problem with a comprehensive approach. Rather than designing different menus for different allergy sufferers, the concept simply eliminates all use of seven of the eight most common food allergens. Designed to be part of an all-you-care-to-eat station mix in a college dining hall, Simple Servings has its own cookware and utensils to prevent any cross-contamination, while an extensive menu database provides plenty of daily and day-to-day choice for diners.
Café 17, operated by Bon Appètit at eBay/PayPal
Like many Silicon Valley companies, eBay/PayPal employs a highly diverse workforce that includes many who prefer vegetarian and Indian cuisine. Café 17 includes several concepts geared to these tastes, from its Bombay Corner Grill and a Tandoor station to its Noodle Bar, Wok station and Asian Grill. Among other specialties, it features a made-to-order dosa menu and highly-regarded sushi bar. Some examples of recent menu items included Hot Chili Uthappam, Curried Trout, Lima Bean Mulli Masala, Mumbai Murgh, Navarthina Korma and Rogan Gosht, all prepared in authentic fashion.