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FM announces 2015 Best Concept Award winners

FM announces 2015 Best Concept Award winners

The University of California San Francisco Medical Center takes home top prize.

The University of California San Francisco Medical Center (UCSFMC) has been named Best of Show winner in Food Management magazine’s 2015 Best Concept Awards competition.
UCSFMC’s department of nutrition & food services, led by Director Dan Henroid, was awarded the honor for its industry-leading performance in deploying the latest in technological innovations to provide the medical center’s staff, visitors and patients with nutritious, attractive and high-quality meal choices in an efficient and cost-effective manner. These innovations are particularly prominent in UCSFMC’s new Mission Bay campus, which opened earlier this year.

UCSFMC, and nine other Best Concept Award winners, will be honored at the 56th annual MUFSO conference, Sept. 20-22, in Dallas.

In addition to Best of Show, FM announced Best Concept Award winners in nine specific categories. They are…

Best Convenience Retailing Concept—the kiosk program at Hilton Head High School, operated by the Beaufort (South Carolina) County School District and Sodexo
At Hilton Head High, three kiosks, plus a c-store, are scattered around the premises, each with a distinctive menu that replicates one of the stations in the cafeteria. This innovative arrangement solved the problem of providing lunch conveniently for the entire student body during a single 50-minute lunch period, with the extra touch of also providing various “destination restaurants” provided by the distinctive kiosk menus.

Best Customer Service Concept—SMART Lunch at Dickinson (Texas) ISD High School
The SMART lunch approach allows Dickinson High’s 2,700 students to get meals rapidly in a single lunch period by pulling attractively packaged prepared meals from individual compartments in 18 temperature-controlled food merchandising units. The innovation mitigates the “lunch crush” factor that hampers participation when large numbers must be served in a very short time, while providing quickly identifiable meal choices in an appealing way.

Best Management Company Concept—In the Zone from Sodexo
In the Zone is a comprehensive toolkit for Sodexo’s retail outlet managers, providing everything from merchandising and pricing guidance to planograms and training materials, all based on sophisticated consumer research. The concept is an outstanding example of how a management company can leverage its capabilities and resources to provide effective unit-level assistance across thousands of individual locations.

Best Menu—Ironsides Waffles food truck at Tulane University/Sodexo
While quirky and innovative menu concepts are hardly unknown in food trucks, Ironsides presents a distinctive approach that is based not only on a somewhat unusual base ingredient (waffles) that is familiar to and popular with college students but also one flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of menu choices from sweet to savory, with plenty of room for specials.

Best New Facility—Innovation Brew Works at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Innovation Brew Works is a campus brewpub that is the retail adjunct of a working on-campus brewery that teaches students the art of beer and ale making. The brewpub serves the various beers made on site, as well as some from nearby craft brewers, plus a food menu that consists of sandwiches, salads and pizza made fresh in front of customers. The location serves as a prominent example of a foodservice outlet supporting an academic program.

Best Renovation—The Blue Wall at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
The Blue Wall is a complete overhaul of a venerable campus retail dining venue that traditionally emphasized quick-serve choices for large numbers of customers. The new roster of dining concepts not only emphasizes quality—from upscale roasted meats and authentic gelatos to freshly rolled sushi and Niman Ranch burgers—but supports the university’s sustainability mission with touches like 100 percent compostable disposables, organic/local ingredients where possible and facility design based on LEED Commercial Interiors Retail guidelines.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

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Best Special Event—Winner Winner Chicken Dinner at Holmen (Wisconsin) School District
This special meal event featured chicken that is as local as it’s possible to get: from fowls raised by Future Farmers of America students at Holmen High School. The meal event, which included not just district students and staff but also members of the community, illustrated in the most basic way possible the connection between source and end product when it comes to food. As an additional touch, the sides served with the chicken included salad made with hydroponic lettuce also raised by students and locally grown potatoes.

Best Station Concept— Tiffin from Restaurant Associates
Tiffin is a unique and authentic approach to serving Indian food: by using individual metal canisters for the different meal components that allow them to maintain flavor and temperature integrity. The concept takes authenticity one step beyond ingredient and preparation method to encompass “plating” in a way that also impacts food quality. The unusual container approach also provides a natural conversation piece that supports the station’s educational mission to teach customers about another culture’s food traditions.

Best Wellness Concept—Michael D. Bloch Café at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
The menu at the Bloch Café, located on the 14th floor of the medical center’s new 425-bed Cancer & Critical Care Tower, incorporates the 25 foods used in cancer research in a four-week rotating cycle. This innovation not only starkly illustrates the mission of the host venue but also provides an educational component by showing how such ingredients can be incorporated into delicious and high-quality dishes. As a further extension of its wellness mission, the Bloch Café holds nutrition education sessions and hosts cancer patient support groups.

Since their inception, FM's Best Concept Awards have annually celebrated innovation and creativity in the onsite foodservice community across a range of categories, from facility design and menu concepts to convenience retailing and special events. The competition also names a Best of Show winner each year to honor a program that has achieved overall excellence across multiple areas.

MUFSO is managed and presented by Nation's Restaurant News, Restaurant Hospitality and Food Management. Now in its 56th year, MUFSO is the most comprehensive executive conference in the foodservice industry, offering a wide range of content designed to appeal to restaurant decision makers throughout the industry. In addition to showcasing thought-provoking and inspirational keynote addresses, the conference offers more than 30 educational sessions spread across such discipline-focused tracks as Operations, Culinary, Marketing, Restaurateur and Ideas. For more information and to register visit

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