Sponsored by Barilla Foodservice
Time-and labor-saving tactics have always been important in the fast-paced, high-volume world of college and university and healthcare kitchens. These days, thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the top talk among foodservice operators is all about shortages—staffing and products—and finding new ways to create great-tasting, high-quality dishes with less of both.
“An ongoing discussion we have right now is, should we make this item or should we buy this item?” said Dan Henroid, director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Services at the University of California, San Francisco.
Henroid is one of many leaders from the Foodservice Leadership Council who joined the International Foodservice Association in late 2021 for a series of webinars to share their perspectives on shortages and other challenges facing the industry, according to a recent article in Nation’s Restaurant News.
Earlier in the pandemic C&U and healthcare foodservice leaders were taking drastic measures, such as cutting back on scratch-made menu items, reducing days and hours of operation or even closing some dining rooms altogether. As the pandemic rages on, though, many are now taking a less extreme approach to saving time and maximizing labor. Here are some of the top strategies they’re turning to now:
- Befriending the freezer. Whether high-volume production, catering or plated-service, frozen fare can be a sweet solution to staffing shortages and time-pressed teams as it easily moves from freezer to oven to table.
In an effort to continue to meet customer demands amid reduced staffing, Chefs at the University of Georgia recently switched to Barilla Frozen, the pasta-maker’s new line of pre-cooked frozen pastas. "We’re seeing more and more operators turning to solutions like Barilla Frozen,” says Jeanette Gerger, Marketing Manager for Barilla Foodservice. “When you're the chef and you find yourself washing dishes due to labor shortages, it makes sense to simplify throughout your operations."
Additionally, with a high-quality frozen product, operators who didn’t—or couldn’t—otherwise menu pasta now have the option to offer it, as less equipment is required to prepare the same dish. Barilla Frozen products, for example, can be prepared in a steamer, in a microwave, or even in a pizza oven. They can be used for to-order service, or be held for 30 minutes or more, which is ideal for today’s growing grab-and-go and delivery demands.
- Making a few items, really well. With the strict dietary guidelines many hospitals must follow, ongoing product shortages or long lead times pose particular challenges. To overcome them, some operators are focusing on high-quality products they can source to make dishes they know are in high demand.
Joe Ninnemann, regional director of food and nutrition services at Advocate Aurora Health, was among the panelists participating in a November Association for Healthcare Foodservice webinar about labor and product shortages that continue to impact healthcare operations, according to a recent Foodservice Director article.
“We're going to cook the items that we know our patients and our customers are really going to eat and stop wasting time on trying to be better than average on everything,” said Ninnemann. “Let’s get really good at a handful of things."
- Leveraging lasagne sheets. During the outset of the pandemic, some of New York City’s best chefs took to making—or perfecting—their lasagne dishes. Now the much-loved comfort food, which travels extremely well and reheats with ease, is on restaurant menus everywhere. C&U and healthcare chefs can consistently create similar, high-quality lasagne—which can be labor- and time-intensive—by using smart ingredients, such as Barilla Lasagne Chef. With solutions like this, adding the popular Italian comfort food to the menu is a non-issue.
Ready to explore more kitchen solutions and find culinary inspiration? Visit Barilla Foodservice today.