Archive for April, 2012

Winners to be revealed during NRA Show 2012’s inaugural “Destination: Celebration” event

National Restaurant Association Announces Operator Innovations Awards Finalists

National Restaurant Association Announces Operator Innovations Awards Finalists

Chicago, IL  (Food News)  An independent panel of judges has selected the finalists for the National Restaurant Association’s inaugural Operator Innovations Awards. Three finalists in each of five categories – Sustainability, Technology, Food Safety, Health & Nutrition, and Menu Development– will be brought to Chicago for the Association’s 2012 Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show this May. The winners in each category, plus an Innovator of the Year selected from all finalists, will be announced live during Destination: Celebration on Saturday, May 5.

“The Operator Innovations Awards is designed to celebrate and encourage continued advancement in the restaurant industry, while shining a spotlight on industry-leading innovators who inspire other restaurant operators to new heights,” said Jack Crawford, Convention Chair for NRA Show 2012 and President and CEO of Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative, LLC. “This first year’s operator finalists are driving innovation and excellence in execution, fueling customer satisfaction and profitability.”

The 2012 Operator Innovations Awards finalists are:


Evelyn Hill, Inc. (Liberty Island) – Five million visitors and close to zero waste. While serving five million visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, its operator, Evelyn Hill, Inc., has applied continuous innovations since 2000 that reduce waste and conserve water and energy. 94% of waste is now recycled or composted, and their new 7,000square foot pavilion is LEED Platinum certified.

Starbucks Coffee – Create end-markets for selected foodservice packaging. Starbucks is using its scale and brand presence to drive wholesale industry changes that benefit all restaurant and retail operators. Recycling of single-serve coated cups was extremely limited until Starbucks engaged all components of the value chain to begin making recycling practical and profitable. The company’s goal is that all of its cups, and all of the foodservice industry’s polycoated paper cups, will be recyclable by 2015.

Uncommon Ground – Organic rooftop farming in an urban setting. Uncommon Ground installed the country’s first certified organic rooftop farm at its Edgewater location in 2008 and is preparing to add a second to the Wrigleyville location, where a sidewalk farm is already growing. Both four-star certified green restaurants offer urban agriculture internships focused on farming, beekeeping and sustainable food systems.


HMS Host (Airport Terminals) – Meal delivery at the departure gate. Travelers at airport terminals can now order and pay for meals from select locations using airport restaurateur HMSHost’s free mobile app, B4 YOU BOARD. Meals—everything from appetizers to entrees—are delivered directly to passengers within 20 minutes of departure. B4 YOU Board is currently available in the following airports: JFK,O’Hare, Minneapolis/St.Paul, and expanding soon to Sacramento, Phoenix and Los Angeles..

SMART Restaurant Group (Which Wich) – On-demand, real-time training. To address training/operational needs determined through guest surveys, SMART Restaurant Group has created an integrated technology solution featuring training videos that can be accessed thru QR codes at appropriate workstations for employees and managers in their Which Wich locations. Smart phones are used to connect through the QR codes and offer 30-60 second “refresher” videos to improve performance.

Stacked Restaurants, LLC (California Casual) – Facilitating “build-your-own” ordering. Stacked Restaurants is a new, full-service concept which utilizes an iPad-based ordering system, enabling guests to control when they order and when they pay, and to customize their meal in a comfortable, uninhibited way. Guests can choose from hundreds of ingredients in customizing their burgers, pizzas, salads and mac ‘n’ cheese, as they place and pay for orders via tabletop iPads.

Food Safety

Colorado Springs School District 11 – Comprehensive management of food ingredients including allergens. This public-school system adapted and implemented the “Allerschool” system, designed to identify individual food ingredients, including all types of allergens in school menu items. This system reduces the likelihood of allergen exposure by minimizing manual ingredient checking, and it increases student safety and ingredient transparency among parents, administrators, students and the kitchen staff.

Sodexo North America – Food safety system that meets strict ISO standards. Sodexo is dedicated to ensuring safe, high quality products and services for all the people they serve. This onsite management firm achieved an industry milestone by obtaining ISO 22000:2005 Food Safety Management System certification for its operations in the US and Canada. This ISO standard requires proof of an organizations ability to plan, implement, operate, maintain and update a food safety management system aimed at providing food that is safe for the consumer.

Waffle House – A public-private partnership to secure foodservice safety post-disasters.This restaurant chain, in partnership with state health departments, developed a comprehensive business continuity plan featuring tight food safety protocols to ensure speedy and safe reopening after natural disasters. In addition, Waffle House works closely with FEMA and state emergency management agencies as an active Private Sector Partner when responding to natural disasters.

Health and Nutrition

Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services – Making healthier eating cool on campus. “Balance U” is Chartwells’ nationwide program developed to educate and encourage students to eat healthier. Not only does Balance U include made without gluten recipes, menus and labeling, but the program also includes a strong education component for students and employees alike, featuring nutritional labeling information, events and classes, and more.

Sodexo School Services (Did You Know Café) – Cafeteria-as-classroom encourages healthier eating. Targeting the finicky tween demographic, Sodexo transforms dining areas into extensions of the classroom to educate students on healthier eating with the goal of instilling lifelong healthy eating habits.

UCSF Medical Center – Clear and comprehensive communication around healthy options. This academic medical center takes an integrated approach to incorporating nutrition information, education and marketing in its restaurant settings. UCSF offers complete nutrition info in multiple ways including on digital menu boards and the customer’s receipt.

Menu Development

Sodexo School Services (Future Chefs) – Culinary competition engages students across the country. The annual Future Chefs National Competition challenges students to create and prepare healthy recipes in local competitions. 12 recipes per year are chosen to be featured on school lunch menus around the country, and this “For Kids, By Kids” approach has proven to be a great way to increase participation and get kids to try new things.

The Cheesecake Factory, Inc. – Stylized Small-Plates Menu. One of the early innovators in the space of smaller portions, Cheesecake Factory took the creative lead to develop a whole new array of stylized culinary creations that counter balanced the large portions for which it is well known. Premium plates are available in a range of prices and featured distinctly in menus.

UNC Healthcare (Chapel Hill) – Restaurant- Retail Foods Delivered to Patients. UNC Healthcare’s unique approach to foodservice is centered around 13 self branded dining concepts “restaurants” modeled after popular commercial restaurants. Each day, UNC’s 800 patients can order from a 20 page menu with greater than 80 entrée selections and have the restaurant choices delivered to their room. Patients experience greater variety at a lower labor cost than that of traditional hospital food service.

Held at Chicago’s Harris Theater Rooftop Terrace in Millennium Park, Destination: Celebration is this year’s must-attend NRA Show after-party. In addition to celebrities and industry thought leaders, guests will be treated to music by accomplished solo artist Kenny Loggins. Destination: Celebration will be held on Saturday, May 5, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online for $125 each, or packs of ten tickets for $1,000. Space is limited, and tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The judges’ panel for the Operator Innovations Awards represents the major segments of the foodservice industry. All nominations are reviewed by the panel of industry leaders consisting of Patricia Bando (Associate Vice President, Auxiliary Services, Boston College), Scott Barton(President, Fine Dining Division, Lettuce Entertain You), Jeff Broadhurst (President & CEO, Eat’n Park Hospitality Group), Marc Buehler (President, O’Charleys), Jean-Marie Clement (Director, Global Food & Beverage Line of Business, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide), Douglas Davis (Director, Global Food Safety, Marriott International), Chris Demery (Vice President, Applications, OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC), James Houser (Vice President of Administration, Delaware North), John Metz, Jr. (Executive Chef, President and Co-Founder, Sterling Hospitality),Christopher Pappas (CEO, Pappas Restaurants, Inc.), C.W. Craig Reed (Director of Food & Beverage, Broadmoor Hotel), and Ron Serluco (Senior Vice President of Operators, Guckenheimer).

The annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals. NRA Show 2012 will be held at its new dates May 5-8, at McCormick Place in Chicago. The event attracts 58,000-plus attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 100-plus countries, and showcases the latest products, services, innovative ideas, up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues and other growth opportunities than any other industry event. For more information, visit the Show website at, and find the NRA Show on Twitter @NRAShow, Facebook, YouTube and its widely read blog Floored!

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 970,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of nearly 13 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry’s largest trade show (NRA Show May 5-8, 2012, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart, including the National ProStart Invitational April 27-29, 2012, in Baltimore, Md.); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids’ menu options. For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.

San Francisco, CA  (Food News)  SF Chefs, San Francisco’s food, wine and spirits festival returns for its fourth year on July 30-August 5, 2012, with the Grand Tasting Tent events taking place in the legendary Union Square on August 3-August 5, 2012.  Presented by Visa Signature®, and produced by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA), the celebration will highlight Northern California’s bounty of ingredients, chefs and restaurants, winemakers and wineries, bartenders and bars, breweries, farmers and artisan producers.

As SF Chefs continues to grow into its fourth year, the festival is committed to strengthening the community and continuing to increase its commitment to charities. Various events will support the San Francisco Food Bank, the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), Meals On Wheels of San Francisco, the James Beard Foundation and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Fund.

Culinary camaraderie will take the spotlight this year and the event will highlight the unique relationships that Bay Area chefs have with their peers, purveyors and farmers. The Bay Area chef community is based on mutual assistance, education and the strengthening of the bonds that impact the culinary landscape. It’s something worth celebrating!

“As a Chef, there is no better place to call home than the Bay Area,” commented Pastry Chef, Emily Luchetti of Farallon and Waterbar and co-chair of the festival’s Chef Advisory Board. “Not only is the culinary community filled with talented individuals who care deeply about their products, we also care about one another. We appreciate and respect each other’s styles and work hard to make San Francisco one of the best culinary cities in the country.”

Grand Tasting Tent

The festival will be centered around the Grand Tasting Tent, set in San Francisco’s legendary Union Square. In the Grand Tasting Tent from Friday, August 3rd to Sunday, August 5th, attendees will savor tastes from over 100 acclaimed Bay Area chefs. Notable Bay Area chefs that have already committed to the event include Martin Yan, Craig Stoll, Emily Luchetti, Gary Danko, Charles Phan, Hubert Keller, Joanne Weir, Thomas McNaughton, Mourad Lahlou, Anthony Strong, David Lawrence, Chris Cosentino, Hoss Zare, Jen Biesty, Russell Jackson, Perry Hoffman, and Ryan Scott. In addition, attendees can enjoy specialty cocktails mixed with fresh, local ingredients by some of the city’s best bartenders, wine tastings from local and international wineries.

During the week of the festival, attendees can participate in cooking demonstrations, classes and seminars and listen to panel discussions hosted by notable industry professionals at The Westin St. Francis.  On Thursday, August 2 and Friday August 3, the Food Arts Industry Series will offer demos and panel discussions designed for hospitality industry professionals.

What’s New

There are a number of new and exciting events planned for 2012. In anticipation of the main event, on May 14th SF Chefs will host “SF Chefs at the Ballpark” in partnership with the San Francisco Giants. A pre-game tasting with Chefs, the event will highlight their takes on classic ballpark food.

SF Chefs will also host The Dinner Party Project, a series of pop-up dinners showcasing groups of chef friends collaborating for one night to create unique menus: a blend of cooking styles, a fusion of their signature cuisines or a new restaurant concept. The series will benefit CUESA.

Preview Demos at Williams-Sonoma and the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

During the month of June, cooking demos will take place at Williams-Sonoma’s flagship store on Union Square. Throughout the month of July, “Eye on the Bay’s SF Chefs Preview Series” will be presented at CUESA’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.  Attendees will have the opportunity to see some of San Francisco’s favorite chefs in action amidst the bustle of the market.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit Ticket prices range from $25 – $160 and will be available to Visa Signature cardholders beginning May 7 and on sale to the public beginning June 1.   At all SF Chefs events, Visa Signature cardholders receive ticket discounts and special perks.

Presenting Sponsor: Visa Signature

Platinum and Gold Sponsors include: Anolon, Campari America, Dacor, Fiji, Illy Livermore Valley Wine Country, National Pork Board, Westfield, Westin St. Francis, Columbus Foods, Driscoll’s, Gemini, International Culinary Center, Pernod Ricard, Rhone Valley Wines, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Union Square BID, Virgin America, Wente Vineyards, William Grant.

About the Golden Gate Restaurant Association

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) is a non-profit trade association founded in 1936 to promote, extend and protect the interests of the broader restaurant industry, and to serve our members in the San Francisco Bay Area. Restaurants are a high-risk and generally low-profit-margin enterprise undertaken by people passionate about a wonderful cultural tradition: eating out. GGRA is a resource to help our members keep the doors open and tables set. For more information, visit

About Visa Signature

SF Chefs is presented by Visa Signature. Visa Signature offers cardholders a range of benefits that provide special access and can save time and money.  In addition to points, miles, cash back or other premium rewards offered by Visa Signature partners, Visa Signature cardholders enjoy perks such as 24/7 complimentary concierge services, the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection and exclusive offers for fine wine and food, travel, and sports and entertainment events.  For more information on Visa Signature and issuers offering Visa Signature visit

About Andrew Freeman & Co.

Andrew Freeman & Co. is a high-energy hospitality agency with a unique blend of expertise in marketing, publicity and creative services.  AF&Co offers programs that include: creative/concept development, branding, recruiting, public relations, sales/marketing, training, event management. The AF&Co team is creative, direct and fun, and focuses on the areas that they are passionate about: restaurants, wine, travel, hotels, and lifestyle personalities and products. For more information, visit AF&Co. at, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Chicago, IL  (Food News)  Consumers are interested in healthy eating more than ever, and Mintel’s research reveals that approximately half (52%) of American adults are currently “watching” their diet. And while 60% report dieting because they want to lose weight, some 15% of dieters claim to be doing so at least in part because of concerns about “salt intake.”

Indeed, it appears “sodium watching” is a relevant concern, as more than four in 10 (44%) US consumers claim that they “always” or “usually” consult the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) and/or ingredient list to assess sodium levels when considering a food purchase. By contrast, 51% “always” or “usually” look at fat content, while 47% inspect sugar levels, and 49% examine calorie counts “always” or “usually” when shopping.

“The relatively high incidence of dieting in the US is one key factor driving demand for low-sodium products,” says Molly Maier, senior health and wellness analyst at Mintel. “Our findings indicate that fat and calorie counts are more likely than sodium to influence purchase. Thus, companies may be able to maximize the appeal of low-sodium foods by also showing, where appropriate, that they are low in fat and calories.”

When it comes to sodium, nearly two thirds (62%) of Americans believe that manufacturers are responsible for disclosing how much sodium is in their products, whereas just 35% feel the government is responsible for such disclosures. Eighteen percent see this as the responsibility of retailers.

Despite an interest in disclosures on the part of manufacturers, less than half (46%) feel that manufacturers should implement sodium restrictions, and an even smaller share (34%) feel the government should do so. Customers want to choose for themselves how much sodium they consume and that they generally want to avoid regulation that will limit their food options.

More than half (59%) of respondents “always” or “usually” limit salt consumption when at home, while 44% “always” or “usually” do so when dining at a restaurant.

“This indicates that while restaurant chains can often benefit from sodium reduction initiatives, they are especially important for manufacturers of packaged foods, including those that make sauces, condiments, and other flavor enhancers often used to prepare meals at home,” adds Molly Maier.

Women (80%) are more likely than men (67%) to limit the amount of salt they cook with when dining at home. Hence retail signage and other materials designed to promote low-sodium meal elements such as reduced-sodium bottled sauces should often be directed at women, especially mothers and homemakers.

Consistent with the fact that they tend to be more health-conscious, women (25%) are more likely than men (18%) to state that they “always” consult sodium levels when shopping for foods. Similarly, while 22% of all respondents “always” assess sodium levels when shopping for foods, 32% of 55-64-year-olds report doing so along with 33% of those aged 65+. Thus, foods designed in large part for women and/or mature consumers are among those that should be considered for reformulation.

Meanwhile, there appears to be substantial demand for reduced-sodium packaged foods and restaurant items.  When it comes to low salt/sodium foods, 59% indicated that they have tried and would use such foods again in the future. An additional 16% have not tried reduced-sodium packaged foods, but would be interested in trying them.

About Mintel

Mintel is a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence. For 40 years, Mintel has provided insight into key worldwide trends, offering exclusive data and analysis that directly impacts client success. With offices in Chicago, New York, London, Sydney, Shanghai, Tokyo, and now India, Malaysia and Singapore, Mintel has forged a unique reputation as a world-renowned business brand. For more information on Mintel, please visit

Akron, Ohio-based Company acquires Juice Company in Houston, Texas

Akron, OH  (Food News)  Country Pure Foods, one of the nation’s largest independent juice processors, has announced the purchase of Cal-Tex Citrus Juice, LP.  This acquisition enhances Country Pure Foods’ manufacturing and distribution capabilities.

“The acquisition of Cal-Tex gives us the opportunity to extend our geographic reach by adding a fourth production facility, allowing us to better serve our national accounts with a combined broad product offering and improved delivery time to market,” said Raymond K. Lee, President and CEO, Country Pure Foods. “We will continue to look at other opportunities to broaden our manufacturing footprint as we complete our coast-to-coast strategy.”

“We are very enthusiastic about the strategic benefits of this transaction and look forward to offering our existing customers a wider range of products,” states Gary Van Liew, CEO of Cal-Tex Citrus Juice. “We believe the merger of our two companies will create a powerful combination that will benefit all our customers.”

Country Pure Foods will continue to operate the Cal-Tex plant located in Houston, Texas, and products will be consolidated under the Ardmore Farms brand.  In addition to the newly acquired Houston plant, Country Pure Foods has facilities in Akron, Ohio, Ellington, Conn. and Deland, Fla.  Gary Van Liew will remain with the combined Company and will serve as its Vice Chairman.

Country Pure Foods is a portfolio company of Mistral Equity Partners.  Mistral acquired Country Pure Foods in August, 2010 and the acquisition of Cal-Tex further illustrates Mistral’s stated objective to rapidly grow Country Pure Foods’ business through acquisition and product innovation.

About Country Pure Foods

Country Pure Foods makes individually packaged fresh fruit drinks, juices, and nectars.  Today, it is one of the nation’s largest independent processors of juice products for grocery and convenience stores, foodservice and contract manufacturing segments.  Multiple plant locations allow Country Pure Foods to efficiently service its nationwide customer base with a broad line of product packaging alternatives.  Private labeling and contract packaging are also available.  Country Pure Foods is SQF (Safe Quality Foods) Certified Level 3, the highest level attainable.

About Mistral Equity Partners

Mistral Equity Partners is a private equity firm comprised of highly experienced investment professionals and seasoned industry executives. The firm specializes in the consumer, retail, and consumer focused media sectors, and is especially attracted to businesses that are supported by strong demographic trends and fundamental changes in consumer preferences.

Recalled Products Were Produced Under the Hannaford Private Brand Label and Sold at Bottom Dollar Food Stores

Salisbury, NC  (Food News)  Bottom Dollar Food has issued a voluntary recall for two lot codes of Hannaford private brand taco dinner kits due to a manufacturer error.

Bottom Dollar Food received notification from the manufacturer of its private brand products that two Hannaford-branded taco dinner kit products may contain a milk allergen in chicken Caesar-flavored seasoning. The seasoning is not properly marked and was mistakenly included in the taco dinner kit by the manufacturer.  After learning of the error, the stores immediately pulled the product from shelves.

The recall includes:

  • The 12-count hard taco dinner kit sold under the Hannaford private brand label with UPC code 41268-17572, lot number ga-aug10125; and,
  • The hard/soft dinner kit sold under the Hannaford private brand label with UPC code 41268-17573, lot number ga-aug07125.

The recall is being issued in an abundance of caution, and customers who may have purchased the recalled product are urged to return the item to their local Bottom Dollar Food store for a full refund.

Hannaford Supermarkets stores are not affected by this recall.

About Bottom Dollar Food

Bottom Dollar Food, based in Salisbury, N.C., is redefining the discount grocery model by offering private brands and the national brands that matter most to customers, in addition to fresh produce and quality meats, at discount prices and in an energetic shopping environment. Bottom Dollar Food operates 47 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio. For more information, visit