Culinary Pride: Foodservice Week October 2-8, 2022

Posted on October 3rd, 2022

Each sub-unit of the Food & Nutrition Team plays a vital role that supports both the internal and external guest. As we prepare to celebrate the efforts of our Foodservice teams this year, let’s take a moment to focus on all the individual parts that comprise a well-working whole.
Do your sub-units maximize their contributions? Let’s take a look from the dock, in…

Procurement: the “Tip of the Spear”. During this unprecedented supply chain climate, have you reviewed your par levels/days-of-stock-on-hand (DSO’s)? Best practice is to maintain 5 days perishable/10 days non-perishable. This does not include the 96-hour emergency reserve.
Does purchasing keep ahead of need? Ordering strategy should “protect the inventory” meaning that no product is received in the day, for the day. This preserves first-in, first-out (FIFO) and greatly reduces stress for colleagues looking for what they need next.

Production: The Girdle. More than foundational, the way prep is handled cinches tight your operation. Beyond tallies and HACCP logs, have you taken time to streamline your production methodology so that the least amount of effort is necessary to execute “the last mile”? Potion control, storage, prep vessels, should all be designed so that there should be nothing left to do when that item is ordered except to add heat and plate.

Great mise en place equals great service. Prepare for no more and no less than three days of projected service. This provides for purposeful prep, no scrambling, and best food quality.

Turnout and Trayline: The Heart of the House. This is the turning point where Back of House efforts become guest-facing. Here coordination and collaboration are paramount. Yes, regulatory temperature, diet execution, and sanitation are critical, yet are your colleagues cohesive or is it “us and them”? Empower and authorize both sides to be accountable for guest delight as they are the “last line of defense” against inferior meal service.
Trayline workers must be made to feel comfortable correcting or asking for a re-plate if the meal is not accurate. Pictures of finished plates should be made available to both sides to ensure that food is consistently accurate. Additionally, cooks have every right to ask trayline staff, professionally of course, to “be gentle” or “check that spill” if observed. Foster a camaraderie conducive to the best patient care possible.

Delivery: The Ambassadors. Whether intentionally designated as such, meal delivery personnel are the ambassadors of the department to the guests and hospital units. Everyone sees them, and, subsequently, creates an image of the FANS brand outside of the unit. Courtesy and guest delight are more than survey questions, they must be embraced and practiced every day, every tray.
Are your truly front-line staff able to interface with nursing and work together for better outcomes? Do they employ suggestive “selling” when assisting patients with meal ordering? Are they comfortable sharing the good and the bad with the Culinary Team to improve service? Feedback is invaluable for Team improvement…encourage that!

Utility/Sanitation: The base of the pyramid. Regardless of the prowess of the culinary team, nothing happens if there aren’t clean, hot plates to serve. So often overlooked until the unit is short-staffed, this team holds the entire operation together.
Often the best first job in the hospital, what can you do to train, educate, and promote these entry-level folks. Do they get out-and-about more than pulling soiled carts and dumpster runs? Once proficient in the dish room, find ways to include them and encourage personal growth. Reinforce their importance publicly and coach the rest of the staff to help wherever possible to make their jobs easier.

Retail: The External Face. A meeting place, a break from the action, nourishment. The café is an oasis of comfort for colleagues and visitors alike. And all guests are under some level of stress.
Create a welcoming environment that nurtures everyone in this public space. Does your grill cook understand the importance of their job? Are your areas clean and organized to provide the most convenient possible service without “extra work” on the part of the guest? Look for ways to add joy and surprise to the dining experience.

Catering: The Internal Face. Though currently limited, how the catering department performs creates the staff’s perception of FANS throughout the facility. Catering associates are the marketing arm of the unit and are key to fostering intramural relationships.
Embrace events from the angle of outreach to the client department with a goal of creating stronger bonds of collaboration. Are your catering associates savvy to current events of all areas in the department? They can act as de facto town criers that can build empathy between departments. Make sure they are leading with positive reporting when they are out and about.

Bottom line: Focus the team on ‘Guest delight versus Customer Satisfaction’. Service that is transactional can provide satisfaction. Hospitality goes to the next level; it happens for you, not to you.

“You are personally responsible for your guests’ happiness while they are under your roof.”
– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin