Lintons’ menu-planning process
“The menu drives the Food Service operation”. An instructor, for the Foundations of Professional Cooking course, hammered this principle into the heads of culinary professionals the first few weeks of culinary school. That message still resonates nearly 20 years later. Designing menus that are enticing, nutritionally sound, and financially responsible while balancing available equipment, labor skill sets, and storage, are crucial to a successful operation.
The Culinary Development team, comprised of Bryan Schmidt, Director of Culinary Development, and Ellie Fraser, Culinary Development Specialist, design a variety of menus: for schools, healthcare facilities that offer texturized meals, behavioral health facilities, and residential communities that span several states, all with different tastes and menu requirements.
At Lintons, the Culinary Development team makes a strategic effort to ensure the menus in all sectors offer meals that present well, taste great, and are received with excitement by the consumer, resident, and student. It is a team effort though; incorporating feedback from unit directors, managers, and clients that truly understand our consumer preferences is crucial to the process. Sometimes regional flavors popular in the South aren’t received well in Philadelphia. Or a meal that sounds appetizing to an adult, wouldn’t be well received by an elementary student. Lintons understands the need to be flexible and adapt to preferences in our programs to ensure satisfaction.
Lintons has a detailed process when we create or modify menus. In the menu planning “off-season”, we work directly with manufacturers to sample and test new products so the development of new recipe concepts can begin. When the time comes for menu review, we work hand in hand with key unit personnel to remove items that are not well received by residents and students, and add items that have been recently developed with staff in mind. Along the way, confirming the meals are cohesive in their offerings, nutritionally sound, and offer enough variety and menu mix. We rely on several menu planning software programs and members of our Culinary Development team to build them. Additionally, the close working relationship with our primary suppliers ensures our product volume needs are met, providing consistency throughout the seasonal menu cycle. Lastly, display menus are customized by Lintons Marketing professionals for print and the Client’s website.
Effective menu planning and execution is an essential practice for Foodservice Professionals. While the process poses many challenges, the result is satisfying on so many levels!
In the photo above: The Lintons Culinary Development team designs a variety of menus, including texturized meals offered at healthcare facilities.