Posts Tagged ‘food service’

What We’re Following: Foie Gras

July 1, 2012

The end of a long period of waiting has finally arrived: the 7 and a half year long difference from the signing of legislation to ban foie gras in California and the date the law goes into effect has finally shrunk to zero  (For more on the history of foie gras legislation, check out the companion to this post, our Foie Gras Timeline).  In light of this contentious landmark, we present here a condensed overview of the final months in this debate.  Please feel free to add any further resources in the comments below.  As this issue elicits so many strong emotions from both sides, all the articles below should be read with an eye toward an Op-Ed context. For readers with shy stomachs, some, perhaps, should not be read at all. Articles with particularly graphic description have been noted in our annotation.


Foie gras isn’t forever — John Burton, LA Times
Mr. Burton, who wrote the bill for the ban on foie gras nearly 8 years ago, revisits the conditions under which the law came to be. He highlights that a major factor in providing such a long grace period was to give farmers the opportunity to develop alternative means of producing foie gras that were less offensive to the animal’s nature. According to Mr. Burton, this is an agreement that has failed to produce the promised results.

Foie gras is torture in a tin. It’s time for a ban — Steven Berkoff, The Guardian
Opinions from across the pond, in England, where ‘gavage’ (but not the sale of foie gras) has been banned for some time now, and where the source of the dish, France, is closer to home. Mr. Berkoff focuses on the graphic detail of conditions in foie gras farms, but distinguishes between those found in America and France, with the latter being described as generally less humane.

Foie Gras Fighters Make False Resys to Thwart Service — Kat Odell, Eater
The title says it all. In the wake of the foie gras ban, the California culinary world has become increasingly confrontational, and this article takes a brief look at a few of the tactics being utilized.

Opponents: The CHEFS Movement

Chefs Say Foie Gras Ban Could Spread Beyond California — Elena Ferretti, Fox News
The headline does not get to the real meat of this article, which concerns threats allegedly received by several chefs over their insistence on continuing to prepare foie gras until the ban takes effect.

Waddling into the Sunset — Jesse McKinley, The New York Times
An almost-elegaic portrait of the steps taken in the weeks before the ban’s effect by those who oppose it, peppered with the commentary of those who support it. Some still hope for a successful appeal, while others are just hoping to enjoy their last taste of the versatile dish (at least until they head out-of-state, of course). The commentary by food-focused journalist Michael Pollen on the second page is worth clicking through for.

With foie gras ban, chefs say state is force-feeding morality — Jonathan Gold, LA Times
Mr. Gold presents the stance of chefs who favor foie gras in parallel to the move of so many individual Californian chefs removing Bluefin tuna from menus, in light of the threat of extinction for the fish.  He thereby argues that the chefs affected by this legislation are chefs whose sense of morality is well-adjusted, and fully in accordance with their menus.  This piece, probably the most opinionated of this post, is included for the clarity with which it seems to capture the general sentiment of the CHEFs members.


A Foie Gras Timeline

July 1, 2012

2004 – SB1520 passes in California, allowing producers 7.5 years to arrange a different means of foie gras production

2006 – Chicago passes law prohibiting the sale of foie gras within city limits, with 90-day grace period; meets with repeated deliberate infractions as a form of protest; only a single establishment fined — a gourmet hot dog stand

2008 – Chicago foie gras ban repealed, under criticism from then-mayor Daley

2012 – CHEFS, or, Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards, union of pro-foie Californian chefs formed by several well-known Californian chefs

             – Pro-foie chefs begin ‘foie-mageddon’, preparing an unprecedented number of foie-based dishes for patrons in anticipation of the law’s enactment; anti-foie activists attempt to thwart these statements by making false reservations, and picketing outside participating restaurants

             July 1 – California law enacted in full.


Further Reading:


Chicago Prohibits Foie Gras — Gretchen Ruethling, The New York Times

Chicago Overturns Foie Gras Ban — Nick Fox, The New York Times

‘Foie-Mageddon’ :

With Time Running Out, California Is Gorging Itself on Foie Gras — Ben Worthen, The Wall Street Journal


The CHEFS group is covered at length in our companion post —  What We’re Following: Foie Gras 

What We’re Following: School Lunches, Part 2

May 31, 2012

An ever-present topic for discourse, school lunches are back in our radar with recent federal and state legislation concerning the nature of food that can be served in the school, by official means through the cafeteria, as well as through unofficial means such as teachers handing out snacks as rewards and student organizations raising money with the traditional bake sale and other food-based initiatives. At issue are the rights of parents to decided, and effectively control, what their children eat throughout the day, the ability of school officials and teachers to maintain a constructive educational environment, and of course, the means by which student groups will be able to raise funds for special activities. Some of this legislation has been in the public eye, at least locally, for years, but only now, as the moment of full implementation approaches, does it present the real-life implications of its strictures. Here is an overview of the past month’s dialog over the new rules.

Hands on High School Lunches

Unique High School Food: A look at the most creative combinations of food and high school education — Nina Fomufod, The Daily Meal

Unique High School Food SLIDESHOWThe Daily Meal
This pair of links highlights the innovations going on at high schools nationwide as they make greater strides in connecting students with the source of their food.  Students farm, cook, and study their food in various degrees.  Check it out if you want some good news from the school lunch front!

If You Don’t Sell It, Fewer Will Eat It: The Effectiveness of California’s Curbs on In-School Junk Food — Bettina Elias Seigel, The Lunch Tray
Does not allowing schools to sell junk food mean students will compensate for lost calories at home, or will they just eat less junk food?  This is the question at the heart of Seigel’s post, where she takes into account the findings of a recent study on the topic. 

New State Nutrition Law Bans Bake Sales During School Hours — Janet Hefler, The Martha’s Vineyard Times
 New Massachusetts bill strikes hard and fast at ‘unhealthy’ food in schools, at least during school hours.  Concerns arise, however, when it comes to celebratory events, and treats sent from home, not to mention the widely popular fundraising effort known as the ‘bake sale’.

Educational Accoutrements

School Kitchen or Janitor’s Closet? You Decide — Bettina Elias Seigel, The Lunch Tray
Here we have Seigel’s blog a second time, where she highlights the cramped and ineffective conditions available to many schools for school lunch preparation.  The question is dutifully asked: is this really enough room to make healthy meals for a whole school?

A Tiny Fish Called Tilapia is Bringing Big Rewards to School — Phyllis Coulter, myJournalCourier: Jacksonville, IL
A look at a rural Illinois high school that takes pride in its “Grow Your Own” initiative, as they raise tilapia and several vegetables for its own cafeteria, despite continual budgeting issues. They hope to one day grow enough to sustain not only their own menu, but also others in the neighborhood through donation!

Basic Food Education

Why Burgers Look Amazing in Ads — Jessica Chou, The Daily Meal
A quick slice of insight into what it takes to produce images worthy of fast-food ads. 

An Update on Pink Slime

BPI to Close 3 Plants, Blaming Pink Slime Uproar — Grant Schulte, Detroit Free Press
Fallout continues from the Pink Slime outrage of earlier this year, as we see the damage done to former food giant Beef Products Inc over the controversy, and a glimpse at how that affects the community as a whole.  Wherever you stand on this issue, this is sure to be an interesting read.

What We’re Following: Local Food

May 15, 2012

The trend toward emphasizing local food shows no signs of stopping, if you follow the quantity, and quality, of reportage on it. The success of journalists like Michael Pollen, originator of “Food Rules” and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and countless controversial food industry documentaries, in the past few years has been a sign, as well as source, of the increasing attention being paid to where our food comes from.  No longer limited to the ranks of gourmands and young urban professionals, this interest in food, and the preference for local and organic sources has developed into an ubiquitous trend.  What’s more, urban centers have been taking the lead in the media, as producers and restaurants adapt to changing tastes, increasing awareness, within city limits. We’ve assembled here some of the most interesting articles of the past few months:

Local Flavor

Founding Farmers Cultivate New Ground — Bob Krummert, Restaurant Hospitality

Craft Beers Driving Up Sales — Amanda Baltazar, Restaurant Management Magazine

Taking Local to the Next Level — Sonya Chudgar, Restaurant Management Magazine

In an Old Chicago Meat Plant, Greens and Fish Grow — Martha Irvine, Seattle PI

Food’s Impact on Rebuilding New Orleans — Olga Bonfiglio, Huffington Post

Which State Eats the Most Local Foods — Marcy Franklin, The Daily Meal

Learning the Source

‘Farm To School’ Food Reaches 500K

School Lunches From Scratch May Soon Be a Nationwide

Universities Banning Bottled Water on Campus — Jodi S Cohen, The Kansas City Start

What We’re Following: School Lunches

April 29, 2012

While never exactly far from public scrutiny, public school lunches have shot to the top of the headlines in recent weeks following the start of the Pink Slime controversy. Here we provide excerpts from the current dialogue, and a healthy bit of retrospective on where this dialogue, so consistently laden with morally-evocative rhetoric, has been in recent years.


Chef Ann Cooper Explains School Lunch — Dana Woldow, Beyond Chron

Sixth Graders Write Op-Ed to Protest 10-Minute Lunch Period — Bettina Elias Siegel, The Lunch Tray

11 Minutes To Eat School Lunch?!? — Tom Philpott, Mother Jones

School Lunch Fraud Goes to Grand Jury — Joy O., Gather News

Under the Shadow of Pink Slime

New School Lunch Rules Call for Colorful Menus — Le Mars Daily Sentinal

School Lunches From Scratch May Soon Be a Nationwide Reality — Diets in Review

‘Farm to School’ Food Reaches 500k Students — FoodServiceNews


…And a Refresher From the ‘Pizza is a Vegetable’ Controversy of Last Year

No, Congress did not declare pizza a vegetable — Sarah Kliff, The Washington Post

What We’re Following: Food Trucks

April 24, 2012

A staple in some parts of the country for years now, food trucks are growing in popularity in new markets, bringing them to the forefront of local policy in many areas. Licensing incompatibilities, concerns over food safety and community eating habits, and concern over the effects of low-cost, low-price mobile eating hubs on established brick-and-mortar restaurants and eateries have brought these mobile food providers into the courts and legislation halls all over North America. Meanwhile, the news has seen reportage on why these providers are so controversial, and what place they hold in the food service industry as a whole, often providing a low-overhead, low-start-up-cost entry into the restaurant world for young chefs (who sometimes later make the jump to brick-and-mortar establishments), but also, perhaps surprisingly, appearing as a viable opportunity for the expansion of established restaurant brands. Here’s a look at what we’ve been reading with regard to food trucks in America:

Legal Issues

Letters: Threat to Food Trucks in Baton Rouge — The Advocate

Midwest Food Trucks Hit Legal Roadblocks — Changing Gears

Chicago Food Trucks Steer Around Legal Speedbumps — Mobile-Cuisine

Danger Zone for DC’s Food Trucks — The Washington Post

Food Truck Roadblock — The Chicago Reader

Food Trucks vs Traditional Restaurants

City Council Not Lovin’ Burger King’s Food Truck Idea — Gothamist

Food Trucks as a Vehicle to Sit-Down Restaurant Success — The LA Times

Food Truck Fad Comes to Fine Hotels Hawking Restaurant Fare — USA Today

Food Trucks Taking a Bite out of Restaurants — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Food Trucks Shift From Road to Restaurant — American Public Media, Marketplace

The Atlanta Food Truck Park to open this month — Access Atlanta

What We’re Following: Daily Deal Sites

April 16, 2012

So-called “daily deal” online businesses sprouted up during the Recession, but as economic concerns lighten, we’re seeing increased reporting on the controversial economic effects of these deals. The questions are mounting: will “daily deal” providers survive in periods of economic growth, when local business owners may be less interested in giving massive discounts, or will they need to change their business model, and if so, in which direction will they move? What’s more, how will consumers who have come to rely on these deals react to such a change? Here’s a collection of the stories we found most interesting with regard to daily deals, and a reactionary movement identified as “Cash Mobs”.

Daily Deals

Daily Coupon Deals May Not Work for Buyers, Sellers — USA Today

When Today’s Deal is Tomorrow’s Regret — The New York Times

Why do Daily Deal Customers Leave Harsher Yelp Reviews? —

Should Your Restaurant Participate in a Group-Buying Deal? — Open Forum, American Express

Cash Mobs

Cash Mobs, the Anti-Groupon, Are Coming to a Store Near You — Good Business

”Cash Mobs” Gather to Splurge in Locally Owned Stores

Cash Mobs Blog — WordPress

Changes On the Horizon

LivingSocial Launches Food Delivery Web Site — The Daily Meal

What We’re Following: Pink Slime

April 10, 2012

Who online isn’t following the debate around ‘pink slime’ lately? We’ve collected here a few of the more interesting articles, both concerning pink slime itself, and one of the principle battlegrounds: school lunches, where there seems to be a growing dialog over educating students on the “How-To” and “Where-From” of their food.

Pink Slime

BPI and Pink Slime: A Timeline — Food Safety News

‘Pink Slime’ Beef Manufacturer Suspends Production At 3 Of 4 Plants Amid Outcry — Huffington Post

School Lunches

New School Lunch Rules Call for Colorful Menus — Le Mars Daily Sentinal

School Lunches From Scratch May Soon Be a Nationwide Reality — Diets in Review

‘Farm to School’ Food Reaches 500k Students — FoodServiceNews

Ditch the Mystery Meat — QSR, via

Getting ‘Pink Slime’ Out of Cafeterias Not Easy — The Epoch Times

Enjoy! Feel free to add other articles in the comments section. We’d love to hear what you think about this!

PEN Pals Surveys: Why They Matter

February 20, 2012

Who are we?

PEN Pals is a community dedicated to bringing better products to the marketplace based on the opinions of those who know best: the food service professionals who rely on them.  We believe your expert opinions should be held in the highest consideration when new products are developed for market, since this goes a long way to ensuring they have true, lasting value in the real world of food service.  In other words, we want your help to ensure that the products made available to your kitchens are the products that benefit you the most.

So what difference does it make?

By giving your opinion, you tell manufacturers exactly what you need from new products.  As a result, the products that ultimately reach market tend to be far more useful to the food service operators who need them, carrying value beyond even the original estimation, and solving problems that only food service operators could identify.  What’s more, costs for developing new products decrease, resulting in an overall more affordable, more effective, and more advanced marketplace for everyone.

What does involvement look like, day-to-day?

PEN Pals is primarily an on-line survey panel—one that has been designed to best accommodate your busy schedules, on your terms.  We will alert you every few weeks when a new survey is available to you, then you complete it whenever is most convenient to you, within a healthy window.  Surveys tend to take an average of just 15 minutes, because we know you’ve got a lot on your mind.  For your time, you also receive points which can be spent on any of the gifts we offer our members, including Amazon and Chefs Club gift cards.  More information on specific rewards can be found on our website.

PEN Pals membership is reserved for restaurant owners, head chefs, and others who are in charge of making purchasing decisions for their respective establishment.  For more information, visit our website:, like us on Facebook, or email us at

Thank you for your time; we look forward to hearing from you!