special diets professional kitchen

Taking special diets into account in the professional kitchen

The number of special diets has increased in the last decades. Preparing diet meals is often considered as a challenging and time consuming job. With good planning you can, however, manage the amount of work. A kitchen system will help the professional kitchen in managing special diets and allergens.

By Matleena Autio

The number of special diets followed by different reasons has increased in the last decades. Reasons for following special diets can be numerous. Health related reasons are, for example, bowel diseases and diabetes, as well as different types of allergies and hypersensitivities. Food restrictions are related to many religions, as well, for example fasting or cutting out certain foods. In addition, different types of vegetarian diets have grown in popularity. This can be seen in the supermarkets, as well, where the assortment for plant based food items has increased. Many consumers have added the consumption of plant based foods in their diet even if they continue consuming meat, as well.

Eating is one of the basic needs of humans, and there are numerous psychological and physical functions related to it. Eating for comfort or strong disliking towards certain foods are familiar phenomenon to most of us. So you should always respect the diet your customer has announced, even if your own opinion was different, and you should always take special diets seriously. For example, diets based on religion or ethical reasons are very personal things and they can have a big significance on how a person sees herself, as well as on her feeling of control in life.

Allergies can be life threatening and in celiac disease the tiniest amount of cereal will cause serious damage in the intestines. The amount of people seeking care because of allergies has increased significantly during the past years. One reason for the allergies to become more common might be better recognition of the symptoms. Unnecessary diets where you avoid foods based on health issues are not recommendable.

 

Managing allergens safely and appropriately

Diets where you avoid foods put a big strain on food service operations in schools, for example. Announced allergy is always taken seriously in the kitchen and even small amounts of ingredients including the allergenic are usually taken out of the person’s diet altogether. For this reason it is very important that allergies and mild hypersensitivities are separated from each other already when announcing the diet. For example, a person who is allergic to tomato needs a diet where even the tiniest amounts of tomato – which could be one ingredient in a sauce, for example – have been removed. A person who is hypersensitive to tomato might get symptoms from tomato only when it is uncooked or if she eats bigger amounts of tomato. You don’t have to take tomato completely out of the diet of this kind of person, it is sufficient that she has the possibility to choose some other item instead of fresh tomato.

The line between allergy and hypersensitivity is not always that clear, and for example cross allergic symptoms related to pollen allergies might vary depending on the season. So, in unclear cases it is important to check the customer’s situation instead of guessing if some ingredient is suitable for her diet or not.

The law requires that food labels identify the food source names of all major food allergens used to make the food (FDA). In JAMIX Kitchen Intelligence System you can add information on ingredients, as well as on allergens included in them, into the nutritive value. The user can choose which allergens are included in the nutritive data and the information runs accurately through the system.

You can also add information on diets into recipes, which indicates their suitability for customers with those diets. The information runs through the system from ingredients and recipes to menus that can be published for the customers easily from the system. Keeping the allergen information up-to-date in the system and checking the information on a regular basis is, however, extremely important.

 

 

Customer comes first – also when it comes to special diets

You need to take special diets carefully into account also in the possible transportation or presentation and serving of food. Information related to health and conviction is private and when presenting food you should make sure that this information is visible only to those, who need it.

Preparing diet meals is often considered as a challenging and time consuming job. With good planning you can, however, manage the amount of work and often the nutritive quality of the items will be improved at the same time.

When planning and preparing diet meals you do not only take out the ingredients to be avoided from the diet, but you need to replace them with some other item suitable for the customer. A beef soup will not be turned into a vegetable soup if you take out the beef consomme powder and the beef, but you should replace the beef with a plant based protein and change the flavor ingredient into a vegetable based one. Sometimes it is more appropriate to change the entire course than try to prepare a matching main course option for the customers with special diets.

When talking about special diets, it is good to keep in mind that the customer always has the right to decide what she eats. When the recipes for different diets are ready in the system, even the more exceptional wishes can be fulfilled with small effort and in a safe way.

Jamix Kitchen Intelligence System

Jamix has been digitally fighting against food waste already for 30 years

Jyväskylä, Finland – April 21, 2020

Food service operators and restaurants are making efforts for fighting against food waste, as responsibility and the carbon footprint of food are emphasized more and more. The economical aspect is of course significant, as well – food waste causes major losses. Jamix, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, has created a digital tool for professional kitchens enabling accurate orders for ingredients, as well as providing calculations for the carbon footprint of food and nutritive values. The company has grown into being the market leader in Finland, and has gained a foothold internationally, as well, especially in the United States.

Mikko Jaatinen, Founder and CEO of JamixJamix is a pioneer in its field. Mikko Jaatinen, CEO and founder of the company, started to develop the system in the beginning of 1990, when ingredients were ordered to the kitchen by telephone and quantities were based on rough estimates. This tended to result in huge amounts of wastage, and it was hard for the kitchens to monitor if they were staying on budget.

– The customer’s budget might have been used already by November, so for the rest of the year you had potatoes to work with. The daily routines have changed a lot in the professional kitchen during 3 decades. Today the budgets are planned carefully, there are several special diets being served and the origin and the environmental effects of food are taken into account, says Jaatinen.

One of the system’s users is Omnia education and training center in Espoo, Finland. Around 1000 diners visit Omnia’s restaurants daily. According to Tarja Hämäläinen, Omnia’s Services Manager, they have been able to reduce the amount of wastage significantly and the use of time has become more efficient, as well.

– Before we implemented Jamix, orders were made by telephone and recipes had to be developed by ourselves. There were huge amounts of waste, as there were no precise amounts for ingredients in the recipes.

The amount of food waste decreased by around 400 pounds a week

Omnia has made many efforts for reducing wastage. Trays have been taken away, and instead there is a so called generic plate. You take soups and other food on the same plate which results in appropriate portion sizes. The customers are reminded about reducing wastage and Omnia collects customer feedback continuously so that there would be as many preferred options on the menu as possible.

– With these actions we have been able to reduce the amount of food waste by 350-450 pounds a week. That means that we have gotten rid of the cost of one food waste container. We are hoping to implement a scale for food waste, as well. It would make the amount of waste more visible both to our customers and to us, says Hämäläinen.

Huge market in the United States

Today Jamix is the market leader in the domestic market and most of the foodservice operators and restaurants in Finland use its system. Jamix has grown internationally, as well, and it has made major contracts especially in the United States. One of Jamix’s customers is Yale Hospitality, where the system is used in 16 Colleges, 11 Cafés, as well as in a large commissary kitchen and a bakery. Yale Hospitality prepares 18.000 meals a day.  The market potential in the United States is huge: There are 67.000 kitchens within the College & University Food Services alone.

– I believe that we are well equipped for reaching our targets with the strategy we have chosen, that is through college and university kitchens. Our advantage in the US market is, that our system is cutting edge. The customers have been amazed by its web-based user interface, usability and versatile features.

The United States has proven to be an interesting market where the right contacts have been essential in going forward.

– Coincidence plays a small role in everything, and for us becoming acquainted with a resptected and well-known person in the food service industry has had a big impact. We are currently negotiating with several universities and are hoping to be able to publish a new, major contract in the near future, tells Jaatinen, living in Boston since 2018.

About Jamix

Jamix is a Finnish company specializing in cutting-edge restaurant software for professional hospitality and food service operations to plan and organize recipe, menu, inventory and ordering management, and internal logistics. Founded in 1990 by a young Finnish student, in 30 years Jamix has grown from a small local business into a software company with 2500 + clients all over the world. Headquartered in Jyväskylä, Finland, the Jamix US office is based in the Boston. “Thousands of customers use Jamix to produce over one million meals, every day!”

www.jamix.com

Jamix 30 Years Anniversary

Jamix has been Making Kitchens Work Already For 30 Years

JAMIX originated from a recipe program made by Mikko Jaatinen. The local vocational school became interested in the program and after that, the program was sold at a fast pace to dozens of professional kitchens already within the first year. Soon, custom programs were built to manage inventory and meal orders. These three programs together formed a comprehensive professional kitchen management system for all sizes and types of kitchens.

For the first few years, Mikko Jaatinen took care of everything alone. As the business grew, more employees were hired. At the turn of the century, the customer-base already consisted of a wide range of both public and private-sector companies. The software was continuously developed, and the number of customers increased steadily. After the mid-2000s, JAMIX received an inquiry from Australia: Mikko and his family left for Australia and started export business.

As the operating systems developed, the JAMIX program was re-created in the 2010s as a web-based version. The company’s customer base grew and its staff as well. In the late 2010s, the focus of exports was shifted to the United States. Mikko Jaatinen repacked his belongings and moved to the United States to be closer to potential customers. As a result of the major export project, JAMIX signed an agreement with Yale Hospitality in 2019.

Listening to customers’ needs, uninterrupted product development, and enthusiasm for developing solutions to facilitate the daily work of professional kitchens have been the base of JAMIX for 30 years. Today, over 1.000.000 meals a day are prepared with JAMIX software. As we move into the new decade, the program is being developed more than ever.

Ron DeSantis Certified Master Chef

Environmental eating is an emerging trend

Students are interested in the environmental impact of the food they are served. Having a kitchen intelligence system with CO2 values provides both foodservice operators and their customers information on the environmental impact of food. This is one of the topics in the following newsletter by Certified Master Chef Ron DeSantis.

Food Is Just the Beginning™
by Ron DeSantis

Volume 3 Issue 4
April 2020

CulinaryNXT
200 Totoket Rd
Branford, CT 06405
203-415-9190

www.culinarynxt.com

Come On, Already!

While considering what to write in this space I decided that I will be your 3-minute getaway from the Covid-19 news. Since that is THE daily topic, you don’t need more from me. So……

How do we get out this tangled mess? It seems that every conference room has a mass of tangled wires for our technology. When will we get rid of this mess? Really, we have wireless earpieces, Bluetooth to the car media, and on and on but we can’t figure out how to clean up a conference room?!

Cheers!

Master Chef Insights

Food Platform

Thinking of food as a platform is a way to do more with less. What that means in an operation is – what recipes can be prepared using a limited number of ingredients? Oh, and customers want to be amazed with each menu item.

One example that helps me explain a food platform in practice is okonomiyaki. This delicious, simple “cabbage pancake” from Japan is a practical way to explore a food platform.

Fundamentally okonomiyaki is shredded cabbage held together with pancake batter. It is seasoned, fried (ok sautéed, but we’re talking about street food here) and topped with a burst of flavor drizzles. Chef Gerry Ludwig was ahead of his time in 2008 when he wrote and talked about okonomiyaki. Since 2008, restaurants have opened with okonomiyaki as the star menu item.

How this all relates to a food platform is due to the versatility of okonomiyaki. What I’ve discovered is that okonomiyaki is adaptable to all global cuisines. When a chef starts with cabbage and pancake batter, she can flavor it any which way. The platform is cabbage and batter. Seasonings and toppings create the final dish. Add conventional beef or plant-based beef to the available ingredients and the okonomiyaki can become vegan, or a meat-eater’s delight. The possibilities are limited only be the chef’s imagination.

Thinking in terms of food platforms allows chefs to offer many menu choices with a smaller inventory.

Culinary & more…

Kitchen Tech – CO2 Value of Menu Items

On March 6, 2020 Yale Daily News reported that students wanted to know more details about the environmental impact of the food they were served. Almost 1,000 students responded to a survey conducted by 2 seniors. The results showed that 86% of students want ”to see environmental impact ratings” of the food in the dining halls. As interesting is that 62% of students claimed they had made food choices based on posters in the dining halls showing the environmental impact of the food.

This is likely the early phase of environmental eating in college & university (C&U) dining. One of the challenges for C&U operators will be access to detailed environmental information related to the food chain. In the student survey, students were specifically interested in the CO2 footprint of the food served.

Jamix Kitchen Intelligence Systems has a CO2 function built in. The CO2 core ingredients are part of the Jamix system. As a chef builds a recipe the CO2 is calculated for each recipe. This information is carried into the menu design feature of Jamix. This provides managers with clear CO2 footprint information at the recipe and menu levels of the system.

Many C&U operators believe trends begin in C&U. I’m not sure about all trends, but certain trends do start in C&U. Environmental eating is, I believe, one of those trends. Having the right kitchen intelligence systems keeps managers on point with these trends.

Quarantine Pantry

In March I sent out a special newsletter about preparing meals using food from your pantry. I followed up with a video that my daughter did with me, and her friend edited. Then my friends at Hormel Foods tied this into a great service piece with many chefs about cooking from the pantry. Here’s a link.

Ingredient of the Month

Bacon! Looking back on my newsletters I discovered I haven’t put bacon as the ingredient of the month. Well, here it is.

The problem is – what does one say about bacon? Everyone is a bacon expert. Everyone has a favorite bacon. There are even “cult” bacons like Neuske’s. What I’ll share is why I believe bacon is so popular.

Delicious. Yup, bacon is delicious. It has the right balance of meat, fat, smoke, and salt.

Versatile. Bacon can be used in so many ways. It can be the center-of-the-plate, or a flavor enhancer. Chef David Burke made the bacon clothesline a signature menu item in his restaurants. There are desserts with elements of bacon. In other words, bacon is way more than a great accompaniment with eggs in the morning.

In fact, my first cooking assignment as an 18 year old (know it all) Marine at MCRD San Diego was to cook the bacon for breakfast. I figured this was too easy for me, until a pan in the rotating oven tipped, spilling bacon grease in the oven and the oven caught on fire. Needless to say, no bacon that morning, I learned I didn’t know everything, and there were A LOT of ticked off Marines!

Finally, my last comment is – bacon CAN be too crispy. I know I might be one of the few people in the world that might say that, but it’s true. Consider preparing a glace de viande. There is a fine line between perfect flavor and over-reduced. The same goes for bacon. There is a fine line between, just done and too crispy. Fine that perfect point and you’ll be rewarded with the best that this ingredient offers.

Cooking Tip

Sautéing/Pan-frying. First terminology. For me, sauté is the same word as frying. Deep-frying is something else. Panfrying is sautéing/frying in a bit more fat and often with something breaded.

Here’s the information I wish to share – make sure the pan is hot. The amount of fat, to me, is not as important as the pan temperature. Too cool and food sticks. Too hot and it burns. When I start cooking, I put my saute pan on the stove and turn the heat on low. Then I continue my prep. This way the pan is already getting conditioned and it’s a small jump to higher, ready-to-cook temperature.

Once the pan is hotter, add oil. When the oil starts to smoke (lightly, if it’s billowing blue smoke, you’re not going to be happy and it’s become dangerous!), it’s time to add the food. Only add enough food to almost cover the pan surface. And DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING. When food is added, the temperature of the pan’s surface has to recover. If it left alone, it seems to recover more quickly. Now fry the food until it’s properly done.

These are my frying tips. Have fun with your culinary experiences!

Buon appetito.

CulinaryNXT is a food service advisory practice drawing on Ron DeSantis’ 30 years of experience in all facets of the food industry. Ron is one of only 70 Certified Master Chefs worldwide and has advised organizations of all sizes and types. His strengths include culinary innovation, menu and recipe development, culinary assessment, bottom-line results, and communication skills that allow him to implement solutions  effectively.

CulinaryNXT’s base is in New Haven, but its reach is truly global. CulinaryNXT’s relationships extend to numerous countries around the world in a client and alliance network that has been built over many years. These relationships provide both global support and local knowledge.