Every year, members of the Industry segment of the School Nutrition Association gear up for what we call “school show season.” We travel from state to state and participate in each association’s annual School Nutrition Conference. We set up our booths, catch up with our industry peers, mingle with our customers, and try to “sell our wares,” as my friend Joey says. But as a member of the Equipment delegation of Industry, often we find that state shows are more about food than our hardware. It’s understandable, considering that food makes up the largest expenditure for every school nutrition operation. Still, it can be frustrating because as sales people we are at the mercy of that goal we have to hit.
For years, I have heard about the Georgia Equipment Academy, a three-day conference occurring every other year that focuses solely on equipment and technology. In 2016 I was finally able to attend my first GEA to see what all the buzz was about. I have to tell you, I was blown away. We were lucky enough to be selected in the Hoodless Cooking class (each conference is broken up into categories voted on by need) and were able to conduct five 30-minute sessions over the three-day period. Each session is attended by about 20 decision makers. Not only are we allowed to educate about our equipment, we get to perform live demonstrations to show the “proof in the pudding,” so to speak. Local food vendors donate food for demos and dealers, reps, manufacturers, and the Georgia School Nutrition Association work hand in hand to make the conference a unique experience. Honestly, for what we do, it is the best show I’ve ever participated in, and for the directors, it allows them to truly learn about technology that can advance their programs without any distractions.
Winston Foodservice was proud to participate in the 2018 Georgia Equipment Academy. We are debuted our new CVap RTV Retherm Oven in the Hoodless Cooking category. Hope you had the opportunity to participate!
There are so many sensory delights to appreciate in a properly roasted turkey. The skin should have a consistent golden brown hue and a crisp texture that is audible when met with a knife (or a pair of fingers trying to filch a tidbit before it goes to the table). The breast meat should be tender and juicy while the dark meat should be succulent and toothsome. The aroma should be rich and intoxicating, filling the kitchen with a scent that is tangible and evokes memories of Thanksgiving or holiday feasts.
Brining is an option many cooks exercise though we don’t do it every time we roast a turkey. When we do, a couple of our favorite concoctions include salt + sugar + paprika + granulated garlic + granulated onion + peppercorns + water or salt + sugar + aromatics (onion, carrot, celery) + thyme + rosemary + Italian parsley + bay leaves + water. The benefit of brining a turkey is to impart additional flavor to the bird and to add moisture. Of course, if the turkey is cooked correctly, brining is unnecessary! In the tests we did for this post, the birds were not brined. Nor were they stuffed. While stuffing a turkey may be a tried and true part of cooking a Thanksgiving feast for many, we discourage the practice. In order to get the stuffing inside the bird to a safe endpoint temperature, you risk sacrificing the moistness of the white meat by overcooking it.
In one test, we roasted a 10 lb. turkey in a CVap Cook and Hold Oven (CAC) with the Food Temperature set at 190°F, Browning Level at 8, and we cooked it for three hours with Constant Cook ON.
In another test we cooked a bird in a CAC at 180°F with a Browning level of 6 for five hours with Constant Cook ON. As you can see, this test yielded skin that was not as brown or quite as crisp as the other test.
An alternative suggestion might be to cook a turkey at 175 + 0 to end point doneness and then either flash fry or flash roast it to brown and crisp up the skin. Using this method will yield extremely tender and juicy meat.
No matter which of these methods you use, the moral to this story is that a perfectly cooked turkey is something to be very thankful for!
Mark your calendar! Your opportunity to apply for the 2018 Winston Equipment Award is December 1, 2017!
The award provides ten pieces of Winston Foodservice equipment to a school district in need of improving its school meal kitchen facilities through a competitive grant process.
The winning school district can choose any ten pieces from Winston’s product line of CVap Holding Cabinets, CVap Hold & Serve Drawers, and CVap Retherm Ovens.
Winston works closely with the grant winner to determine needs and assist in the final selection of equipment. Winston also arranges delivery of the equipment to the district. Depending on which models are ordered, it could mean over $50,000 in new equipment for your district!
To apply, you must:
- Be an active SNA director-level member, who has been a member of SNA for at least one year.
- Be the person responsible for directing the school nutrition program for the school district.
How can I apply?
The School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) will open the 2018 Winston Equipment Award application process on December 1st, 2017. The deadline for the application is January 15th, or once the first 75 applications have been received (whichever comes first). The application spots usually fill up quickly, so don’t delay in applying!
Want to hit the ground running? Prepare your application ahead of time by downloading the Application Preparation Worksheet. Responses may be copied and pasted from the worksheet into the online application. Visit https://www.schoolnutrition.org/equipmentgrants to learn more.
Best of luck to all of you!
One of the things we love about exhibiting at the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference is having the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the folks who use our equipment every day. Here are some unscripted comments these great folks offered during 2017’s conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
School Nutrition’s Annual National Conference and Exhibit
San Antonio, Texas, is the seventh most populated city in the United States and the dry 100 degree days in July are HOT! It was definitely cooler inside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, but the action and learning was just as hot as the south central Texas days outside.
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) Annual National Conference pulls members and vendors from all across the U.S. and is likely one of the most fun events you can attend each year as a K-12 professional. We always have a great time and a great theme in the Winston booth. This year we were dedicated to Mission: Possible!
And like always, we dressed, played and had fun with the part!
This may have been one of our most active times at this yearly conference so far. Fans of CVap stopped to learn and have fun in droves.
Everyone enjoyed the Winston “Selfie Station,” nights on the Riverwalk, The Annual Membership, Star Club Breakfast, and so much more.
Honestly I have about a hundred photos and trying to choose which ones to post was not easy! My favorite though, was this shot at the airport as we were all leaving to go home. One of many examples I saw while everyone waited to board their respective flights. Another awesome time at SNA’s ANC with your CVap friends at Winston!
Working with State and National School Nutrition Associations
The School Nutrition State Conference schedule started in March. Alabama and Oregon were the first to kick off their events from March 11-12. I’m fortunate enough to serve on both the Executive Board and the Exhibit or Expo Board in Alabama as an Industry member. I also serve as the Industry representative to the Membership committee for the School Nutrition National Association. That’s why I’m very proud of the work Alabama has accomplished in recent years. Alabama’s School Nutrition membership has had steady growth for the last four years. I’ve actually witnessed the sheer amount of people that now attend the Conference and Expo compared to 2012.
With every State Conference and Exhibit it’s all about support. All of the State Associations run with varying degrees of staff and help depending on the support they get. One major factor is industry support. These are the companies that buy space at annual exhibits to show food products, kitchen equipment, software and other technology that could easily help each kitchen run more efficiently.
As each vendor gets ready to load in, the first day looked like this:
But in just a few hours it looked like this:
Some states have two-day shows with selected hours on the floor of the exhibition that are designated strictly for purchasers. Alabama had a one-day show this year. Typically, each state tries to mix things up to get the best out of what is likely their biggest support event of the year.
Most of the time the conference eclipses with an awards banquet. This year it was exceptional…particularly for me.
I work with a School Nutrition Foundation committee assigned to interviewing School Nutrition Heroes. These are people who not only perform in their jobs, but actually work in the program. They go above and beyond, sometimes with difficult odds and outcomes to help super serve their communities. These people are honored each year along with a new group of five at School Nutrition’s Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C.
Alabama is one of only two states that has two heroes. 2013’s Karen Watson from Sylacauga City Schools (left) and 2016’s Samantha Ingram from Geneva County Schools (right).
No doubt I have gotten as much from the experience as they have, just by knowing them and seeing the things they’ve accomplished. This photo was taken less than two weeks after Samantha was honored in DC at the Alabama SNA awards banquet. It really is all about support. The membership, the State Association, the Vendors, Superintendents, Principals, PTA, and on and on. A lot of effort from a lot of different places. But I can tell you, in my experience, the reward is awesome.
I have the pleasure of being Winston Industries’ School Nutrition Guru, so I get to travel the U.S. and see and talk to School Nutrition departments of all kinds. Many are similar in structure, but really the personality of each district is based on those people who serve and are served by it. It naturally makes me proud to see Winston equipment in so many kitchens across the country. I really am fond of seeing the pride in the teams who love what they do and the kids who love the awesome and healthy food that is being produced now. That’s been real head turner for me!
This is an American story.
There is an emerging trend of Native American fare starting to make its way onto restaurant menus. A great example can be found at a restaurant called Ulele (pronounced You-lay-lee) in Tampa, FL., where they celebrate a vibrant fusion of ingredients from the waters and land that was once home to many Native Americans, including the young princess Ulele. Check out their website at www.ulele.com. If you travel to Tampa and stop in at Ulele, ask for Chef Eric Lackey and tell him JJ the CVap man from Winston sent you!
But what makes this story uniquely American is how we adopt foods that lean toward the countries that have emigrated here. This is happening in schools across the country and kids everywhere love the variety, and of course for some it is a… learning experience!
In 2012, the School Nutrition Association noted a growing prevalence of ethnic food choices in school cafeterias, with schools offering Mexican and Asian dishes, and many experimenting with Middle Eastern, Greek, Kosher/Halal, and Indian foods.
Students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools have been invited to choose from Teriyaki Chicken with Lo Mein Noodles; Curry Chicken Salad; Black Beans & Rice Bowls and Cuban-style Roast Pork. The district offers a wide range of Hispanic dishes throughout the year, including Arroz Con Pollo and Picadillo with Rice and Plantains. (Source: Diane Pratt-Heavner, Director of Media Relations, SNA-The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science)
School nutrition future leaders recently met for the National Leadership Conference in Minneapolis. This part of the story of Somalis coming to Minneapolis-St. Paul is a story of freedom. Somalis first immigrated to the Twin Cities as voluntary migrants in the 1980s and earlier. They journeyed to attend scholastic institutions or to establish businesses, including many professions. Other Somalis arrived in the United States after the start of the civil war in Somalia during the early 1990s, or from other parts of Greater Somalia. Many of the newer arrivals moved to Minnesota through voluntary agencies (VOLAGS), who helped them settle in. Somalis that had arrived earlier also assisted the more recent immigrants (Wikipedia).
So of course Somali food from home had a profound effect on the Twin Cities and made its way on to school lunch menus in both school districts.
Chicken Suqqar is basically meat and veggies, Somali style. It was such a big hit at St. Paul School District’s Somali Parent Advisory Council meeting that they released the recipe for home use! I thought you might like to try it! I suggest a Brown Basmati rice under the mixture, I used boxed broth instead of chicken base and reduced it with chicken breast then removed and diced the chicken, added it back in and then followed the Chicken Suqqar directions. I also chose fresh carrots. You can do it anyway you like because this dish very versatile.
By the way, the school nutrition department where your kids go to school would be more than happy to have you as a guest to try the food being served. Just go to the district website and click on the Food and Nutrition Department. My experience has been that they want you to share their sense of pride in the local delicious diversity that they serve as a part of your community.