How important do ya'll think nutrition is to your restaurant?

Joined Feb 6, 2002

Im taking a course at the CIA and need to do research about nutrition in our industry (foodservice). Just want to know what ya'll think about nutrition and if your customers are more aware of this subject.

As for me, I work in a Jersey diner and when I say nutrition or healthy cooking..unless my customer's doc told them to eat right..I usually get "You aint gonna start serving rabbit food here? Right? I prefer the burgers."

Do you get the same response?

Joined Apr 19, 2001
LOL, Shawty! I think diners are the last bastion of the huge 'comfort food' meal!

I assist at cooking classes, and I think people are attempting to be more nutrition conscious, but they get 'stuck' on one thing, and can't let it go. IE, use of olive oil, salt, butter - they watch the instructor use 8T of butter for a cake that's going to serve 18 people, and moan and groan about the 'fat' in the butter! Or the prudent use of salt, and the reason for using it - not for a 'salty' taste, but to point up the flavors of the dish. A student actually demanded of a 'celeb chef' who was teaching that he not put salt in a sauce he was making! Or the 'fat' in avocados - because a long, long time ago, in a land far away, it was published that avocados are 'fat-laden'.

I think there's a lot of misinformation out there, or old info that just gets 'stuck' in peoples' minds. I don't necessarily think doctors have all the answers, either!!!! Look at the egg controversy; look at the shrimp controversy. You can try to educate them, but sometimes it just doesn't stick.

"Moderation in all things, even moderation"!!!
Joined Dec 6, 2001
I just know that when I go out for dinner, I am rarely, if ever, thinking nutritionally! I go out for a treat and want to escape my worries via something decadent and delicious. I usually go for oldfashioned comfort food stuff or the old standby, loaded potato and filet. I balance it all out with the "sourcream and dressing on the side, please" even tho I usually end up using every dab!

Seriously tho, if its a lunchtime meal out, I tend to stick with salads and lighter fare, and will keep my head about me and order nutritionally. When its dinner tho, I go for the entrees like pastas with meaty sauces and cheese, or enchiladas dripping in cheese, burgers or steaks with potatoes of some type. And always leave room for a shared dessert! Nutrional? No way.
Joined Jun 1, 2001
I want nutrition and great taste. If I can't have both, I might as well cook for myself at home. I am constantly disappointed at what I pay money for in restaurants; if an entree is listed as "healthy" ten to one, it IS flavourless and boring. (Is it that customers don't feel they've really eaten something good for them unless they've suffered? :confused: )If I look at something promising, and ask for even relatively minor alterations to make it acceptable to me, I get some weird, thrown-together thing... as though the cook, taken away from the familiar and the known, has not a clue about even the slightest bit of improvisation.

I think it's important to recognise that eating out is NOT an occasion for the vast majority of customers any more; it is a necessary fact of over-busy lives. Decadent entrees are all very well -- for the three tables in the restaurant holding birthday parties and anniversarian couples -- but most of us are there because we're either miles from our kitchens, or have an hour and a half between Daytimer Slot A and Daytimer Slot B, and don't feel like washing dishes.

There are a lot of restaurants I just don't go to, because honestly, everything on the menu is loaded with cheese and cream and butter, and there is no way to "lighten it up." After years of eating low-fat and low-processed in my own house, I don't even find this greasy stuff appealing as a treat any longer. It leaves an unpleasant oil slick in my throat on the eating, and lingering physical after-effects the next day.

I don't know what the answer is. When I have people over for dinner, I don't tell most of them what's in whatever I'm serving (though most of my friends and family know by now that anything they get in my house will be "good for them.") Back when I used to proudly announce the fat grams or the tofu or the general whole-grainity of it all, my guests would give the tentative pokes and nibbles, and sometimes even refuse things on spec! Without forewarning, though, they eat what's on the plate and praise it to the skies.

For my own part, though, I think it should be mandatory, as with all other sold food, to have nutrition information on menus. With the prevalence of nutrition and recipe software, it should be easy as pie to input recipes and yields and get an approximation. Chances are, too, that this would change consumer demand for "bigger, fatter, creamier." I'm betting that the number of orders for yer standard Fettucine Alfredo, for instance, would drop dramatically if the punters knew that they were about to devour, in some cases, over a thousand calories, more than half of them from fat.
Joined Feb 6, 2002
Its a virtual epidemic! Aaaaahhhhh! A customer comes into the diner and wants something healthy but guess what? The cook has no idea what you are talking about. Most customers who are nutritionally educated expect all restaurants to be the same. Not likely. In diners the running joke is ..."these places are run by greeks and all the cooks are mexican" so not only is there an education barrier but a language one as well.

Some cooks believe the same thing about nutrition and healthy cooking as the customers who believe it is rabbit food. We are getting more and more educated customers and I am afraid we cannot keep up. I understand what it is but there is only so much spanish I know in order to convey how the meals are to be prepared. Plus I am not the owner and my mother in law is a little set in her ways.

Joined Oct 6, 2001
At BICC, a Nutrition Class is mandatory -- but until we asked for it and got an interested instructor -- there was no hands on, practical application of theories behind flavour and techniques beyond fat. I have to say, I don't know if it is still offered.

I now that some places have nutritionally based Continuing Ed classes but I don't know of many that have it as a mandatory part of the curriculum.
Joined Nov 29, 2001
Frankly, I wish it was mandatory for every restaurant (even fat havens like McSodium and Burger Rot) to post nutritional info on every entree - including side dishes. This should also be done during advertising on TV. Showing pictures of freshly prepared burgers and fries doesn't tell someone how many calories they'd be taking in if they consumed the meal as designed.

People are consuming way too much food in restaurants when oftentimes what is offered is the equivalent of three sittings' intake.

We'll stop being so incredibly fat if we knew what was riding the fork into our mouths.

To answer your question - I think it's becoming more important and restaurant employees are going to have to be able to answer some nutritional questions for diners who care about fat/salt/sugar intake.

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