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Emerson Agrees to Acquire Cooper-Atkins

Emerson has agreed to acquire Cooper-Atkins, a leading manufacturer of temperature management and environmental measurement devices and wireless monitoring solutions for foodservice, healthcare and industrial markets. Cooper-Atkins is a longtime technology leader in foodservice markets with a comprehensive offering of temperature management and monitoring products for spot inspection and fixed location uses, including restaurants, supermarkets and other places where food is handled, prepared and stored. Their solutions are modernizing food quality management utilizing mobile and cloud-based quality, safety and compliance systems.

“Temperature management in food retail and restaurants is a dynamic market due to increasing regulatory requirements, rising labor costs and the proliferation of locations where fresh foods are prepared and served,” said Robert T. Sharp, Executive President, Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions. “This acquisition further strengthens our ability to meet the evolving needs of our cold chain customers – from grower to retailer – to help provide consistent and safe control of food and other temperature-sensitive goods.” Cooper-Atkins is a strong complement to Emerson’s global cold chain business, which includes the ProAct™ Services portfolio for supermarkets and the Cargo Solutions business, which provides real-time perishable cargo tracking and monitoring services. “We see food safety as a critical need that will shape demand in our end markets,” said Emerson Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David N. Farr. “Cooper-Atkins’ strong brand reputation and leading portfolio of automated temperature and monitoring solutions broadens our access to the foodservice industry.” Cooper-Atkins’ food quality portfolio strategically expands Emerson’s broad cold chain portfolio of products and services for producer, retail, industrial and transportation customers. Emerson’s market-leading compressor technologies, controls and connected solutions optimize energy consumption and operational performance in the assets powering supermarket, foodservice and refrigerated shipping operations. The added expertise from Cooper-Atkins significantly extends Emerson’s global capabilities in monitoring food, its preparation, and other high-value shipments throughout the entire supply chain to preserve freshness and quality. Headquartered in Middlefield, Conn., Cooper-Atkins is a privately-owned company with approximately 150 employees, and has offices and operations in Ohio, Florida and Singapore. The acquisition is expected to close within the next 60 days, subject to various regulatory approvals. — Source: Emerson.

Increased Focus on Delivery, Vegetarian and Vegan Concepts

An increased focus on delivery, the elevation of vegetarian and vegan concepts, embracing automation and finding ways to operate in smaller areas are just a few predictions from several executives leading fast casual brands. Jenelle Brown, VP of operations and training, Uncle Maddio’s Predictions:

As the demands of the consumer continue to support off-premise you will continue to see operators make adjustments in current models as well as the ideation phase of new design. I would also predict brands will focus on value-engineering their build-out to maximize space and minimize square feet as most fast casual concepts are competing for the same real estate. Technology will continue to play an amplified role in driving sales and traffic. This will be at the forefront of loyalty programs and social media strategies as they remain a primary sales tactic and will allow for consistent communication to guest databases, segmentation and benchmark the ROI of campaigns. Integration into POS systems with arching technology, such as third-party delivery, mobile apps, digital gift cards and reward redemption. While everyone looks to keep their COGS in line or below industry standards while simplifying operations and the guest experience menu trends will shift. Cross utilizing skus , extending the promotion of LTOs and celebrating current menu items will become more prevalent. For example, Uncle Maddio’s Pizza recently launched calzones. This is a great way to celebrate our house-made dough and fresh ingredients in an exciting way.

Sam Ballas, president/CEO, East Coast Wings + Grill Comfort Food Predictions: Our focus group studies and research offered an opportunity into comfort food offerings, leading us to create comfort food iron skillets such as Buffalo Chicken Mac + Cheese, Kick’n Joe (our version of the sloppy Joe) and Iron Shepard (our version of the Shepherd’s Pie). Our brand’s evolution dubbed ECWG 2.0 has transitioned our look to a more industrial and rustic décor, as well as transition our menu. The offerings will continue with high-quality ingredients and feature award-winning wings; however, the new menu extends to craft beers, flat breads, burgers and comfort foods.

Rosalie Guillem, CEO and co-founder, Le Macaron French Pastries. Predictions: We saw food and social media coming together to create one of the hottest trends known as “Instagramable food,” and we knew this was a trend we could be a part of — our products are beautiful and delicious. We are always looking for new ways to make our cafés and products stand out to create a more elevated and memorable customer experience. John Leon, CEO, Leon Predictions: My guess is continued rise of veganism/vegetarianism.

John Pepper, CEO, Boloco Predictions: I believe digital payment and mobile ordering will accelerate. It makes no sense to see people continue to line up at Starbucks to place an order when it takes mere seconds on the phone. That will spill over to the rest of us too, as long as our apps are built well. I believe that how consumers define “value” will continue to evolve… taste and price will always reign supreme, but especially as Gen Z are entering and now graduating from college, things like social justice and impact on environment and communities will show up more prevalently in how people choose where they spend their money. I think a lot of high-growth, heavily-funded concepts will meet stronger headwinds in 2018, even if the fundamentals of those concepts are well accepted and even lionized by the public. The required investor returns matched with nose-bleed high valuations will cause further management turn over and decisions to be made that possibly undermine the long-term viability of those businesses.

Stuart Fitzgerald, CFO, Freshii Great Britain Predictions: There is so much happening in the sector right now but the biggest change may be how data is being used to enhance the guest experience. Everything from personalized marketing campaigns to back-of-house operations is now data driven. In Freshii UK we have automated our accounting and business intelligence systems to improve the speed and quality of our decision making. Our EPOS, time and attendance, procurement and accounting systems connect through one portal. This portal will give our teams the data they need to run our stores efficiently and effectively.

Sammy Aldeeb, CEO andfounder, Urban Bricks Pizza. Predictions: After years targeting millennials through marketing and advertising, brands will now start to take it a step further and completely rearrange design to appeal to this generation. Colors and interior design will be chosen to appeal to millennials, and restaurant designs will be made to easily accommodate mobile ordering and pick-up. Fast casual restaurants will begin to incorporate full bars and craft beer in order to get younger customers into their stores. Bryon Stephens, president, Marco’s Pizza. Predictions: Workforce engagement and development: Data-driven decision-making: As one of its top company goals, increasing employee engagement is a continuous agenda item not only among the workforce but at each leadership table.  Progress is measured and reported every period, and with the culture of accountability firmly entrenched, failure to improve engagement at Marco’s is not an option.  Some of the programs that help include Marco’s apprenticeship program which provides current employees, active duty military, veterans and their families an opportunity for ownership complete with all the support they need to be successful.

Laura Rea Dickey, CEO, Dickey’s Barbecue Predictions: I see delivery as a growing focus with staying power beyond a trend in the industry. We are launching our consumer app with direct delivery and curbside pick-up. We are revamping our loyalty program that will be largely app-based. We are also focusing on “true engagement” with our guests. Meaning to complement our expanded, open kitchens, we’re adding Barbecue School in select locations. In Barbecue School, guests can sign up for barbecue classes lead by a pit master in the restaurant and learn real barbecue techniques and how to make custom sauces and rubs. I think guests will look more for authentic, experience-based reasons, like that, to return to restaurant dining rooms in the evenings and weekends. Barbecue School is how we hope to meet that anticipated expectation. Last, I think we’ll see smaller, more focused menus and footprints across the industry due to rising costs and fierce competition; we are seeing requests for counter-based, no-seating restaurants from potential owners. This is definitely something we may test in 2018.

Scott Drummond, co-founder, Eatsa. Predictions: I think we will see the industry track the evolution and innovation cycle of the internet. For example, in the same way that the internet now presents customized information based on what you are doing, restaurants will soon do the same. Imagine restaurants with the ability to customize menus and present items that anticipate your needs, tastes and desires without you even noticing? Another innovation we may soon see will mirror the connectivity and group-sharing of social media. I believe we will see restaurant environments very soon where we can see, connect, share and maybe even sample food in real time that others are enjoying elsewhere. Eatsa tested the waters with innovation moving in this direction, and I feel confident that what people experienced was just the very early first steps in this direction!

Steve Novick, CEO, Farmstand. Predictions: With rents increasing and businesses rates more than doubling in some areas of London, we see a rise of kitchen-only restaurants and the number of independent brick-and-mortar shops decreasing.

Bill DiPaola, COO, Dat Dog Predictions: As far as things on the horizon for us and what we are gearing up for, we see the future as a more nuanced, personalized guest experience in restaurants that includes direct, in-store customer feedback that alters the environment as they dine. This includes the simple things like music and television programming, but one that also includes lighting, decor, artwork and even color scheme.  All done through social networking and direct input from the guest. Customization is king and is not only limited to your meal. – Source: FastCasual.com.

Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. Acquires Restaurants in Hawaii

Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. announced that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of six restaurants in Hawaii from longtime franchise partner, Desert Island Restaurants, for approximately $35 million in cash. The acquisition includes six restaurants, including a new location opened in early November on the island of Kauai, as well as area development rights for the balance of the state. The acquisition has been funded with debt through the Company’s senior credit facility.

Mike O’Donnell, chairman and chief executive officer of Ruth’s Hospitality Group, stated, “We believe the acquisition of our Hawaiian franchise locations presents a significant opportunity for us. Since 1994, Randy Schoch and the local teams have built an award-wining group of restaurants leveraging our founder Ruth Fertel’s successful recipe: sizzling prime steaks and legendary hospitality, together with the aloha spirit of Hawaii. I’m pleased to officially welcome these impressive restaurants and their outstanding teams into the Ruth’s Hospitality Group family. We are proud of their achievements and we are committed to supporting their success. Randy will maintain a leadership relationship with RHGI and together we will work to ensure a seamless transition for team members and guests.” – Source: Ruth’s Hospitality Group.

Sbarro Continues Growing Internationally

Sbarro, has made two significant international deals this year. One will bring 20 Sbarro restaurants to Argentina, and another calls for the opening of 15 locations of the brand’s fast casual concept  — Pizza Cucinova — in Japan, according to a company press release. Osaka-based development and commercial real estate company — Kadoya — will open the Japanese pizza locations, while Argentine restaurant developer, Desarrolladora Gastronómica S.A. will open the restaurants in the South American nation.  Kadoya also runs the Japanese barbecue concept, Shinra, and is the country’s master franchisee for Greenberry Coffee. “We have tremendous confidence in the Sbarro Management Team and are excited to join them in impacting Japanese food culture,” Kadoya subsidiary K&B Brothers President and CEO Ryohei Iwatani, said in the release. “Pizza is very popular in Japan, but people know it for either delivery pizza with less quality or high-end restaurant pizza as part of an Italian full course dinner. Now, with Pizza Cucinova, we add another option for pizza lovers in a fast-casual environment. Our customers will enjoy authentic, customizable pizza at a reasonable price.” Desarrolladora Gastronómica also has a number of brands in Argentina, from fine and casual dining to pizzerias. The 61-year-old Sbarro brand serves New York-style pizza and other Italian favorites to guests at more than 630 restaurants across 28 countries. Pizza Cucinova began in 2013, with locations primarily in Columbus, Ohio, but is expanding worldwide. The brand serves artisan pizza, pasta and salad inspired by the time-honored traditions and recipes of Naples, Italy and is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. – Source: PizzaMarketplace.

Apollo to Acquire Qdoba

Apollo Global Management, L.L.C. has entered a definitive agreement to acquire Qdoba Restaurant Corp. from Jack in the Box, Inc. for approximately $305 million in cash. The transaction is expected to close by April 2018. Qdoba Mexican Eats is a fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain that operates more than 700 locations in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. The chain had system-wide sales of more than $820 million in fiscal 2017. “For the past several months, we have worked closely with our financial advisers and evaluated various strategic alternatives with respect to Qdoba, including a sale or spin-off, as well as opportunities to refranchise company restaurants,” said Lenny Comma, chairman and chief executive officer of Jack in the Box, Inc. “Following the completion of this robust process, our board of directors has determined that the sale of Qdoba is the best alternative for enhancing shareholder value and is consistent with the company’s desire to transition to a less capital-intensive business model.” Jack in the Box acquired Qdoba in 2003, when the fast-casual Mexican-style restaurant chain operated 85 locations in 16 states and had $65 million in system-wide sales. Over the past 14 years, net units have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 16%, Mr. Comma said. “We are extremely excited to be acquiring Qdoba and look forward to working with the management team, employees and franchisees to continue building the Qdoba brand,” said Lance Milken, senior partner at Apollo. “We are firmly committed to Qdoba’s continued growth as a leading fast-casual restaurant operator.” The purchase of Qdoba adds to Apollo’s portfolio of food and beverage industry ventures. The company also owns specialty grocery retailer The Fresh Market and Chuck E. Cheese’s parent CEC Entertainment, Inc. Apollo also owns stock in Hostess Brands, Inc. – Source: Food Business News.

Despite Some Weak Links, Chain Stores Continue City Expansion

The growth of chain retailers and restaurants in the city continues unabated, which may be a discouraging thought for anyone whose favorite deli has been replaced by a Dunkin’ Donuts.The sweet-treat and coffee giant took the title as New York’s largest retailer for the 10th consecutive year, with 612 stores, according to a report from the Center for an Urban Future. Dunkin’ added 16 stores last year and a total of 271 since 2008, when the center began tracking the proliferation of chain retailers. Still, there are some weak links among the chains, particularly retailers coping with the Amazon deluge. Duane Reade closed 43 stores last year, though it still has 260. Radio Shack, which had 116 locations in the city a decade ago, is down to its last three. American Apparel vanished from the scene, as did discount retailer Second Time Around.

Overall, however, the number of chain locations in the city grew by 1.8% last year, higher than 2016’s 1.2% and 2015’s 1%. All boroughs except Staten Island saw growth in chains, while Brooklyn had the most. Years of steady increases have resulted in a 35% jump in the number of chain locations of all kinds in the city since 2008, to a total of 7,317. Most of the growth is in food. Fast-food franchises such as Chick-fil-A are expanding here after long avoiding the city, where tight spaces didn’t fit well with their restaurants’ cookie-cutter layouts. But now joints like Popeye’s, Arby’s and even Taco Bell are expanding in the city in a big way, partly because they can afford the rising rents that continue to squeeze out independent operators. Most fast-food restaurants here are owned by large franchisees who control dozens of locations. Chain coffee shops such as Starbucks and Joe Coffee are growing fast, as are chain bakers like Le Pain Quotidien and Panera Bread. Perhaps the most surprising story is Crumbs Bake Shop, a muffin-maker all but left for dead when it sank into bankruptcy in 2014. But Marcus Lemonis, host of CNBC reality series The Profit, has since acquired the company for $7.1 million, plus the assumption of certain debts. Crumbs has gotten off the floor and added a dozen local locations last year, bringing its total to 22. – Source: Crain’s New York Business.

NYC Falafel Icon Mamoun’s Plans Five Chicago Restaurants

Mamoun’s, a Greenwich village icon that is embarking on ambitious national expansion plans, has announced that five new ranchised restaurants in Chicagoland are now part of that expansion, according to a news release on restaurantnews.com. There’s no word yet on locations or specific opening timeframes — representatives for the burgeoning chain have yet to respond to inquiries — but they’re all slated to open sometime within the next five years, the release states. Mamoun’s debuted in 1971 on MacDougal Street in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village near NYU, and has since become an NYC institution for falafel sandwiches and other affordable quick-served Middle Eastern food from daytime until the wee hours of the night. Eater New York has blessed the original location as one of Gotham’s best cheap eats, as well as one of critic Robert Sietsema’s best cheap eats and best late-night eats. In addition to its addictive fried chickpea balls served in pita sandwiches or as plates over salad with tahini sauce, Mamoun’s also serves familiar hummus, baba ghanouj, shawarma, meat kebobs, lentil soup, spinach pie, baklava, and stuffed grape leaves. Mamoun’s first began expanding locally in recent years with a location on St. Marks Place in the East Village, three locations in New Jersey, and one in Connecticut. Dallas was picked this year for its first restaurant outside the Northeast, which a rep told Eater Dallas would be “the first of many future Mamoun’s Falafel openings out west.” Now Chicago is next in line for some iconic falafel. Similar to The Halal Guys, another NYC quick-serve Middle Eastern food icon that espanded to Chicago and other cities, Mamoun’s is using franchising to expand to multiple locations around the country. The news release names Sagar Patel as Mamoun’s local franchisee, and that the chain uses a commissary to produce its food and has partnered with U.S. Foods to distribute it. Stay tuned for more on the Chicago expansions. – Source: Eater Chicago.

Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar to Close

Five rocky years since its arrival in tourist mecca Times Square, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, created by television rock star Guy Fieri will close. December 31 is the last day for the ill-received, yet still wildly popular restaurant that served as a touchstone for Fieri fans, employees at the restaurant have confirmed to Eater NY.

Update: In a statement to Eater via a spokesperson, Fieri did not shed light on the reason for the closure, but noted he is “proud” of serving millions of people throughout the years and thanked his team. There were both very high highs and very low lows for Guy’s throughout the years — most famously when Fieri took home the top prize at the 2013 Food & Wine festival burger bash and most infamously when Times critic Pete Wells positively skewered the restaurant in an unprecedently scathing zero-star review. That review, with zingers such as, “How, for example, did Rhode Island’s supremely unhealthy and awesomely good fried calamari — dressed with garlic butter and pickled hot peppers — end up in your restaurant as a plate of pale, unsalted squid rings next to a dish of sweet mayonnaise with a distant rumor of spice?” vaulted the restaurant to be a national topic of conversation. Fieri himself appeared on the Today show the next day to defend himself. All that aside, the restaurant endured through Fieri fan and tourist visits, with a FieriCon bar crawl with thousands of attendees ending at the restaurant just as recently as last month. The large, three-floor space served an eclectic menu of dishes like the award-winning mac-and-cheese-topped burger, pretzel-crusted chicken tenders, and cajun chicken pasta alfredo. Fieri still has plenty to keep him busy, with many other locations around the world, new television shows, and fires to fight. – Source: Eater New York.

Red Robin Promotes Dana Benfield to SVP, CMO

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. announced the promotion of Dana Benfield to the role of senior vice president and chief marketing officer. Ms. Benfield will be responsible for overseeing Red Robin’s Brand Marketing and Guest Engagement teams, as well as leading the company’s Food & Beverage and Commercialization initiatives. Previously serving as Red Robin’s vice president of Marketing & Menu Innovation, Ms. Benfield is a 15-year veteran of the company’s Marketing team. Among Ms. Benfield’s many accomplishments during her tenure with Red Robin, she led the development of Red Robin Royalty, which has become a preeminent loyalty program in the casual dining industry. Ms. Benfield will report to Jonathan Muhtar, who was recently promoted to the position of executive vice president and chief concept officer for Red Robin. “Since joining Red Robin, Dana has eagerly taken on new responsibilities and grown into a trusted leader, developing a talented marketing team and making many valuable contributions to the Company’s success,” says Mr. Muhtar. “We’re looking forward to seeing Dana apply her leadership and marketing expertise as we guide the Red Robin brand to new heights.” Ms. Benfield has more than 30 years of experience in the food service industry. Prior to joining the Red Robin team in 2002, she served as an account manager for Karsh & Hagan Advertising, where she managed Denver region marketing programs for McDonald’s. She had previously gained food service experience working for a McDonald’s franchisee in Tampa, Fla., serving in various roles from restaurant management to marketing. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from the University of South Florida in Tampa. – Source: fsrmagazine.com.

Chipotle Seeks a New CEO Who Can Restore Buzz for a Damaged Brand

That’s the question facing Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. as the company searches for a new chief executive officer to replace Steve Ells, who said last month he will be stepping down. His successor will inherit a brand that’s been badly tarnished by a food-safety crisis, and will face intense pressure to mount a turnaround, which has proved elusive in the more than two years since the foodborne-illness issues burst into public view. Chipotle’s shares are set to finish 2017 down for a third straight year. Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital is the chain’s largest holder, hasn’t commented on who should lead the company. The billionaire investor backed a shake-up of the board last year that saw four directors step down. Two of the new additions — Robin Hickenlooper and Ali Namvar — are leading the CEO search. Ells, who founded the Denver-based company in 1993, is staying on as chairman, which raises questions about how much autonomy the CEO will have to set a new course.

Another key challenge will be bringing some buzz back to the brand, which was built on making fast food with better ingredients. Executive recruiters and restaurant analysts have said that Chipotle needs a leader who understands its food culture and has the operational experience to effectively manage more than 2,300 eateries. “With a lot of businesses, you can get an industry agnostic, but restaurants are different,” said Umesh Ramakrishnan, founding partner of executive recruiter Kingsley Gate Partners. “If you don’t know the industry, margins can dry up real fast.” Here’s a look at five possible candidates.

Ron Shaich: Shaich, 63, the outspoken founder of Panera Bread Co., sold the business to JAB Holdings earlier this year and announced he would step down as CEO on Jan. 1. Shaich, who also co-founded Au Bon Pain, is credited with boosting same-store sales at Panera by investing in technology and cleaning up the chain’s menu. Chipotle has lagged on digital initiatives, and Shaich shares a vision for healthier fast food with Ells.

Patrick Doyle: Doyle, 54, has spent 20 years at Domino’s Pizza Inc. and has been CEO of the chain since 2010. Domino’s has been a restaurant-industry standout, embracing technology to make ordering easier and boost sales. The shares closed 2010 at $15.95 and now trade at about $190. The company has posted double-digit increases in same-store sales in the U.S. in each of the past two years.

Cheryl Bachelder: Bachelder, 61, a veteran of Domino’s and KFC, led the fried chicken chain Popeyes for about 10 years before leaving in March when it was purchased by Burger King parent Restaurant Brands International Inc. She oversaw the expansion of the chain to almost 2,700 locations. Between 2011 and 2016, same-store sales in the U.S. climbed an average of 4.5 percent over the past six years.

Brian Niccol: Niccol, 42, has been CEO of the Mexican-themed chain Taco Bell since 2015, overseeing more than 6,500 restaurants. Chipotle has knocked its rival’s food for being overly processed, but Niccol has kept sales humming with buzzy limited-time only items and an embrace of digital ordering that has connected with younger diners. Under his leadership, Taco Bell has also had a knack for social-media marketing, which could be key as Chipotle tries to lure diners back to its restaurants.

Lucy Brady: Brady joined McDonald’s Corp. in September 2016 after 19 years at Boston Consulting Group. She’s been serving as senior vice president for corporate strategy, business development and innovation at the burger chain, with operates more than 14,000 restaurants in the U.S. Brady replaced Chris Kempczinski, who had the job for about a year before taking over U.S. operations. McDonald’s was an early investor in Chipotle, and industry observers have said it could benefit from some the operational efficiency and supply-chain experience McDonald’s is known for. – Source: Bloomberg News.

The Basic White Restaurant Plate Has Met Its Match

For decades, the standard plate for meals at nearly any restaurant has been white. Namely, a round white plate with a shiny glazed finish. IKEA outpost in New Jersey? Round white plates. Le Bernardin? Round white plates. Timetraveling to dinner at Lutèce? You’d also be dining on the same. Though there have been some tweaks to this standard—like the square or rectangular white plate, which is dishware shorthand for “fusion restaurant”— white plates are chosen for good reason. The unobtrusive color won’t clash with food or sauce, and shifts the focus to the plating itself. However, a new trend on the table is proving understated doesn’t always have to be basic. More restaurants are opting for plates, platters and cups with a handmade look. The difference isn’t just in color, but also in texture and form. Instead of glossy perfection, these plates have a little more character. At Lilia in Williamsburg, you’ll find matte plates in shades of ivory and white. The plates have a defined lip (similar to a tray), a flourish that creates a dimensional frame that turns a meal into a composition. That lip also often reveals a muted brown hue that echoes the natural hues of the restaurant’s seafood, meat or hearth-baked bread. (The color scheme also nods to the interior of Lilia.) These details bring out the beauty of the food, rather than relying on the blank canvas of a standard white plate. Over in the Napa Valley, an area that has always kept ceramicists in business, the three-Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood opts for handmade pieces from nearby artist Lynn Mahon. (One estimate claims the restaurant has ordered up to 700 pieces since 2008.) Choosing a local source for the dishes aligns with the restaurant’s locally-focused menu. Diners can sense the hand of the artist through nuanced details. For instance, a white plate may appear to be a circle, but a closer look reveals subtle imperfections on the edges that contrast (and draw the eye to) the natural symmetry of the restaurant’s “foievocado. Commissioned ceramics aren’t seen only as accessories that enhance food, but can also help create a more rich dining experience. “The move toward more unique spaces that have a personal touch is a reaction to the overly designed spaces of the 90s and 2000s, and that trend has evolved over time,” says Amy Morris of The MP Shift, a New York City-based design and branding studio that focuses on the hospitality industry. “The MP Shift brings this personal touch into spaces by highlighting the imperfection in the flow and details. When customers notice these subtle details, be it a cracked wall at De Maria filled in with brass pieces and smaller tiles, or custom ceramics on the table, they feel like they are in space that is the product of time and the owner’s personal touch.” Of course, there’s another benefit: Artful plates also enhance Instagram photos taken by diners as well. – Source: Tasting Table.
6 Beautiful White Plates for Any Occasion

White plates are the ultimate workhorses of the dish world. They never look cheap, their lack of color appropriately highlights any kind of food, and you can mix and match from different brands yet still present a pulled-together table. Plus, unlike patterned dishes, you can find replacements virtually anywhere. Yet all this versatility can be a bit misleading—not all white plates work for every type of food. Whether you’re an experimental type who takes plating seriously or live off a steady diet of sandwiches, here’s the info you need to adjust your collection.

① For devoted home brunchers, one problem with standard rimmed dinner plates is that the actual surface area for food isn’t as big as one needs for housing fare like pancakes, omelets and home fries. Instead, you want a rimless plate that also has a lip around the edge to keep everything from sliding onto the floor. These handcrafted minimalist white plates ($180 for four) from This Quiet Dust Ceramics Studio via Etsy are just big enough for your brunch needs, and each has a thin lip that protects tabletops from errant syrup.

② For gourmet grillers The Apilco Porcelain Chop Plates ($56 for two) from Williams-Sonoma will change the way you serve BBQ. High-fired porcelain makes these extra sturdy, the angled rim keeps juices contained and the generous size is ideal for the appropriate serving of ribs (which is all of the ribs). Sure, they’re a fancier option for cookouts but not so fancy as to inspire snarky commentary. The rest of the year, these large plates can be used as serving platters. The best feature is that they’re oven safe, giving you the option to throw them right into the oven on those nights when cheese fries are the only option. Williams sonoma Follow

③ For light bites & apps The Best White Plates for AnyOccasion | Tasting Table the best-white-dinnerware-plates 4/8 The day that I embraced the fact that I eat like a 60s businessman (lots of sandwiches) was a liberating one, but it also ushered in a much-needed adjustment in my plate supply. For sandwich eaters, it’s weird to lug around a whole dinner plate when you want to enjoy just your BLT, but appetizer plates can be too small for sides. Your best bet is a rectangular plate like World Market’s Small White Rimmed Rectangular Platter ($6). The shape creates lots of white space that makes everything look more stylish, but it’s also a design that’s easier to balance on one’s lap (no judgments). It can comfortably support a sandwich or even a burrito, and it has a little room for a side of chips. Since it’s technically a platter, you can also pass it off as an hors d’oeuvres tray.

④ For “simple green salad” types Salad plates are usually scaled-down dinner plates, though the problem you need to address isn’t portion size but the unwieldiness of eating salad. Like our rice/grain-based salad eaters, you need a deep plate that has a higher rim to keep leaves contained and appropriately dressed. Your best bet will be anything with a higher angled rim, whether it’s a “deep” bowl/plate or one with higher sides, like the Marin White Dinner Plate ($10) by Crate & Barrel.

⑤ For grain salad or pasta fanatics Be honest with yourself. If you eat a lot of rice-, grain- or pasta-based dishes, it’s far easier to go with a bowl than a plate. But standard cereal bowls tend to be too rounded at the bottom, causing dressing (or thinner sauces) to pool. Not to mention, hunching over a cereal bowl for every meal can make one feel like a kidult. A better option is a coupe or the seeming oxymoron of a soup plate, like the Monaco Soup Plate ($14 for a 12-ounce dish) from Fishs Eddy. ⑥ For conceptual chefs Experimental techniques can be shown off to great advantage on more sculptural plates. This handmade design ($33) from PuntoSoave on Etsy is shaped like a hill, which is completely amazing to look at but also impractical for anyone but those who dare arrange their sauces in dots. It’s your time to shine. – The Tasting Table.

EFSA: EU Salmonella Cases Climbed in 2016

Human cases of Salmonella Enteritidis infections increased 3 percent since 2014, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) said in a recent report on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and foodborne outbreaks 2016. Salmonella Enteritidis was the most widespread type of Salmonella, accounting for 59 percent of the 94,530 human cases of salmonellosis reported in the European Union in 2016, EFSA reported.

Additionally, Salmonella bacteria were the most common cause of foodborne illness outbreaks at 22.3 percent, an increase of 11.5 percent compared to 2015. EFSA reported that salmonellosis caused the highest number of hospitalizations — 1,766, or 45.6 percent of all hospitalized cases — and deaths, accounting for 10 (50 percent) of all deaths among outbreak cases. The trend is causing concern among public health officials in the EU because infections caused by Salmonella Enteritidishave been declining since 2007 when the EU developed a surveillance program and implemented control measures in poultry. “The decrease of Salmonella has been a success story in the EU food safety system in the last 10 years,” Marta Hugas, EFSA’s chief scientist, said in a statement. “Recent S.Enteritidis outbreaks contributed to a change in this trend in humans and poultry. Further investigations by competent authorities in the field of public health and food safety will be crucial to understand the reasons behind the increase.” Campylobacter infections also increased in 2016, according to EFSA. The foodborne pathogen was detected in 246,307 individuals representing a 6.1 percent increase compared to 2015. And Listeria infections continued to rise in 2016, according to the report, with listeriosis cases advancing 9.3 percent (2,536 cases) and 247 deaths compared to 2015. EFSA based its report on 2016 data collected from all 28 EU Member States. Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia reported on some of the zoonotic agents. Data related to Salmonella Enteritidis excluded cases associated with travel outside the EU. – Source: Sosland.

International Food Safety on the Raise

Walmart is among four companies collaborating on a standards-based method of collecting data about the origin, authenticity and safety of food in China. The retailer, along with IBM, JD.com and Tsinghua Univ. National Engineering Laboratory for E-Commerce Technology recently formed the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance. The companies say they will work with food supply chain providers and regulators to develop standards and partnerships necessary to enable a “…broad-based food safety ecosystem.” “As a global advocate for enhanced food safety, Walmart looks forward to deepening our work with IBM, Tsinghua University, JD and others throughout the food supply chain,” Frank Yiannas, vice president, food safety and health at Walmart, said in a statement. “Through collaboration, standardization, and adoption of new and innovative technologies, we can effectively improve traceability and transparency and help ensure the global food system remains safe for all.”

Walmart implemented two blockchain projects — one in China to track pork, and another in the United States to track mangoes. Recent testing by Walmart showed that blockchain technology reduced the time it took to trace a package of mangoes from the farm to the store from days or weeks to two seconds. Blockchain technology successfully traced food products from suppliers to retail and ultimately to consumers. Farm origination details, batch numbers, factory and processing data, expiration dates and shipping details were digitally connected to food items and entered in the blockchain network at each step of the farm-to-fork process. Computers in the blockchain, called nodes, contain a copy of a ledger of transactions. At least two nodes must approve a transaction before it is added to the ledger. Blockchain provides users a secure database that is auditable and immutable — transactions can’t be altered. The initiative will ensure brand owners’ data privacy while helping them integrate online and offline traceability channels for food safety and quality management. Companies that join the alliance will be able to share information using blockchain technology, and plans include them being able to choose the standards-based traceability solution that best suits their needs and legacy systems. The Blockchain Food Safety Alliance plans to use insights from the collaboration to shed light on how blockchain technology can help improve recalls, verifications and other processes while enhancing consumer confidence in China and around the world. “Blockchain holds incredible promise in delivering the transparency that is needed to help promote food safety across the whole supply chain. This is a fundamental reason why IBM believes so strongly in the impact this technology will have on business models,” Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Industry Platforms, said in a statement. “By expanding our food safety work with Walmart and Tsinghua Univ. in China and adding new collaborators like JD.com, the technology brings traceability and transparency to a broader network of food supply chain participants.” – Source: Sosland.

Working to control Salmonella and Campylobacter

Researchers at Mississippi State Univ. are working to control Salmonella and Campylobacter before the poultry products leave processing plants. Chander Sharma, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Poultry Science along with a team of MSU scientists, is researching the use of lauric arginate, an antimicrobial compound approved by the USDA, as a processing aid to help combat the pathogens.  Fairfield, New Jersey-based A&B Ingredients recently reported that its CytoGuard LA, lauric arginate product, yielded a 4-log reduction, or 99.99 percent, in reducing Salmonella in raw chicken parts. Lauric arignate is a naturally derived, antimicrobial compound made of lauric acid, L-arginine and ethanol. It is also known as ethyl lauroyl arginate and lauramide ethyl ester. University scientists determined that “after test tube sampling of lauric arginate, as well as coating the outside of raw chicken, it was ‘very effective at destroying the bacteria.’” According to MSU, “After seven days, researchers had achieved a 94-95 percent reduction of C. jejuni and Salmonella was reduced by 80-90 percent.” Gil Bakal, A&B Ingredients’ managing director, notes that lauric arginate (LAE) is an effective food-grade antimicrobial based on the chemical Na-lauroyl-Larginine ethyl ester. “It is a unique antimicrobial compound that has been found to be effective at reducing pathogenic organisms in a wide range of food products.” – Source: Sosland.

Food Safety Net Services Opens Analytical Lab

Food Safety Net Services has opened an analytical laboratory in Atlanta for the food and consumables industry in the Southeast United States. The laboratory will conduct microbiological tests as well as allergen detection, wet chemistry and product evaluation for the food industry. The laboratory has a 50-seat theater for education classes and customer use. “We are anxious to have our customers tour this incredible laboratory,” said John Bellinger, CEO for San Antonio-based Food Safety Net Services, which is a national network of ISO 17025 accredited testing laboratories. “In addition to this great facility, we have an excellent staff led by Chantale Johnson, our laboratory manager. Chantale has been with FSNS for eight years and is an excellent microbiologist and manager. – Source: Food Safety Monitor.

Passage of San Francisco Meat Ordinance Worries Industry

Food industry stakeholders expressed disappointment and concern at the passage of an ordinance that requires large grocery stores to submit detailed reports regarding the use of antibiotics in livestock raised for meat and poultry products. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently passed Ordinance No. 170763 requiring grocers to report: the different purposes for which antibiotics are used; whether the use has a Third-Party Certification; the average number of days of antibiotic use per animal; the percentage of animals treated with antibiotics; the number of animals raised; and the total volume of antibiotics administered. Grocers also will be required to distinguish between medically important antibiotics, and antibiotics not currently medically important. In a statement, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) called the ordinance “a recipe for disaster.” “The significant costs associated with the segregation and recordkeeping for meat and poultry products to be sold in San Francisco will increase the cost of meat and poultry for consumers there and reduce options available,” NAMI said. “Meanwhile, there is no evidence that the program will have a meaningful public health benefit. “Antibiotic resistance is a major concern that should be addressed, and the FDA has implemented significant changes regarding how antibiotics are used and regulated for animals in the United States. FDA’s new policy eliminates the use of medically important antibiotics for promoting growth in animals and requires all remaining uses to be accomplished under the supervision of a veterinarian.

This new policy helps ensure medically-important antibiotics are used in food animals only to fight disease under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.” Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer and senior vice president of public affairs for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), said the ordinance would require “…expensive, duplicative reporting and recordkeeping requirements…” “We are disappointed that in the passage of this ordinance, the Board did not take into consideration the concerns of the city’s grocers, their customers, or the commonsense modifications proposed by FMI to exempt products marked as USDA certified organic, ‘Raised without Antibiotics’ or an approved variation of this nomenclature,” Hatcher said in a statement. “Under the ordinance, certain food retail establishments, including both traditional grocers and specialty food retail establishments with 25 or more stores nationwide, will be forced to produce and maintain redundant paperwork about antimicrobial usage or non-usage in meat. As FMI stated in its letter submitted to the Board and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, this information is already prominently provided on the package as it is federally regulated and must appear on the fresh meat label for those consumers who seek products from animals raised without antibiotics. This includes meat labeled ‘organic.’” Grocers and producers are jointly and severally liable for delays in submitting reports and for false statements made in the reports, according to the ordinance. Penalties for violating the ordinance can include fines of up to $500 or civil penalties of $1,000 each day per violation. – Source: MeatPoultry.com.

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