Bringing Out the Best in Local Foods
The primary objective of this assignment was to train chefs, and staff on creatively utilizing local foods to meet the needs of a diverse international customer base and to provide training on menu creation that considers cost, nutrition, and presentation factors. The introduction of nutrient dense foods is desired when available to counter the generally low nutrient, high carbohydrate diet. This might include affordable menu options developed for a diverse local and international customer base.
Ben described his activities as:
“We would first visit the market and begin to choose products that were in season and the best quality and then base our cooking practices around those ingredients. Advocating seasonal quality produce over concept: let the food guide your cooking.
First menu options were vegetable based. The owners of Sleeping Camel wanted more vegetarian and European options. We worked on creating a menu utilizing and showcasing vegetables as a full meal. Along with the basics of vegetable handling and cookery, we implemented numerous cooking practices for each ingredient, including roasting, grilling, mashing, whole chunks or raw. This was done to expand the cooks’ views as to what is possible with each vegetable and protein, in different ways. The team created a new menu to showcase at the Sleeping Camel restaurant and the American Club.
I trained employees on expanding their breakfast menu, including new options for brunch and advising restructure to the breakfast program. Menu items were soft scrambled eggs with cured salmon, additional crepe add ons (e.g., crepe suzette, banana foster), poaching eggs, vegetable frittata, and shrimp and grits. I provided them with the knowledge and recipes to utilize the entire product, take risks and to be more creative with their cooking.”
Ben also conducted a seminar at the University of Ségou for hospitality students.
“I discussed the misconceptions about malnutrition and ways to achieve optimal nutrition, while demystifying health myths and shedding light on nutrition labels. We designed menus around food variety, color, nutrition, and presentation.”