Recent AHF Webinar Focused on Food Culture and Menu Diversity

By Hillary Hutchins posted 23 days ago


AHF recently hosted a webinar that addressed diversity on the menu at healthcare and senior dining facilities. During this webinar, Eric Wynkoop, Director of Culinary Instruction at Rouxbe Online Culinary School discussed what diversity on a menu can mean and what food culture and authenticity is.

When we think about culture, we think about things like language, clothes, music and architectural styles. A culture’s food is determined by a number of factors involving what is eaten, when it’s eaten and with whom. Things like climate, access to technology and human migration all play a role in a country or region’s food. As with all aspects of culture, generally, when it comes to food, there’s an insider’s perspective and an outsider’s perspective.

While food culture is something that is ever evolving, authenticity however is often linked to a static image of a food item, which is where differences of opinions can arise. Often, consumers believe a past experience is a defining experience and when food is concerned, sense of taste is usually associated with a sense of place.  As an outsider, our understanding is generally limited, as we are likely not able to consider all variations of a culture’s food.

Foodservice professionals have a responsibility to make a genuine effort when trying to understand a type of food or cuisine and give it the respect it deserves. Diversity of food on a menu can reflect your clientele and allows you to develop deeper bonds with community members, patients, and visitors. Food diversity can also provide a sense of pride and belonging when you offer menu items that might reflect the diverse backgrounds of the staff you are feeding. Additionally, by allowing members of your kitchen staff to develop menu items based on their heritage and background, you give them a chance to share and nurture, which is why so many of us enjoy cooking.

Whether through travel, research or incorporating diverse kitchen staff, there are many ways to honor and introduce diversity into your kitchen.  


AHF members can watch a recording of Diversifying the Menu in Healthcare and Senior Dining, along with all of our monthly webinars, on our Online Learning Center. Be on the lookout for our upcoming webinars, Coffee Talks and events on our website here.