MRM News Bites: Dine Out for Heroes, Food Allergies and Great Steak on This Week’s Plate

Each week, Modern Restaurant Management magazine compiles restaurant industry headlines in MRM News Bites. This week, we have and dining out for heroes, food allergies and the meaning behind chefs’ tattoos. Send items of interest to Content Director Barbara Castiglia at

Dine Out for Heroes

Chef Alex Guarnaschelli is calling upon New York City’s restaurants and diners to join her in honoring our nation’s heroes this Veterans Day through the 3rd Annual Dine Out for Heroes, a benefit for the Bob Woodruff Foundation. The Food Network personality and executive chef of Butter Restaurant was drawn to the fundraiser for injured veterans because of its simplicity.

Alex Guarnaschelli
Alex Guarnaschelli

“Dine Out for Heroes is just such an easy way for restaurants to honor those who’ve served while affording diners the opportunity to take a break from their busy schedules, enjoy a great meal, and reflect on the meaning of the holiday,” said Guarnaschelli.

Restaurants wishing to take part simply pledge to donate $1 per customer served on Veterans Day. In addition to Butter, some of this year’s participating restaurants include Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C., Beauty & Essex, The Lambs Club, BLT Steak & BLT Prime, Jane Restaurant, Nobu, and Tribeca Grill.

Participating restaurants will be highlighted on the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s website, as well as by sponsor OpenTable, making it simple for diners to make reservations. Collateral materials like window clings will be provided to restaurants, a great way to entice customers—including the estimated half-million people who will visit Manhattan to watch the city’s annual Veterans Day Parade.

‘Dine Out for Heroes’ is spearheaded by restaurateurs Peter and Penny Glazier, founders of Glazier Works, with Caroline Hirsch and Andrew Fox, founders of the New York Comedy Festival, and Bob and Lee Woodruff, co-founders of the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of support received from patrons over the past two years,” said Penny Glazier and Caroline Hirsch. “With Alex Guarnaschelli now on board, we look forward to welcoming many new restaurants and community members.”

‘Dine Out for Heroes’ (#Dine4Heroes) will follow on the heels of the 10th annual Stand Up for Heroes, a collaboration between the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival that has raised more than $33 million to date to support injured service members and their families. 

Together, these efforts will continue to honor the sacrifice of returning service members, veterans and their families by offering support in the effort to heal the physical and psychological wounds of war. To date, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has reached more than 2.5 million impacted veterans, service members and their families.

Restaurants can register for this year’s Dine Out for Heroes by visiting

AllerTrain gets Food Safety Nod 

On Nov. 1, city council members in Maryland’s Montgomery County unanimously passed legislation requiring restaurants there to have at least one employee working at all times who has completed an allergy training safety course. AllerTrain by MenuTrinfo, which provides  food allergy and gluten free training, has been approved by the state of Maryland to provide allergen training for Montgomery County food service employees.

Betsy Craig
Betsy Craig

The county’s Department of Health and Human Services is providing restaurants with a list of approved online and in-person food allergy training courses, according to the bill. The health department identified training courses offered by AllerTrain. The training costs $19 for a one-hour training or $69 for a three-hour training.

The bill was supported by the Maryland Restaurant Association and will take effect July 1, 2017.

“We are thrilled and honored to be approved to provide allergen and food safety training to food service employees in Maryland,” said Betsy Craig, founder and CEO of AllerTrain by MenuTrinfo. “Food safety and allergen awareness should be an important part of any food service training program. The lives and health of food service guests – across any type of establishment – depends on proper training and education.”

The news comes as MenuTrinfo hosted its first Food Allergy Symposium for Industry (FASI), November 3-4 in Denver. FASI is bringing together leading experts from foodservice brands such as Sodexo, PF Changs, University of Arizona, Red Robin, GF Jules, and others, and will feature leading food allergy and gluten-free experts. 

AllerTrain by MenuTrinfo offers a Suite of Courses designed to educate a wide variety of food handlers and non-food handlers about food allergies. AllerTrain and AllerTrain Lite are both food allergy specific courses and are the only courses accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). 

DineSafe Expands Functionality
DineSafe, the app designed to help diners and restaurants navigate the world of food allergies and special dietary preferences, has enhanced and expanded its functionality.


DineSafe provides restaurants with an accurate, real-time tool for keeping track of all menu item ingredients in a centralized location and a standardized format that helps guests, servers, chefs, and even hosts or hostesses access the information and use it in a way that caters to their establishments and their customers personally.
Restaurants can now upload and track the minimum of the Top 8 Allergens with the optional ability to track up to 33 allergens and 11 dietary preferences. A functionality to enable uploading any and all nutritional information is expected to be in place by early 2017. DineSafe is presently in talks with Reps from other countries ready to help with expansion overseas.
“What started out as a tool for restaurants to provide kitchen staff and front of the house accurate real time allergen information for the food they were cooking and serving is now expanding to be so much more, fully embracing the description in the DineSafe name,” said Nick Caturano of DineSafe. “This app can help save lives, time and money as well as bring structure to the complex challenges of serving guest with food allergies and soon communicating all the nutritional information in your menu items.
Because a food allergy can turn deadly anytime, the UK and the EU already require disclosure of allergens in food, many states are already following this lead. Vegetarian, vegan and paleo diets are no longer limited to niche markets and guests are increasingly seeking healthier options, looking for lower sodium, low fat, low calorie and sugar free meals and transparency in menus. Beginning in May of 2017, restaurants chains of 20 and more will be required by law to have nutritional information readily available.  
“I have worked in the industry for over 20 years and watched what clearly seems like an explosion in food allergies and sensitivities in the past 10 years,” added Caturano. ” We feel we have brought to market at the right time the perfect tool to bring all the meal information, locations and diners to one centralized place. It’s not the recipes, cooking methods, your proprietary information that diners with food allergies and food preferences need, it’s the allergen ingredients in your meals and nutritional information to help them make safe and healthier choices.”
There are already more than 33,000 locations in the DineSafe system including award-winning chef Rick Bayless’ restaurant Frontera Cocina @DisneySprings, which recently upload their menu into their account on DineSafe App. The company is actively seeking restaurants who would like to add their menu offerings to DineSafe.
Completely free for consumers and restaurants, DineSafe is available on IOS & Android.
Tat’s the Story

Chefs and tattoos are the subject of an amazing new book. From gritty grill cooks in backwoods diners to executive chefs at the world’s most popular restaurants, it’s hard to find a cook who doesn’t sport some ink. “Knives & Ink: 9781632861221Chefs and the Stories Behind Their Tattoos (with Recipes)” by Buzzfeed Books editor, Isaac Fitzgerald and illustrated by award-winning artist Wendy MacNaughton delves into the personal stories chefs from across the country. The book is filled with oving tributes to loved ones lost, to defining moments that pointed to the culinary path, and to the flavors and philosophies that fuel their creations.

“The kitchen saved my life,” shared one chef, who sports a simple circle—a wheel to which she add the spokes of her new life.brian-grosz1

Another surveyed friends and family for the fruits and vegetables that best represented them, then wove them all together into one celebratory cornucopia. Another chose to honor the foundation for just about every culture’s cuisine: onions, “because they look, and are, sweet.”timmy-molloy1Some tattoos are delicate, some flashy, some include words and quotes that give daily encouragement or signify new beginnings. Pairing each story with a sumptuously drawn illustration of the tattoo, “Knives & Ink” invites readers further into the lives of each chef with recipes and photos throughout, as well as a list of the artists.catherine-doyle1

Best Steakhouses in America

OpenTable unveiled the 100 Best Steakhouses in America for 2016. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

Lolinda Photo by Aubrie Pick
Photo by Aubrie Pick

Highlighting both traditional steakhouses and novel takes on the concept, the complete list features restaurants in 28 states and the District of Columbia and includes Bavettes in Chicago, Keens Steakhouse in New York and STK in Las Vegas. California, Illinois, and Texas each have 17 winning restaurants, followed by New York with 14 and Nevada with 12. Massachusetts has eight honorees, and Ohio and Pennsylvania boast six apiece. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C., each have five honorees. South Carolina has three restaurants, while Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington all have two standout steakhouses. Alabama, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Rhode Island are also represented. 

Ruths Chris
Ruths Chris

“With its long history and timeless traditions, the steakhouse occupies a special place in our nation’s dining culture,” says Caroline Potter, OpenTable Chief Dining Officer. “These winning restaurants are honoring those comforting – and delicious — traditions while providing top-notch hospitality that diners want to return for again and again. We can’t imagine a better place to celebrate the holidays than at one of America’s greatest steakhouses.”

 The list of the 100 Best Steakhouses in America are generated from more than five million restaurant reviews collected from verified OpenTable diners between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016. All restaurants in the “steak” cuisine category with a minimum “overall” score and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to their overall food rating.   

Ando Attracts Investors

Ando, the delivery-only, online restaurant from David Chang, Momofuku and Expa has closed a $7 million Series A financing round led by Forerunner with participation from BoxGroup and Wildcat Venture Partners. Strategic Angels in this round include, William Lauder, Chairman of Estee Lauder; Neil Blumenthal, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Warby Parker; Andy Katz-Mayfield, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Harry’s; Abdur Chowdhury, Former Chief Scientist, Twitter; Dick Boyce, TPG Partner and former Chairman of Burger King; Elizabeth Cutler, Founder of SoulCycle; Jimmy Fallon and Aziz Ansari. This new funding will be used to continue to grow the team and build operational capacity to further expand delivery across New York City to accommodate the growing demand.

Launched in New York this past July, Ando is David Chang and Momofuku’s first and only delivery-only restaurant concept. Momofuku brings the creative and culinary expertise as the back of house, while Expa provides the logistical, technical and startup business background to support as the front of house. This collaboration allows the Ando team to serve Momofuku food such as the NY Cheesesteak, Fried Chicken, and Spicy Tofu designed specifically for delivery. 

“Mobile technology has completely transformed our daily lives, and it’s certainly impacting the overall dining experience with the ease of delivery,” said David Chang, co-founder of Ando. “We’ve never taken VC money before, and Ando was a very special case since we’ve always wanted to do delivery for Momofuku. The concept of Ando was planned many years ago, and we waited until we found the perfect partner, Expa, that had the right technology and logistics to deliver quality food that, when delivered, is as good or more delicious than eating something in a restaurant. Now through the Ando platform, we’re starting to understand the consumer experience better and when we understand how the consumer eats the food and wants the food, then we can cook it better as well.”

With its unique approach to food development and delivery, Ando creates consistently high-quality menu items that are guaranteed to taste delicious and fresh upon delivery. The dishes are put through rigorous testing to ensure consistent quality while traveling across the city. Ingredients, temperature, weather, customer feedback and more are all factors that are considered and tested when developing each menu item. Through its platform and the use of data and analytics, Ando is able to explore how consumers interact with every part of the ordering process, understand how efficiently the kitchen is moving, how effective its delivery partners are and how to improve and shape the entire experience for each individual customer.

“The food delivery space is growing, evolving and adapting to accommodate a new generation of consumers that wants authenticity, consistent quality and a personal connection to a brand,” said Hooman Radfar, co-founder and CEO of Ando. “With this new funding, we’ll continue our commitment to culinary innovation, making food delicious while experimenting with ingredients, enhancing packaging and improving our backend technology to ensure the best experience upon delivery. Our goal is to grow our menu offerings and expand beyond New York, creating delicious food and pushing the limits of delivery.”

Since launch, Ando has introduced a web app to accommodate a growing demand and revealed Ando Labs, which enables its customers to order and review food items that are still in the development stages to empower them to become a part of the R&D process. Additionally, Ando recently expanded its delivery zone to now include all of Midtown East and parts of Midtown West, while increasing its services from just lunch to include dinner hours during the weekdays.

Epicurious Launches App with Videos

Epicurious launched “Epicurious Recipes & Food Videos,” a new app for iPhone and iPad that includes original video for the first time ever, putting more than a thousand food videos directly at chefs’ fingertips. (PRNewsFoto/Epicurious)

“We believe that the future of recipes is video,” said Eric Gillin, executive director of Epicurious and head of product for the Food Innovation Group.”When you open Facebook, when you open Instagram, more people are learning to cook and getting inspiration for their next meal from food videos than before.”

The new Epicurious app will launch with 90 brand-new recipe videos and ten new series, including “Three-Ingredient Thanksgiving,” delicious and simple holiday recipes that can be created using just three ingredients, like an orange-sage turkey or a caramel apple tart.

The app also contains cooking tips, recipe collections, and holiday menus for the first time ever, along with more than 35,000 tested recipes updated each morning.

“We challenged ourselves to come up with a whole new way of thinking about food content,” said Epicurious editor David Tamarkin. “Our goal is to give readers what they want, when they need it—from the grocery aisle to the kitchen counter. The new app lets us do that better.”

With support from launch sponsors Calphalon, Silk Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative and Target, iPhone and iPad users can download here on the iTunes App Store.

New Energy-Saving Combi

Alto-Shaam has added an additional combi oven to its line of ENERGY STAR® models. The CT PROformance™ Combitherm® 20-20 gas combi oven (CTP20-20G) was recently certified for energy efficiency and joins the CTP10-20G, CTP7-20E, CTP7-20G and CTC7-20G. ENERGY STAR® models are on average 30 percent more energy efficient than standard models.


“This distinction helps our customers save on energy bills without sacrificing performance,” said Robert Simmelink, corporate executive chef at Alto-Shaam.

The CT PROformance™ 20-20 Combitherm® oven is a key part of Alto-Shaam’s fully integrated banqueting system. Equipped with a roll-in cart, it allows users to cook food and then roll it into the compatible Alto-Shaam CombiMate® Mobile Warmer or QuickChiller™ blast chiller. Then, when it is time for service, users plate up the meals and retherm them for quick, consistent results.

International Tableware Names NY Metro Rep

International Tableware appointed Pecinka-Ferri Associates as its New York Metro Territory Representatives effective November 1. The territory that they will serve will include Metro New York, New Jersey (North of Trenton) and New York (South of Kingston). Jason Kellish serves as Design Collection Category Manager.
The line includes the Quad™ Dinnerware line, the Dresden™ Dinnerware Range and the new Savannah™ Dinnerware collection.