Due to shifts in nutritional regulation, flavor trends and consumer demand for more healthful meals, the worlds of dietitians and chefs increasingly intersect. At the Association’s 2016 Nutrition Executive Study Group, Marie Molde and Thomas Talbert, registered dietitians at CSSI Marketing + Culinary agency, discussed how their recent research and restaurants’ needs have led to the rise of “chefticians.” Employed by Google, Compass Group and more, these hybrid roles combine the skill sets and priorities of dietitians and chefs in the evolving nutritional landscape.

When CSSI asked large restaurant brands how they structured their foodservice teams, it found that many registered dieticians and “chefticians” are members of culinary teams, which was not always the case. As dietary guidelines and menu labeling evolve, specific ingredients, such as sodium, must be carefully measured, a responsibility that has typically fallen in dietitians’ arena. Chefs have traditionally dreamt up new dish ideas and flavor-bursting ingredient combinations, but now more than ever, these professionals must often be cognizant of nutritional content, too.

Molde and Talbert offered these three tips for restaurants looking to streamline their menu development:

  • Emphasize teamwork. Determine your cuisine goals as a restaurant brand. Collaborate with a diverse group of team members – marketing, culinary, legal – to ensure everyone’s aware of current regulations and your brand standards. Cross-functional teams can bring cohesion and insight to your R&D processes.
  • Hone in on trends. Tap into the top food trends that make sense for your restaurant. For example, ethnic-inspired cuisine continues to grow in popularity; consider exploring how you can incorporate some global flavors. To learn about hot trends and perennial favorites on restaurant menus, check out the Association’s 2017 What’s Hot chefs’ survey.
  • Storytelling is integral to understanding. If you roll out changes to your menu or introduce new items, establish narratives to share internally and externally. When employees and customers are aware of why and how positive changes were made, buzz can build. On social media, in your marketing materials and in your restaurants, tell these stories in fun ways to generate excitement.