Chefs' perceptions of convenience food products in university food service operations
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The decision regarding when and to what extent to use convenience food products is a perennial issue in the hospitality industry. Despite the pertinence of this issue in the industry, it has never been explicitly examined in the hospitality literature. Potential advantages of adopting convenience food products in food-service operations include: savings in time and costs, better portion and cost control, ease of training and evaluation, superior customer relationships through product consistency, increased safety, ease of storage, and added eye appeal. On the other hand, noticeable disadvantages may include: staff motivation problems, facilitated labor mobility, increased emotional labor for supervisor, health and nutrition down-sides, and more waste. Therefore, to further explore this issue, a paper and pencil survey was administered to culinary managers in a large university dining setting. Respondents included 132 chefs representing ten dining facilities. The results indicate that even though the time and labor cost savings brought about by the use of convenience food products are perceived as advantageous, the implied consistency of the final product and superior portion control are not as important. Furthermore, customer relationships, catering to special groups, and final products' eye appeal appear to be better facilitated by non-convenience foods. Even though it is easier to train chefs/ cooks/ employees to use convenience food products rather than non-convenience ones and these employees appear to be under less psychological pressure in their jobs, they will conversely be less motivated and worse paid. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed herein.
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