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December 2016

Must see: Gingerbread Wonderland at Norway House

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Today sixteen of my family members toured Gingerbread Wonderland at Norway House in Minneapolis. Our group ranged from 3 years old to 69 and everyone enjoyed it!  There were amazing gingerbread structures ranging from simple to grandiose!


Here are a few highlights

“Frozen” Inspired Castle


Minnesota Capitol

Paisley Park

St Paul Cathedral

Mill City Museum

The display runs through January 6. Cost is 5 dollars for adults, free for children under 12.  Click here for more information.

Monthly Feature: Holiday Traditions

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Thank you to FCS Professionals member Mary Levinski for sharing her holiday traditions with us!

Ah – the holidays.  I just love the Christmas season for so many reasons.  I love to decorate my house, the Christmas lights just seem to bring about a feeling of tranquility and peace! It is really sad when they have to be taken down.  I think the best part of Christmas is the baking.  I just love to bake and have been baking since I was a kid.

Soon after I started teaching I had my students make different kinds of cookies (seven kitchens each making a different kind/day for one week) and then the day before break, we would have a party and the students could take the leftover cookies home to their families.  There always seemed to be even enough for me to take some home too.  After I left that job and moved closer to home – my mom was missing all the cookies that came from my students so she suggested I make and freeze a variety of cookies for the holidays. As it turned out, the list of cookies I made grew to include 28-30 different kinds.  It was way too many for us to eat for sure – so we began making trays for friends, neighbors and those who didn’t have the means to make cookies.  We donate about 25 trays of cookies each year.  My mother is now gone and I wouldn’t have to do the cookies anymore but I do them in memory of her and her giving heart to help those around her.  The joy of baking and sharing just makes the holidays so enjoyable.

Merry Christmas!


Meeting Recap: Behind-the-Scenes Food Service Tour of US Bank Stadium and Erik the Red Happy Hour

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On Monday, December 5, FCS Professionals gathered at the new home of the Minnesota Vikings, US Bank Stadium, for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the facility and food service operations.  We were hosted by Gregg Malsbury, Executive Chef, Katie Paige, Administrative Assistant to Chef Gregg, and Stephen Arominski, Assistant General Manager.

We started our tour on the actual playing field and got acquainted with the various suites and layout.  It was the perfect opportunity for a photo!


Next we visited the loading docks, refrigerators & freezers, main kitchen, and ware-washing.  The kitchen was equipped with many combi-ovens, ranges, and of course, giant kettles for cooking all of that game day chili! Most of the food is prepared in the main kitchen and “finished” in smaller kitchens in the suites. There are so many dishes dirtied during an NFL game that it can take two to three days to wash them all!  There was a small room dedicated to all things pans (sheet, hotel, etc).  Chef Gregg stated that on game day, that room will end up empty by the time all of the food is prepared.  Due to security concerns, we were not able to take pictures of the back-of-the-house operations.



Chef Gregg discussed the challenges that they have faced in the first few months of operations.  Employee training and finding a skilled workforce is a challenge across the board for food service in the Twin Cities.  He is hoping to develop a non-profit dedicated to addressing these issues much like he was able to do in Washington D.C.   Other challenges have been keeping up with the catering volume.  The new stadium is the new “it” place to hold functions from weddings to corporate meetings and events.  In fact, on the day we were touring, they were preparing to host the Vikings team Christmas party along with many smaller corporate events in the suites.

The second half of the tour was led by Stephen Arominski, Assistant General Manager.  He took us to the press box.  The space was impressive!  Not only were there incredible views of the field–but the food service area was abundant with food and beverage readily available for hungry reporters (who hopefully give a thumbs up in their writing and broadcasting!)

View from the press box


After the press area we strolled the concourses learning about the concessions.  A fun fact that probably stuck with everyone was about the sheer volume of cheese curds consumed!  At Curds and Cake, they feature a Blue Moon beer battered Ellsworth Creamery cheese curd.  They can sell 1,500 pounds of these during an NFL game!

Our last stop was one of the specialty suites– the Cambria Suite. The space was gorgeous with custom made Cambria counter-tops featuring the Vikings colors–purple and gold!  The suites are all-inclusive for food and drink with the price of a ticket.  This has been a learning curve for determining how much food to make as they have found when it’s “all-you-can-eat” people eat a lot more!

Wall of herbs!


After our tour, those that could stay headed to Erik the Red for an optional happy hour and tour debrief.  Erik the Red opened in October and is directly across the street from the stadium in the former Hubert’s.  The theme of the restaurant is “Nordic BBQ” complete with wraps made with lefse, smorgasbords with various pickled items and smoked meats, and a whole list of braised and smoked meats to round out the barbecue.  Erik Forsberg, owner of the Erik the Red as well as Dan Kelly’s Pub and Devil’s Advocate, greeted our group and spent time answering questions about this new endeavor.  We learned about the renovations completed to turn the space into a true restaurant.  Hubert’s was always  known as a bar with some food.  He desires Erik the Red to become a neighborhood eatery–not just a place to go before or after an event at the stadium.  The nordic barbecue concept came together when they asked, “What would Minnesota barbecue look like?”  The head chef comes from Hell’s Kitchen.  Together they hashed out ideas and it became Erik the Red.  We enjoyed our food and beverages and were treated with warm apple spice and salted caramel cookies at the end!


Continuing Education: Free Webinar “Weighing in on Wasted Food”

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There is a complimentary webinar, “Weighing in on Wasted Food” , Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 1:00-2:00 p.m.CST, sponsored by Produce for a Better Health Foundation.   Register HERE

Nearly 40% of all food in America goes to waste, and this number has doubled since the 1970’s. Growing food that goes uneaten creates vast economic, environmental, and social hardships. While wasted food happens across the entire food supply chain, the majority of it happens in the retail and consumer sectors. This webinar will help describe how we can turn the tide and dial back how much food we waste. Join us for the first in a two-part series to discuss this hot topic!

Speaker:  Chris Vogliano, MS, RDN, Clinical Research Associate, Arivale

Chris is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who has a passion for creating a sustainable, waste-free, and equitable food system.  At the beginning of his career, Chris developed programming to help reduce wasted food by re purposing it into healthy meals for low-income community members.  He then became the first nutrition manager at The Greater Cleveland Food bank, where he introduced a company-wide nutrition policy that helped increase the nutrient density of over 32 million pounds of food annually.  Chris also helped write legislation for the City of Cleveland to encourage healthier food in not-for-profit settings.  He serves on national nutrition committees, was an Agriculture, Nutrition, and Health research fellow with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, and currently works as a Clinical Research Associate at a scientific wellness startup called Arivale. 


Featured Member Recipe: Smorsgard Rice Pudding

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Thank you Jean Knaak for providing this month’s featured member recipe!

This is the season of great food! We particularly remember special family meals and sharing them with family. Coming from Ulen, the 3rd most Norwegian town in Minnesota, we ate wonderful Norwegian treats.

Some of our special foods evolved into new dishes which may be preferred by even the most die-hard ethnic cook to the old recipes. This is such a recipe.

My mother, a superb cook, found and loved this rice pudding. She declared it to be better than her other recipes for Rice Pudding or Risengrot. The title Smorsgard must refer to a farm since guard means farm. However, it is an American recipe and is lovely on a dessert buffet.

“Smorsgard” Rice Pudding

1 c. rice

6 c. water

1/2 t. salt

1 quart milk

2 T. cornstarch

5 eggs

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 t. salt

1 t. almond flavoring

10 T. sugar

Cook rice with water and 1/2 t. salt until tender. Drain and add to milk and boil, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Mix in 5 well-beaten egg yolks mixed with cornstarch and bring to a slow boil. Stir in 3/4 c. sugar, 1/2 t. salt and almond flavoring. Place in 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Cover with meringue made of 5 well-beaten egg whites to which 10 tablespoons of sugar have been added gradually. Brown in a 350-degree oven. Serves 12 to 15.

Continuing Education: Webinar “Diet, Microbiome and Health”

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Diet, Microbiome and Health: Past, Present and Future.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Register now on the website.

Note that you will not need a phone, however, you WILL need speakers on your computer to hear the audio portion.

If you are unable to attend or do not have computer speakers, the webinar will be recorded and posted on our Conagra Science Institute website. CEU credit is available for our 3 most recent webinars.


Diet, Microbiome and Health: Past, Present and Future.

Date: Thursday December 15, 2016
Time: 1:00PM – 2:00PM CST

Approved for CPE Level 2 & 1 CPE credit hour by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Learner Educational Objectives

  1. What is the microbiome?
  2. What is the evidence that diet can influence the microbiome?
  3. How can the microbiome influence the response to dietary components?
  4. What is the relationship between diet, the microbiome and disease risk?


Cindy D. Davis, Ph.D.
Director of Grants and Extramural Activities
Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institutes of Health

After registering you will receive a confirmation email from our provider ReadyTalk, containing information about joining the Webinar.

Visit our Conagra Science Institute website for recordings and materials for previous webinars, product nutrition information, recipe & culinary resources, health professional resources, lifestyle counseling tools, and much more.

In the News: 2017 Flavor Trends and Industry News

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Flavor Forecast News:

  • Want to know what’s ahead in flavor trends for 2017?  Datacentral has their predictions here 
  • McCormick has published their 2017 flavor forecast here A summary article of the forecast is available here

Industry News:

  • Unconventional schedules are wearing workers thin. Many employees with irregular schedules suffer from occupational fatigue, which puts them at higher risk of accident and injury.  Click here for the article.
  • Meet Godiva’s Top Chocolate Chef.  Click here
  • Four Rules for Efficient Kitchen Design
  • Solving gender inequality issues in the workplace.  Click here

In the News: What’s New in Food?

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What’s new in food?  Here are a few articles of interest!

  • General Mills compiled data from web searches for their popular and  The result?  This map showing the holiday food preferences by state!
  • Buttermilk is making a comeback. Click here for the article
  • How about homemade croissants for your holiday table? Click here