Tuning Up Nashville's Music City Center

Can you picture a massive building with organic lines and curves that flow like the shapes of Nashville's rolling hills or the Music City's melodic sounds? With ceilings that mimic the patterns and structure of grand piano keys? Or rooms with walls that bend, filled with acoustics that make you feel as if you're standing inside of a mandolin or guitar?

The movement and fluidity of music itself was the design inspiration for the Music City Center. This center takes on the idea of a city's brand identity to a whole new level. And at 300,000 square feet of exhibit hall space, 60,000 square feet of ballroom space, and 1.2 million square feet of space in total, this convention center is music to any event director's ears. The center was needed to bring new life and business into Nashville, and needed to expand in the city's downtown urban setting, according to Charles Starks, the complex's president and CEO. He wanted the center to look like nowhere else in the world.

 In this episode of "BUILT.," in partnership with FCSI The Americas,  FCSI consultant Michael Pantano of Culinary Advisors, tvsdesign, and the visionaries behind the Music City Center work in harmony to turn this building into the pinnacle of flexibility, sustainability, and foodservice excellence.  

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In terms of functionality, Pantano always thinks like a chef. Aware that only 25 percent of a kitchen needs to be in fixed positions, whether due to the cooking line or exhaust hoods, he was able to make everything else mobile. Just as the entire convention center was flexible and fluid — without fixed concession stands or fixed dining areas so that the space could be reshaped — the kitchen could move with the needs of clients, too, able to fluctuate from serving six to six thousand.

"Our food sales have over doubled what we had projected initially and we've become known in Nashville as a place to go to for food. Not the convention center, but a place to go to for food," Starks said.

The Future Through Sustainability

The beautiful architecture and foodservice aren't the only things that set this design paragon apart from the rest. This space is also sustainable.

Above it lies a 4-acre green roof, the largest one in the Southeast, growing 14 types of vegetation. The center also has a solar farm and honey bees on site for the kitchens. The staff  keeps close relations with local farmers to serve food with a farm-to-table feel. The Music City Center also has a 360,000-gallon rainwater storage system that captures rainfall and utilizes it, not only to irrigate its plants and landscaping but also to flush their sewage system. That has led to 54 percent saving in the building's water usage in three years.

Watch the full episode above now!


Creating the State-of-the-Art Culinary Space at Northside High School

The culinary arts program at Northside started humbly in a small, little building, according to district architect Gary R. Griffith. As it expanded, both in student body and mission, the space needed to expand along with it.

"It was quite a sight to come out to Northside High School and see the program they were able to run very successfully out of some portable buildings," Eric Horstman, principal of Corgan Architecture, said. "They literally were using portable buildings with hot plates to run their entire program. So, I brought in Lance and his team into the project very early so they could be involved."

The Challenge

FCSI consultant Lance Brooks was on top of industry trends and ready to face the challenges that came with recreating the space. And his greatest inspiration for the remodel? Forth Worth ISD's Career and Tech Education Coordinator, Chef Timothy Kelly.

The chef came into the design with a unique angle: his students. He was talking about five-star restaurants, about the kids being prepared to work in every environment, and using the best of the best to acclimate them into the real world. His goals were to provide a culinary arts experience with different venues and cater to the students, whether they were training for casual or fine dining.

"Whenever we design a kitchen, we want to build in flexibility. We understand that after they are built, they are hard to adjust," Brooks said.

The space had to be a chameleon. It had to be fluid, transforming from holding a minimum of 144 students to 263. The questions were endless: Did it have to have one or two kitchens? How many classrooms? How much square footage? How many venues and restaurants?

To answer this, Brooks had several solutions. First, he put on tables on casters, allowing staff to move them and to shape the classrooms as needed. He also considered the surface flooring, choosing material that would be easy to clean and quiet for a better learning environment. Retractable cord wheels also lined the ceilings so students could use their equipment from different parts of the room. Also, a video system was placed, which would follow the chef or teacher and showcase their movements on a projector for more visibility during lessons.

The team members, with their vast, collected industry experience, also collaborated on the best equipment for the culinary program. Their proudest selection? Their hood system that was low-volume to keep the sound down and one that could easily be modified or relocated, should the space grow again. At the front of the house, two full-service, multi-purpose restaurants could be used for fine and casual dining experiences, as well as a banquet hall for school board meetings. 

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The Vision

"This collaboration was extremely successful because we all had the same vision. Our vision was our students," Alma Charles, district director of career and tech eduction, said.

Of all school projects, the team considered this project one of their greatest accomplishments. And how do their measure their success? By the success of their students. They are winning competitions left and right, not only because of their passionate instructors, but because of the space that facilitates the quality of the program.

"We kept the students in mind throughout the planning process to better prepare them for the future and to build one of the best and one of the most state-of-the-art facilities that has been created," Kelly said. 

Modernizing the Foodservice Offerings at Palos Community Hospital

Modernizing the Foodservice Offerings at Palos Community Hospital

From stark white walls and generic uniforms to outdated cafeterias, hospitals aren’t exactly known for being modern, warm, or the most appealing, if you will. In this episode of “BUILT.,” in partnership with FCSI The Americas, we explore how Palos Community Hospital in Palos Heights, IL, has modernized their foodservice offerings for employees and patients alike with the help of FCSI consultant Christine Guyott, RD.

“Typical foodservice in a hospital was polar opposite of what a dining experience in a restaurant would be, where people would actually pay for their dining experience,” says Katie Freese, director of patient access at Palos Community Hospital (PCH). “Presentation has not necessarily been placed on [the] foodservice department.”

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BUILT.: The Revitalization of Market Square in Houston

BUILT.: The Revitalization of Market Square in Houston

“The FCSI consultant learns from each other — we meet regularly, we challenge each other, we network, and we learn from what others are doing,” says Chris Tripoli, FCSI The Americas member and president at A’la Carte Foodservice Consulting Group.

This sentiment is essentially the basis of the partnership between FCSI The Americas and the Foodable Network. Through BUILT., Foodable’s new episodic network show, viewers get a front-row seat and behind-the-scenes look at how FCSI The Americas consultants tackle everyday foodservice challenges, whether it’s rethinking a hospital cafeteria, reworking an airplane menu, or restructuring restaurant habits on food waste. Each episode will focus on a different project with a different FCSI member. While viewers are led through the problem-solving journeys of these passionate individuals, they will soon discover solutions of their own.

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3 Effective Steps to Handling Product Recalls and Restaurant Communication

3 Effective Steps to Handling Product Recalls and Restaurant Communication

By Jaclyn Morgan, FCSI, JM Foodservice Consulting, LLC

When you think of recalled food, what comes to mind? Spinach, tomatoes, peanut butter, eggs? E. coli, listeria, salmonella? Last year, the USDA issued 150 recalls affecting 21 million pounds of meats and eggs alone. Add the number of recalls for produce, prepared foods, and everything in between, and the number spikes to 626 across the United States and Canada.

No, we are not in the middle of a food-apocalypse. The food supply chains and regulatory agencies are protecting consumers as they should. For the restaurant operators, this means one small step of extra vigilance for a big step to retain reputability.

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