Culinary Standards

The R&DE Stanford Dining Culinary Standards were developed in support of the Menus of Change Principles and Menus of Change University Research Collaboration. 

Overview of Menus of Change

In 2012, The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—Department of Nutrition together launched an ongoing initiative called Menus of Change: The Business of Healthy, Sustainable, Delicious Food Choices. The campaign aims to accelerate transformation within the foodservice industry by aligning leadership in nutrition and public health, environment and sustainability, culinary arts, and business innovation. By hosting an annual leadership summit, producing an annual report entitled “Charting the Future of Food & the Foodservice Industry,” and delivering year-round digital resources, Menus of Change has established itself as a thought leader, provided tools and guidance for culinary professionals, and actively engaged the foodservice industry. Each year, the annual report and leadership summit are developed in collaboration with leading scientists and business experts, who sit on the initiative's Scientific and Technical Advisory Council and Sustainable Business Leadership Council, to ensure the program and report content reflects the most current and accurate evidence available. Menus of Change promotes 24 Principles of Healthy, Sustainable Menus, and tracks progress in the foodservice industry through an annual scorecard of 15 issues, the Menus of Change Dashboard. Principles include, for example: “Globally Inspired, Largely Plant-Based Cooking;” “Designing Operations for the Future;” and “Cut the Salt.” Dashboard issues include, for example: “Portion Size and Caloric Intake;” “Fish, Seafood, and Oceans;” and “Supply Chain Resiliency and Transparency.” We encourage you to read the full lists and learn more at

Overview of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative

Founded and jointly led by Stanford University and The Culinary Institute of America, the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative (MCURC) is a network of 115 members representing 41 institutions: 24 member colleges and universities, 12 colleges and universities represented by academic faculty, and three ex officio organizations. Members include university-based faculty and staff as well as leaders from campus dining operations. The Collaborative consists of a diverse mix of perspectives as far as geographic location, size and type of institution (both private and public), fields of study, and types of dining operations.

The purpose of MCURC is to create a culture of sharing and innovation within and among colleges and universities using the Menus of Change principles in their campus dining operations, and to develop a research agenda related to those principles. MCURC aims to impact the university and college food system by forming a synergistic network of university-based scholars, administrators, foodservice business leaders, and executive chefs to explore critical food issues within university settings, as well as to share these research findings with colleagues. The interdisciplinary strengths of the collaborative address the critical roles that culinary arts, menu design, ingredient sources, and restaurant layout can play in fostering these changes.

R&DE Stanford Dining Culinary Standards

  1. Lead with Delicious Flavors
    Innovative menus and inspired cuisine must be delicious.
  2. Produce Centric
    Focus on fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, including lots of leafy greens, and combinations of colorful fruits.
  3. Whole Foods
    Use whole, minimally processed foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole and intact grains.
  4. Plant-Based Proteins
    Increase the ratio of plant-based proteins in menus, with high-quality animal proteins being in a supporting role.
  5. Source Sustainable Animal Proteins
    Humane animal, sustainable environment, and good labor practices are priorities when sourcing meats and seafood.
  6. Fresh and Seasonal Produce, both Local and Global
    Source fresh, peak-of-season foods from farms, which use sustainable growing practices, including local producers and those in more distant regions.
  7. Just-in-Time Cooking Techniques
    Use just-in-time cooking techniques, preparing our food fresh and in small batches just before service to ensure the best quality and eating experience.
  8. Right Size Portions
    Right size and offer smaller portions, which emphasize quality, flavor, and culinary adventure. Use Performance Dining standards when developing menus.
  9. Healthy Beverages
    Reduce sugary beverages and offer healthy house-made beverage alternatives such as spa waters or teas infused with fresh fruits, herbs, and aromatics.
  10. Healthier Oils
    Prepare menus using healthy and beneficial plant oils such as olive and canola oils.
  11. Reduce Added Sugar and Salt
    Deliver flavor through high-flavor produce, aromatics, and healthy house-made sauces and dressings. Limit added salt and sugar when building flavor.
  12. Food Safety
    Maintain the highest standards of food safety through observing proper foodservice safety and sanitation procedures, regular employee training, and HACCP compliance.
  13. Celebrate Cultural Diversity
    Savor culinary heritage while reimagining those elements of culturally-based food traditions that may be less healthy by limiting portion size, rebalancing ingredient proportions, or offering these foods less often.
  14. Diverse Dietary Preferences
    Meal options accommodate a wide range of tastes and dietary needs including vegan, vegetarian, kosher, halal, and many other dietary requirements and preferences.
  15. Menu Transparency
    Inform customers how their food was produced, include information on labor, animal welfare, environmental practices, and allergen information of the top 8 allergens plus gluten.