CRACK OPEN AN EGGPLANT

It’s brand spanking new: eggplant the size of an egg. Morari Specialties just introduced baby eggplants, which are less bitter than the large versions and contain less seeds and water. They also have a more crisp and savory flavor than full-sized eggplants and have a firm, thorn-free skin and tender core. Stuff them with spinach or crab dip, cut and deep-fry them or slice them onto a pizza. The baby eggplants are available to foodservice year-round in 10-pound cartons. The company also offers a mini cookbook.

Contact: Morari Specialties Inc., 8224 NW 30th Terrace, Doral, FL 33122; phone: (888) 766-7274; Web: www.morarispecialties.com.

GO MCDONALD’S

Mark Lepine, director of food innovation and development for McDonald’s Corp., accepted The Packer and Produce Concepts magazine’s 2005 Produce Achievement Award on behalf of the company from Robb Bertels, vice president/publishing director at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference in Monterey, Calif., in July.

The chain received the award for its efforts to include and promote more healthful items on the menu, evi-denced by its elaborate launch of its premium fruit and walnut salad this year. Besides enlisting the help of celebrities for a New York press event at the national launch of the salad, it backed the launch with the largest print advertising purchase for a launch in McDonald’s history, which propelled the sliced apple, grape and walnut salad into the spotlight.

In 2005, McDonald’s will move . . .

--80 million pounds of salad mix.
--30 million pounds of tomatoes.
--55 million pounds of apples.
--7 million pounds of grapes.
--4 million pounds of walnuts.

TOP HONORS

Richard Rosendale, chef de cuisine of Tavern Restaurant at The Greenbrier in White Sulpher Springs, W.Va., received the Chef of the Year Award at the American Culinary Federation National Convention in San Antonio in August. He’s no amateur with competitions. He has won 25 national and international medals and was a member of the ACF Culinary Team USA 2004, which took a gold medal in hot food at the 21st International Culinary Exhibition in Erfurt, Germany.