The movers and shakers in the restaurant business recently met for the National Restaurant Show, a huge annual industry trade show.
Attendees tasted, cooked, drank and educated about food and its preparation for restaurants.
Preparation for us as customers.
In addition to sharing advances and innovations, every year they predict what new foods and trends in preparation for what they will present to consumers and whether or not we will accept them eagerly.
Restaurant Food Trends
The latest food trends for the coming year might or might not impress you and may not be the best choices for your health either. They will tempt us with flavor and uniqueness and will be found at most restaurants across the country.
Let’s look at what is coming on the restaurant menu:
- Clean food – the industry feels that we are more concerned with the ingredients in their foods than with the calories they contain. The push is therefore on for minimally processed, fresh ingredients free of artificial colors, preservatives, grass fed beef and free range options.
- Freshness will be front and center as national chains move toward allowing us to see how they are cooking. Kitchens will become open and their methods more transparent. The equipment moves from stainless steel to brightly colored décor to show off not only the food but the atmosphere as well.
- Jerky from different proteins, including wild game such as bison, boar and other protein sources including turkey and even trout. Jerky is a dried meat that is useful when taking it along with you such as for camping, backpacking and trekking in the great outdoors. More people seem to be enjoying it at home and at restaurants as part of the meal. Because it is dried, it requires no refrigeration great for bringing it along. In the past, lean meats have traditionally been used and not all types of meat were processed in this way because the final product was less than appealing. When using game, special care needs to be taken to ensure that it is not contaminated from the kill and that any microorganisms or parasites have been killed. The meat can be frozen then marinated with an acidic marinade and then dried. Depending on how it was processed, 1 oz. of wild game jerky can contain about 80 calories, 350-400 mg sodium, and 2-3 g fat.
- Hard Ciders for each season made by a variety of manufacturers. They include such offerings as pineapple cider or apricot pear cider and are made with artisanal ingredients. A variety of different apples and other fruits are being made into cider containing about 6% alcohol.
- Coffee masquerading as a pint of stout by infusing it with nitrogen. This makes the coffee foamy with a head on it similar to beer.
- Local spirits, alcohol products that are produced in states not usually known for manufacturing these beverages. Including whiskey and other cocktail ingredients.
- Both sweet and spicy teas will be popular menu items in the coming year. Teas made from elder flower, turmeric root with a golden hue, and adding chocolate to standard tea will offer non-caloric options with robust flavors.
- Bone broth. National chains will begin serving bone broth on the menu to appeal to our desire for comfort foods. Not only will we see the standard beef and chicken but also Pho and Asian ginger broths will be available to tickle our taste buds.
- Savory jelly and jam including herbed citrus will overtake the pickling that we see now. Joining the sriracha movement will be garlic tomato and habanero jams. Fermented foods will continue to be popular using even more nontraditional vegetables and keeps sustainability and locally grown foods in the forefront as chefs use pickling to serve local foods year round.
- Celery makes a strong appearance as a kale alternate being served not only by itself but combined in other foods on the menu.
Restaurants are always trying to be in the forefront ahead of what consumers want and are willing to pay for when they order off the menu. Restaurateurs have to be proactive to be successful.
What Consumers Want When Dining Out
Eateries believe consumers are ready to go back to comfort, simplicity and freshness. We aren’t as concerned about calories and fat. We want farm freshness and it is apparently okay if it is loaded with butter and also lard, tallow, and duck fat too. Although I think healthy eaters will want to have freshness without added fat especially those who regularly eat out.
Restaurant experts tell us consumers have a sense of satisfaction when we can see them prepare the food and know that it is fresh and not out of a frozen box. Seeing the open kitchen concept is helping us perceive that the quality of our food is better. They are even going one step further by sharing their cooking methods on the menu with more descriptions of the recipe’s authentic beginnings. This could be very interesting and informative if done well.
Some of our need for sustainability can be seen in the broth and butchering practices that are emerging as a trend. Chefs want to use the whole animal and avoid waste. We will see more lamb, duck, fig, ghost pepper, truffles and banh mi as we search for uniqueness.
We will see more use of 3D food printing that will make eating an art form with beautiful designs for decorating using a printer. The use of 3D food printing is in its infancy and will only become more prevalent as it is perfected and its cost becomes more affordable.
What do you think of some of these trends? Will you order them? Which ones fit into your healthy eating plan and which don’t?