by Rob Corliss, Chef/Founder, A.T.E. (All Things Epicurean)
For all of us in foodservice, tracking the latest flavor trends and consumer preferences is crucial for success. As a culinary consultant, it’s my job to translate sustaining trends into actionable menu items that create buzz and generate business growth. With that in mind, here are five that I think will continue to influence dining behavior, and that require thoughtful attention when it comes to modern menu strategy.
Evolving Lifestyles: Personalized nutrition could be the evolution beyond diet and specific food attributes, as consumers are now looking for personalized food connections that meet their individual needs and more importantly, their lifestyles. As part of this, we’ll see more chefs addressing contemporary wellness shifts.
Thin is the New Thick: New and unexpected thinner texture applications (internal/external) delivering BIG texture with thin and also lighter (thinner) sweetness, portions and alcohol content with food and drinks—all with a flavor-first approach.
The Next Wave of Snacking: Snacking is a confluence of our busier schedules and unpredictable daily eating habits—how will its influence continue to blur the line between restaurant meal hours, portion sizes, what is considered a snack or a meal, and how chefs position menu items to consumers?
Industry Culture: The culinary staffing pool seems to be dwindling and more competitive. Modern methods of cultivating a better cultural connection via acquiring, inspiring and keeping long-term, passionate employees will become a focus.
Ingredient Star: Seaweed, in all forms, taps into both the functional and plant-based food trends. We’ll see it as a showcased ingredient in beverages, snacks, sides, sauces, salads, bowls and entrée components., adding its savory, earthy tones.
My NRA Game Plan
Each year at the NRA Show, the content and tradeshow spark my interest and help me keep on top of trends. I look for two things in particular:
1) Commonalities among ingredients/buzzwords/techniques/stories that may identify trend paths
2) A specific need—in 2018, this will be searching and trialling innovative to-go packaging and digital ordering/tracking tools