Mac and cheese serves up a great platform for innovation. More sides and shareables, cast-iron serving pans, bite-sized balls, unique add-ins, and longer noodles are also becoming the norm among trend-forward menus. Doing something different—and doing it well—is key to transforming mac and cheese from a stalwart side into a buzz-worthy bite.
Milk Bar in New York started the cereal milk craze a few years back. Now, operators are maximizing the emotional tie most diners have to cereal, then upping the game by featuring both the cereal milk and cereal in pancakes, cocktails, desserts and more.
Today, the snacking category is huge, and the bar bite category continues to deliver a world of flavor-forward, fun choices. Candied bacon, meatballs, tots, veg-centric dishes like Crispy Squash Blossoms are all on the menu.
Smoke’s distinctive air is wafting into new categories, including cocktails, fruit, vegetables and honey. Here are 10 trend-forward ideas for featuring creative smoked options on your menu.
With consumers showing hummus so much love, there’s an opportunity for menu differentiation through creative play in flavor combinations—both in the hummus and atop. Jorge Cespedes brings you five creative ways to top plant-based purées, lending flavor, texture and menu differentiation.
What better springboard for seafood innovation than Lent? Seafood consumption up, and there’s a general uptick in excitement around seafood. The pathway to success follows two strategies that walk hand-in-hand today: flavor and sustainability.
Estevan Jimenez is the executive chef and culinary instructor at Rancho Cielo Youth Campus in Salinas, Calif. He shares five flavors that inspire his culinary creativity.

Recipes

Magazine

In preparation for Lent we have a feature on how to make the most of seafood on your menu, with strategies from several restaurants.

There's also a fun, inspiring piece on how to make your menu more appealing to the Instagram generation.

Cereal is huge. We're talking about cereal milks, boozy cereal milks, and cereal in shakes, desserts, and pretty much everywhere else.

We're also covering smoke and trending sauces, and we've got a major cocktail tour, plus 10 ways to update the classic cocktails.

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Videos

For Spokane, Washington–based chef Adam Hegsted, beef means profits across his restaurant group, from the pure craveability of a Teres major steak, cooked sous vide then grilled, to Spaghetti-Stuffed Meatballs that turn a beloved classic literally inside out.
Vibrant color dinnerware options from Libbey® help your one-of-a-kind plating ideas take flight, creating new looks to complement your venue’s unique character. Serve up an experience that is funky, eclectic or adventurous – and always memorable.

Ingredients

Modern applications of compressed watermelon featured at two Oakland, Calif., restaurants
Chefs across the country are taking something inherently craveable and familiar — cheese — and relying on it to elevate a menu item. Infinitely adaptable and universally loved, cheese offers a sound strategy in modern menu development. Here’s what’s hitting creative menus today.

Beverages

Mixologists continue to introduce innovative new cocktails, but the classics never go out of style. These drinks are standbys for a reason: well balanced, broadly appealing, reliably satisfying, nicely nostalgic. They’re enjoying a refresh as operators look to create new experiences with familiar favorites
To identify what is being done to drive appeal and sales of cocktails at trend-forward concepts, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits set out on its second-annual fact-finding tour. The standout discovery this year is the creative and sophisticated use of high-impact ingredients that introduce unique profiles to classic cocktails. Based on our research, here are four key opportunities in the cocktail category.

Desserts

Look southward for the next big thing in dessert texture—buñuelos. Here are four opportunities to showcase buñuelos in trend-forward dessert applications.
Exploring the versatility of the avocado, this Sweet Avocado Surrender Sundae stars avocado-mango ice cream, Mexican hot chocolate sauce and chocolate-chipotle avocado doughnut holes.

Strategy

There are really no limits to flavor play in the breakfast space. We bring you inspiration. Salmon tacos. Avocado chicharrones. Adjarian Khachapuri - a flatbread from Georgia. A Roasted Pear, Spinach and Gorgonzola Omelette. And much much more.
What does Gen Z represent for restaurant brands, and how are operators strategizing? We took a snapshot to help better understand these younger dining consumers, coloring in the profile of Gen Z while also outlining a few concepts’ savvy approach in making them loyal customers.