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2021 Trends Foodservice Consultants Should Consider

Sustainable consumption and healthy eating, along with climate change, are significantly influencing consumer choices.

 More than ever before, people want to know the source of their food, how healthy are its contents, and whether it has been produced, processed, packaged and distributed in a sustainable fashion.

This article from Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) quotes a report by the research firm Datassential indicating the climate crisis and a new generation of plant-based foods will impact our industry in 2020, and these are all trends that foodservice consultants should know.

Sustainable Food

The relevant questions for sustainable food are how much land is required, how much water are we using, and are we using too much energy in the production and processing of our food supplies?

Tastewise, a company that brings the power of AI to analyzing food trends, studied over two billion social interactions, more than three million online recipes, and the largest restaurant menu database available of 274,000 restaurants to conclude that, compared to a year ago, food sustainability is a high priority item for 23 percent more consumers. 

Customers are now placing greater emphasis on sustainable ingredients and resource-light production techniques like hydroponics, recyclable packaging, and the avoidance of plastic. Another notable fact is the emergence of vegetarianism and veganism as mainstream trends. 

Clara Ming Pi of FCSI says, "I am very pleased to say that, finally, the plant-based movement is here!" The adoption of plant-based foods has another motivation driving it: health consciousness.

Healthier Food Choices

It turns out that a meat-based diet is not only resource-intensive but also a contributing factor to health issues like cancer. 

"Our food supplies contribute to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, and the foods that create the most greenhouse gases are the same foods that are contributing to many of our chronic diseases," Pi said. 

Thirty-nine percent of consumers' conversations about sustainable food also include references to the health benefits of various food choices. Another relevant statistic is that the sale of plant-based food in the U.S. has increased by 8.1 percent over the last year. 

"We see more healthy, sustainable and plant-based dining that tastes appetizing to a wider demographic than ever before," said Melanie Corey-Ferrini, CEO of 3.14DC Design and Consulting, an FCSI associate.

Technology and the Food Chain

The food industry needs to cope with shifts in consumers' preferences. Advances in technology enable production techniques like hydroponics. Technological advances also help the industry cope with the recent trend towards catering and takeout. Restaurant layout, kitchen design, and staff skills have to change to adapt to this emerging trend. 

"Think smart equipment, mobile technology like order/pay apps, and robots for foodservice tasks including delivery,” said Connie Dickson, a principal with FCSI associate member.

Taste Trends

FSCI reports the following shifts in U.S. consumers' taste preferences:

  • Trending regional flavors: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Latin American.
  • Foreign foods in demand: Mexican Puebla Hot Pot (a chicken dish), Greek Manouri (a goat cheese), Indian Millet (an ancient grain), Tanzanian Mishkaki (marinated meat skewers), and Chinese Jianbing (street-food breakfast crepe)
  • Growing restaurant concepts: Chef-driven fast-casual, Farm-to-table, and Family-friendly
  • Emerging restaurant concepts: Dog-friendly, Upcycling, and Hyper-local
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Webinar: Top 10 Trends of 2021

Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Webinar: Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Your world has been dominated by shifts and progressions, forcing the evolution of your operations. So how can you keep up?

After months of surveys, conversations, trainings, and research, we’ve identified 10 foodservice trends to help you rise into the new year.

You’ll learn:
The top 10 foodservice trends in 2021
How other businesses and industries are adapting
How to implement these strategies for yourself

Reserve your spot now!

Recorded Webinar

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Restaurant Trend Predictions for 2021

As we venture into the new decade, the market for food is making some pretty drastic changes.

Make sure your New Year's resolutions include more than expanding your menu. From new recipes to the biggest of trends, everyone is looking for ways to improve the customer experience, and here are a few of our predictions to look out for in the New Year.

1. Transparency

People want to know what's in their food, how it's made, and if it's good for them. Throughout 2021, consumers will want restaurants to expand on transparency when it comes to how guests are spending their money. This can mean build-your-own options, front-of-the-house theater kitchens, sourcing listed on menus, and much more. Either way, today’s consumers, especially those Millennials and Gen Zers, are looking for information about what they’re eating.

2. Home-Meal Kits

Those subscription meal kits that have been taking over in 2020 will continue to be all the craze as we embrace 2021. Their easily accessible content can make grocery shopping unnecessary, and they give you the chance to try new recipes without making too much to eat. Consumers love that each kit measures the needed ingredients and allows you to cut back on the preparation time it takes to make a delicious dish. Most of the subscriptions offer organic or meat-free choices, leaning into that healthier diet movement.

3. Green Growth

Healthy eating is the new trend, and it's taking over by storm. More people are growing cautious over the things they put in their bodies, requesting more plant-based meals and actually changing their diets. You can expect green vegetables to be the 2021 craze, as well as a continuation of plant-based meat options. Another perk is that focusing on greens is more eco-friendly and sustainable, which is another draw for younger demographics.

4. Take-Out and Delivery

As technology makes access to delivery easier, it's efficient in allowing consumers to continue their busy schedules without having to sit down in a restaurant to eat. More people are dropping by to pick up orders or simply requesting somebody to deliver them through various apps. Restaurants will be pushed to cater to those consumers more frequently in the upcoming year, and they will need to expand on their menu and carry-out options for those orders that leave their location. This will take thought, foresight, and the equipment and staff to deliver quality.

5. Fermented Drinks 

Kombucha has been flying off the shelves since it appeared on many people's radar due to a meme on social media. Upon discovering it, it's created and remained a trend due to the health benefits that come with drinking it, especially in communities that are more health-conscious to begin with. We anticipate this trend to continue growing, though, even into cities or certain parts of the country that have had limited exposure to soft drink alternatives like kombucha. Here’s to the ‘booch!

6. Strange and Out There

While trends are exciting, more operations are getting bold when it comes to growing their business and gaining attention. The 2021 year will bring more eye-catching menu items and ideas that are a little wild in comparison to the typical plain burger or salad. To make sure these items are crave-worthy, you'll notice they're only offered for a limited time. This is a great play on marketing and pushes hungry customers to want to try the newest item before it's gone forever. 

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The COVID Resource Roundup

If there was one word to describe 2020, “uncertainty” has to be at the top of the list.

The world has completely changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ability to adapt and adjust to this new world we live in, especially in foodservice, has never been more critical. Here at Lakeside, our first instinct is to help our customers, whether it’s through in-room meal solutions in healthcare, sanitization in restaurants, or meal delivery and accessibility in K-12 and colleges and universities.

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2 Drainage Options All Foodservice Consultants Should Know About

Made To Drain created two unique products designed to make drainage easy, effective, and convenient.

What sets Made To Drain (MTD) apart is the engineered floor troughs developed to assist and enhance the draining process. The Leak Eliminator and Clog-Free™ are two of MTD's products that are making a big difference in kitchens everywhere. Anyone who works in the foodservice industry will want to know about these amazing drain options.

Made To Drain's Leak Eliminator

Nobody wants to deal with having a leak no matter how big or small the damage is. The Leak Eliminator was designed by MTD is help avoid unnecessary leaks when it comes to floor trough installations. All of MTD's products are created with the intention of containing and redirecting excessive water and debris. The seepage flange mates support the flooring of the trough while also clenching down to create a "watertight seal". The weep holes placed on the flange permit any excess liquid to smoothly flow into the building drain line. Investing in the Leak Eliminator is a good way to be proactive and, hopefully, avoid leaks all together! The Leak Eliminator, and all of MTD's products, were carefully constructed to guarantee the highest levels of quality and safety for their consumers and customers. Buying the Leak Eliminator is not just an everyday purchase but an investment. Read more the specifics of the Leak Eliminator by visiting MTD's site.

Made To Drain's Clog-Free™

MTD's Clog-Free™ has given drainage a whole new image and reputation. Clogs are a problem of the past when consumers invest in Clog-Free™. With Clog-Free™ consumers are able to completely eliminate free-standing water. This particular product provides the ultimate protection for any tile and grout used to ground a floor trough by virtually cutting back on all clogs and leaks. As a result, another added benefit of Clog-Free™ is a noteworthy difference in minimizing the number of slips and falls taking place in the kitchen area. Clog-Free™ takes safety to a new level.

However, it is the high capacity strainer trays that make Clog-Free™ stand out. Watch this video to see how beautifully the tray works in action. Grease traps will indirectly greatly benefit from investing in Clog-Free™ by reducing the amount of sediment throughout the process. Not to mention, the additional perk of never having to make another maintenance-related phone call is enough to make anyone in the foodservice industry consider investing in Clog-Free™.

How to make the best drainage choice

Food consultants are one-way interested individuals are able to learn about drainage options when it comes to the foodservice industry. Made To Design's website provides potential customers with the essential information needed to make the best decision. For each product

Made To Design shares the spec sheet, Revit, and installation guide of each and every product. Navigating the architecture of MTD's products can seem overwhelming, but it is actually a very easy process. Made To Drain provides all of their contact information for any questions or concerns and is happy to help you with this process. Use this tool provided by Made To Drain to find a rep nearby to begin exploring all of the products and opportunities today.

In the past, drainage may have not been considered innovative or impressive, but Made To Drain has changed the drainage game. The foodservice industry is changing for the better with products like Leak Eliminator and  Clog-Free™. It can be overwhelming to begin thinking about these changes and purchases, but Made To Drain is here to help. Check out MTD's engineered floor troughs and remarkable draining options and it will be obvious why consumers will want to invest in these products.

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How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020

Pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan.

Many have prepared for emergencies like fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or mass shootings, but a pandemic was not on the list for the near future. Since being prepared is key to any good action plan, a lot of pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan. Nonetheless, they stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park with response plans created to anticipate the worst, respond immediately, and adapt to the inevitable changes to come. Circumstances differ from hospital to hospital due to location and outbreak, but food service leaders are working hard to keep providing food to patients and staff.

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The Celebrity Appeal Behind Food Waste Reduction

Food waste reduction is popular for a variety of reasons. It fights hunger. It's good for the environment. It's appealing to younger consumers. And it's profitable.

But there's another type of popularity to consider when it comes to food waste reduction, and it involves celebrities and household names.

James Beard is arguably the most recognized name we associate with restaurants. The James Beard Foundation Awards are essentially the "Oscars of Food," as every year, restaurants, chefs, journalists, writers, TV producers, bartenders, and sommeliers are given our country's top honors. Now, they're also educating us on how to make the most of our food.

With the release of Waste Not: How to Get the Most From Your Food, the James Beard Foundation provides some answers from several "scrap-savvy" chefs. Some of their tips?

  • Utilize roots as part of the dish. They can add a beautiful element, and depending on the type of vegetable, add a great bitter element.
  • Roast wilting vegetables like celery and carrots to bring them back to life.
  • Don't peel vegetables. Instead of shedding the outer layer of a carrot or cucumber, wash it well, and use the brilliant colors. Citrus peels? Send them to the bar for use in cocktails.
  • Purée wilting herbs with olive oil before they turn black. Then freeze them for later use.
  • Freeze berries on a tray rather than together so they don's stick to one another.
  • Use vegetable scraps, roots, tops, and greens to create vegetable stock.

These are just a few examples contained in James Beard's book on food waste, but the Beard name isn't the only one popping up in food waste reduction efforts. All across the country, famous chefs and culinary experts are joining the fray, as we look to reduce the amount of food we waste.

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste

A film from the late executive producer Anthony Bourdain, Wasted! The Story of Food Waste aims to change the way people buy, cook, recycle, and eat food. As seen through the eyes of some of the most famous chefs in the world, this documentary shows viewers how to make the most of our foods, transforming what most consider as scraps into incredible dishes.

Celebrity Chefs Across the Pond

In an article in Reuters, Chef Douglas McMaster described working in a previous job as a young cook, watching as hundreds of gem lettuces were thrown away as only the root was served... as a garnish. McMaster was the 2009 BBC Young Chef of the Year and now owns Britain's first zero-waste restaurant.

"We like to think of zero waste as not having a bin," McMaster said. "Every natural thing has a purpose, you just got to find out what that purpose is."

Food Waste Pop-Ups

Chef Dan Barber was featured in the first season of Netflix's critically-acclaimed series, Chef's Table. Barber has been called a "philosopher chef," and owns the prestigious Blue Hill restaurant in Westchester County, New York. He also owned a restaurant in Greenwich Village called Blue Hill, but changed it to a food waste pop-up called WastED, serving dishes from ingredients that would normally be headed for the trash.

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Did Someone Order Delivery? In-Room Service Gains Traction

In-Room Service Gains Traction Amongst Hospitals & Care Facilities Across The Country

The limitations and closures of gathering points in hospitals due to COVID-19 have impacted in-room service. However, special attention to in-room service was gaining traction well before the pandemic began. Doctors have always said food can be more than fuel for your body, and with the right nutrients, it can help in the healing process too. Some hospitals are using that concept, as well as patient experience, to change the stereotypes of hospital food for the better and improve patient satisfaction.  Let's take a look at three healthcare facilities in particular that have started to take a more hospitality-inspired approach to in-room service.

UCLA HEALTH SYSTEM

Open 6:45 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., UCLA offers a restaurant ordering system where the kitchen cooks meals on-demand with menus updated to physician requested, plant-based meals with protein optional additions. Regularly scheduled tray service is still available to neuropsychiatry patients, which is why UCLA's kitchen is separated into two sections to cater to both types of services.

Keeping in mind there is a 90-minute window between mealtimes, UCLA staff alternates between making and sending 25 trays to 1 unit in neuropsychiatric care and cooking and delivering room service tickets. This staggered approach has eliminated many challenges associated with offering both services.

Room service at UCLA is promised to arrive within 45 minutes but averages 28 minutes. What's their secret? Food lifts.

Each floor has a dedicated cart with a timer for seven minutes. The cart is wheeled into the lift,  sent up to its designated floor, and the patient is immediately notified. To ensure quality, the cart enters into a pantry where hot and cold additions are added just before being taken to the patient, and the meal is delivered with food and drinks at the correct temperatures.

JOHNS HOPKINS HEALTH SYSTEM

John Hopkins offers Hotel-style, on-demand room service to their patients. They name this style of service the Johns Hopkins At Your Request program. Doctors realized there was a lot of food waste when they had patients ordering the day before, resulting in many being unavailable to receive their meals.

The John Hopkins At You Request program gives patients the flexibility to order their meals anytime between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and receive it within 60 minutes. To better accommodate nutritional diets prescribed to patients, John Hopkins also provides a nutritional department to help assist in meal decisions. Their diverse menu options are a significant factor in the success of the program.

The freedom to choose between traditional hospital foods like meatloaf and upscale items like salmon makes the patient feel satisfied with their meal experience, even when they don't order the extravagant items. In fact, the majority stick with the traditional items, while the occasional upscale orders bring comfort to patients and family members who need it.

ST. JUDE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL

St. Jude's primary focus is on young patients and their families. Patients aren't limited to in-hospital care, as many of their outpatients go through treatment at nearby housing sponsored by St. Jude and receive their customized meals there. They use a Combi Oven to deliver quality food within expectations of 30 – 45 minutes. As for their future plans for servie? They're expected to upgrade their systems to TV-operated ordering services and explore newer cooking technologies. Nonetheless, their specialty is in the services they provide.

Considering the age of their patients, their happiness is a priority. The chef often greets patients with a hug and smile, with meals that are fully specialized to encourage the patient to eat and heal. So much so, that patients have even gone to the kitchen to teach the chefs how to make their food!

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How to Provide Catering Services in the Age of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for most catering companies across the country.

As events begin to happen again, you may be wondering if your catering company is prepared to handle safe foodservice during this unique time. Fortunately, making a few simple adjustments to your regular operations can make it easier to return to working at events while keeping your employees, clients, and clients' guests safe. Here are five tips for safely providing catering services during the age of COVID-19!

Consider Flameless Alternatives to Keep Food Warm

Although many catering companies continue to use flames to keep food warm until it is served, this approach comes with several disadvantages. In addition to the obvious danger of using an open flame when it may not be necessary, this type of heating requires that someone from your catering company stay until the end of the event to monitor the flame and clean up the equipment.

However, as contactless pickup and delivery are becoming more and more common across the restaurant industry, many of your clients may be interested in this type of approach. By switching to a disposable heating source, some which only require water and keeps food hot for up to one hour, you can simply drop off catered food without having to return later to pick items up. This alternative can increase safety and convenience for both your clients and your employees.

Limit Self-Service Options

Although buffets and salad bars are usually convenient choices for many types of events, they may not be the safest options during COVID-19. Consider temporarily limiting your options to full meals, served either by a member of your team or as prepackaged meals, instead of allowing event guests to serve themselves to prevent possible contamination.

Wear Gloves While Handling Food

Although caterers and other foodservice employees should always wear gloves while directly handling food, this step is even more important in the age of COVID-19. Caterers should also wear gloves when serving meals or delivering food to the venue.

Sanitize Equipment Thoroughly

Likewise, following guidelines for thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing equipment and surfaces is a must. Be sure to wipe down tables before setting up and after serving, launder tablecloths between uses, and store dishes properly after washing them to prevent contamination. It may also be a good idea to consider temporarily switching to disposable dishes, napkins, and utensils for some or all of your events to minimize the number of items you need to disinfect.

Establish Your Restaurant or Foodservice Company as a Trusted Brand

Providing high-quality food and service to establish a strong reputation in your community and a base of recurring customers is crucial under normal circumstances, but it is more important than ever to make sure that your brand becomes known for paying close attention to safety recommendations.

Returning to the frequency and size of events that you are used to providing catering services for will take time, and many of your clients will not make the decision to host an event that requires catering without hesitation. With this in mind, being able to assure your clients that your catering company is a trusted brand that is following food safety guidelines and other current recommendations will go a long way toward returning to a thriving catering company.

At Lakeside Foodservice, we know that this year's significant decline in events has been difficult for many catering companies, restaurants, and other businesses within the foodservice industry. Fortunately, opportunities for caterers to safely move toward normal operations are beginning to return in some areas. By following these simple guidelines, providing safe catering services is possible even during the age of COVID-19. For more tips and solutions for navigating the current situation while keeping your clients safe, check out our COVID-19 Solutions Guide.

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The Future of Restaurants in the COVID Era

Chef

Restaurants, hospitality, and other types of foodservice operations can expect a variety of changes as we move forward into 2021.

Though so much has changed already, there are additional changes we can expect as we finish out 2020. Restaurants and other types of operations can expect a continued focus on safety and the mitigation of potential Coronavirus spread, and this will result in a dependency on new and innovative foodservice equipment and supplies.

As an example, just consider what restaurants face when new products or ingredients arrive at the back door. As we know from numerous reports, the coronavirus can live on cardboard for varying amounts of time. This means removing boxes from food production areas, as well as training staff to properly disinfect after receiving and disposing of boxes, can be a critical step in preventing the spread of COVID-19. We can expect storage options like Lexan containers to be in high demand as restaurants look to shelve items and ingredients on their own versus the boxes in which they were delivered.

HOW WILL THE BACK-OF-HOUSE CHANGE?

Certainly, receiving and storage will be an important part of any back-of-house changes, as will staff training on sanitation processes, but what else can we expect in commercial kitchens as we look to 2021?

We're working through that question right now in many ways. Separation and social distancing are critical, but that can often be impossible in the tight quarters of a kitchen. Dividers and partitions can keep cooks safe, and many restaurants are even considering pods where small groups are separate from other small groups. Expeditors are also a great way to separate those who can touch food from those who cannot.

The back-of-the-house should be isolated from the front-of-the-house as much as possible. One easy way to do this is to create separate entrances for employees and customers, with important sanitation protocols posted at both doors. Gloves, aprons, masks, and other personal protective equipment are great indicators that an operation has a plan in place, and this goes a long way to increasing customer confidence.

HOW WILL THE FRONT-OF-THE-HOUSE CHANGE?

Customer confidence is a phrase worth repeating. Right now, more than anything, more than even food quality and convenience, customer confidence is probably the most important benefit a restaurant can provide.

Everyone has different levels of comfort as it pertains to COVID-19. There are people who have little to no concern about entering a restaurant, and there are others who are still having groceries delivered to their homes and will not leave their own confines. Most people are somewhere in the middle, and as they gain confidence in consumer safety efforts, they'll likely be more comfortable to enter a restaurant, even if it's just for takeout.

Today's restaurant needs multiple layers of protection, barriers and partitions to reinforce the safety of products, furniture, staff, and guests. Main considerations include minimal and spaced tables, a streamlined ordering and paying process, and then minimal contact for food delivery.

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE

By now, it's pretty obvious things will change in the restaurant industry. Even after a vaccine is in place for COVID-19, many of the precautions we're learning today will likely carry over as best practices in the future.

Some of the other things to look for and consider will be UV lights for coolers and storages areas, mobile prep areas and action stations to isolate parts of the cooking process and even bring them to the front-of-the-house, as well as the continued use of sanitation stations and safety partitions.

WHERE TO START:

Re-purposing your equipment to a COVID-19 world is possible. There are also some new solutions to inspire your efforts in meal delivery, sanitation, social distancing, and more. Need inspiration? Here's a guide on Product Solutions to keep your business moving in a COVID-19 world.