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TEST – Top 10 Current Chef-Focused Trends – MKTO Lightbox

Top 10 Current Chef-Focused Trends

Each year, the National Restaurant Association conducts a survey to identify the hottest culinary trends.

This year's survey tells us in no uncertain terms that sustainability, hyper-locally sourced foods, plant-based foods, and vegetable-focused dishes are some of the nation's hottest food trends. Below, we've provided the NRA's top-10 list of current chef-focused trends which restaurants are following to meet customer demands for sustainability, nutrition, taste, and personal choice.

1. Cannabis/CBD oil-infused drinks

According to the "What's Hot Culinary Forecast," 77% of the American Culinary Federation chefs placed drinks infused with cannabis or CBD as the top trend. And it's anticipated that this trend will only become more popular in the future as more states legalize cannabis.

2. Cannabis/CBD oil-infused foods

For some time, cannabis-enhanced foods were limited to desserts. Now, however, chefs are experimenting with all sorts of healthy options across the menu, made from cannabis-infused ingredients such as honey, nuts, coffee, and all-natural teas.

3. Zero-waste cooking

Zero-waste cooking ranks as the third top trend overall for 2019. Each day, chefs are finding more ways to use all parts of a food product, particularly plant-based items. As the NRA reports, chefs are now using coffee grounds to flavor ice cream as a way of reducing food waste. They're even using cabbage butts in stir-fries, not letting even the smallest usable portion of a plant-based food go to waste.

4. Globally-inspired breakfast dishes 

Chefs are searching the world in person and on the internet to find inspiration for breakfast dishes. Rice, soup, vegetable-and-bean bowls (like the Hawaiian poke bowl, the traditional Latin American rice and beans, or Asian rice dishes), are becoming popular for breakfast. And not only are they high in nutrition, but they're always carefully prepared and made into a great presentation from to appeal to today's highly visual consumer.

5. Global flavors in kids' meals

Chefs are taking inspiration from spices and flavors from North, West, and East African cuisine, Latin America and Spain, and Asian countries to influence kids' meals. Turmeric, ginger, and Asian spices (particularly Korean and Filipino flavors) are showing up on children's menus.

6. Hyper-local food sources

Chefs are going as far as using plant-based foods that come right from the restaurant's own gardens. When that's not possible, they rely on local farmers' markets and other hyper-local food sources so that the farm-to-table connection is absolutely transparent to today's consumer.

7. New cuts of meat 

New cuts of meat such as shoulder tender, Merlot cut, or oyster-cut steak made the top trending spot for the last two years according to the NRA. These once "secret" cuts are now becoming more common, although the NRA notes that they are starting to drop in popularity this year as plant-based dishes continue to be on the rise.

8. Vegetable-centered dishes

In 2019, chefs don't believe that you have to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy a good rice and bean dish made with an exquisite mixture of spices and visually appealing fresh vegetables. After trying some of these attractive and tasty vegetable-centric meals, many meat-eating customers will think about eating vegetarian at least a couple of times a week.

9. Fast-casual concepts

Fast-food chains are consulting some of the country's most renown chefs to come up with their hallmark non-meat feature. Burger King's Impossible Burger is one key example. In these carefully crafted dishes, you'll find global spices combined with plant-based foods in the form of veg burgers and salads, or meats prepared in innovative ways.

10. Craft beers, artisan, and locally produced spirits

Craft and artisan alcoholic beverages that are produced locally have been the rage for some time, and continue to be popular in 2019. Chefs frequently have their own favorites, if not their own special house brew.

These are just a few of the new innovations which chefs are making available throughout the food service industry. For more information on what to look for in current chef-focused trends, as well as how to implement them in your foodservice operation, please schedule some time with a Lakeside representative.

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One Key Factor to Successful College Dining Programs

To understand what makes a college and university dining program successful, we should probably take a quick visit to a college campus.

Specifically, let's go to Princeton University, where two psychologists conducted an experiment with the students in the seminary school. Essentially, they were trying to determine what motivates people, what are the driving forces behind our actions, and why we choose one option over another.

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4 Foodservice Equipment Options to Enhance College Foodservice

College and university campuses are big places that require a whole range of different foodservice options.

From students who are on-to-go and short on time to alumni functions that can be so important to fundraising, the ability to provide foodservice to a variety of people in a number of diverse ways can help a college or university stand out. Service isn't always easy, though, and sometimes requires some innovative service solutions.

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Rethinking Counter Space in College Foodservice Dining

Are you maximizing the point-of-sale potential in your college and university dining facilities?

The is the question all foodservice directors should consider, as the point-of-sale is the ideal place to help drive impulse purchases and drive sales. But how? Whether it's a serving line or a pop-up location created to attract those students who don't have a lot of time on their way across campus, there are a few important things to consider when optimizing the point-of-sale.

START WITH APPEARANCE.

Appearances matter. Though the flavor is ultimately the most important factor, it's hard to impress students with flavor unless they're selecting your foods in the first place. The easiest way to do this is to remember we first eat with our eyes.

When you spruce up your countertop and serving lines with décor, seasonal ambiance, or attractive displays, students will be more apt to buy. Try to highlight concepts like freshness and cleanliness.  Use items that are interesting and texturally different, or props with enhanced, current styles that they can identify with.

Lighting can play a big role, as well. When you use high-quality lights like LED overhead lighting, food colors will look sharper when compared to lighting that is muted and dull. Lighting showcases your product and makes it appetizing. And remember, we live in a world of #instafood. Amongst today's demographics, this isn't just reserved for fine dining.

USE SIGNS.

Signs can serve multiple purposes. First and foremost, they provide direction. Where does the line begin? Where do I pay? What are they serving in this kiosk? These are all basic questions that students ask, and with signs, they can be answered from across the room allowing students to focus on the real decisions -- menu selection -- once they're in closer proximity.

Signs also create ambiance, tone and style. More and more, college and university dining is going away from the stereotypical serving line. Where are the trends heading? Food courts, food halls, and anything that helps make a location look like an off-campus restaurant. That's what signs can help achieve.

SAVE SPACE FOR MERCHANDISING.

Lastly, don't forget about the power of merchandising on your countertops and pop-up, kiosk-type spaces. Think about how foods are arranged. Make sure they're organized and not overcrowded, but still maintaining the appearance of abundance that's so important in food displays. The neater and more organized, the easier it will be for time-strapped students to find what they're looking for, and even not what they're looking for. In other words, go for the impulse sale.

When it comes to merchandising, don't forget the beverages, either. Beverage displays or dispensers can lead to add-on purchases, or they can be the reason for the visit in the first place. Either way, beverages are an important part of the overall merchandising strategy.

Are you looking for more information on how to maximize the potential of your college and university pop-up dining spaces? Lakeside can provide great insight into some other things to consider, as well as some equipment options that can help put them in action.

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Check out the Lakeside college and university foodservice guide...