Pat Cobe's Taste Tracker

Spotting and sampling trends in food and drink with Pat Cobe
Patricia Cobe
Senior Editor
CSP Business Media

Pat plans and executes several sections of Restaurant Business magazine, including food and beverage trends, Menu R&D, profiles of chefs and restaurateurs, and marketing and lifestyle features. She also contributes to the magazine’s website and is editor of the e-newsletter, Recipedia. Pat came to RB from Mr. Food’s EasyCooking, a Hearst publication, where she was Executive Editor. Prior to that, she contributed to Ladies’ Home Journal, Women’s Day, Good Housekeeping and other consumer magazines.

Pat is the co-author of the Mompreneurs series of books as well as two cookbooks. She graduated from Cornell University and earned a Masters in Journalism from Boston University. She is currently on the Board of IFEC (International Foodservice Editorial Council). Previously, she served on the James Beard Journalism Committee and was on the Board of Les Dames d’Escoffier New York.

With over 2,000 exhibits and dozens of educational sessions, the National Restaurant Association Show is a breeding ground for emerging trends and ideas. Four days of sampling, listening and observing at this year’s event, which ended on Tuesday, brought these 10 menu-related possibilities—in no particular order—to mind. 1. Jerky from land and sea. Vendors offered jerky made of bison, boar, turkey and other nontraditional meats. But one of the most unique foods I tasted was trout jerky. It can...
Brits like to sit. That was my big takeaway when I met with Peter Backman this week during the National Restaurant Association Show, which ended Tuesday. Backman is managing director of Horizons, a British foodservice research company, and each year we take time out of walking the show floor and attending educational sessions to compare notes on restaurant trends in the U.S. and U.K. This year as last, one of my updates included the continuing growth of fast-casual restaurants—Technomic reports...
The bar scene has gotten as competitive as the restaurant business, thanks to today’s cocktail culture, craft beer explosion, extensive wine-by-the-glass programs and upgrades in ambience, food and service. In fact, it’s often hard to tell if a place is a restaurant with a bar or a bar that’s a dining destination. And sometimes, the operators are trying to figure it out themselves. Recently, I was with a friend at a new Chicago uber-bar called The Betty. Chicago Magazine billed it as a bar, and...
taste rome final dish
I always wondered how and why chefs choose a dish for a grand taste-around event—and how they pull it off at a venue that’s nowhere near their restaurant kitchen. On Monday afternoon, I got to see the process up-close-and-personal, as I observed Chef David Posey, representing the Waldorf Astoria, prep for the 25th annual James Beard Foundation Awards festivities taking place that night at Chicago’s Lyric Opera House. Approximately 1,500 attendees would be descending on the chefs’ tables after a...
Nobody wants them in their food, but half of consumers don’t even know why or what they are. According to a recent survey by research company The NPD Group, over half of consumers are concerned about GMOs, but when asked to define them, many are unclear. Consumers provided definitions such as “not natural,” “genetically altered” or “don’t know” in response to NPD’s request for a definition. While the number of consumers who are “very concerned” about GMOs has risen from 10 percent in 2002 to 20...
A restaurant’s no-reservations policy can turn the most amiable hostess into a tyrant and the most laid-back guest into a monster—fueled by hunger and impatience. I’ve been that customer. I put my name on many wait lists of hot new restaurants that only take reservations for parties of six or more. I’m told a table will be ready in 30 minutes or even 45, but an hour passes and I’m still waiting, increasingly agitated as I inch closer to the host stand for the third time. It’s even worse when...
On my way to work each morning, I buy a cup of coffee for the train. Starbucks is right on my corner, so it’s my go-to choice. (And I finally got the app to recognize my credit card, which was a complicated process that had to be done on the Web instead of my iPhone. My tech ability was not to blame, so don’t go there!) Anyway, I’m always in a hurry and all I want is a Tall Dark Roast but there are at least six people in front of me ordering Venti Soy Lattes with an extra espresso shot or...
The end of the calendar year was once the only stretch when “best of” lists would clog our email inboxes. Now these pronouncements seem to come more frequently, with the spring season—and its assorted awards nominations—emerging as a prime time. In the past couple of weeks, the James Beard Foundation, OpenTable, Food & Wine magazine and Elite Traveler magazine all released best-chef or best-restaurant picks—some chosen by the dining public, others by the professional community. It’s a given...

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