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Food

Food trends and recipes to keep menus fresh

Food

Sweet Globalization

Globalization, plus the increase in consumer interest in food and a nagging sweet tooth, have pushed the desire for bolder and more diverse flavors beyond center-of-plate.

Food

Think Different

It’s been done with hamburgers, with cocktails, with Mexican QSR. Take a familiar concept, one with a degree of built-in familiarity and consumer acceptance, and differentiate it—around the ingredients, the menu, the presentation, the service model. Make it unique and craveable, make it stand out from the competition; just don’t make it so strange that customers don’t know what to make of it.

We sat down with Hubert Keller during the 2013 Restaurant Leadership Conference to find out how he differentiates his restaurant and his burgers.

It may be hard to outdo Chicago’s Boarding House restaurant for a nontraditional use of glassware—9,063 wine glasses are suspended from the ceiling as part of a shimmering light fixture. While that may be a bit “over the top,” many restaurants are using glassware for other things besides beverages.

It wasn’t that long ago that Americans were still pronouncing the final T in Cabernet and didn’t realize it was the major grape in Left Bank Bordeaux. Well, maybe they still don’t know a lot about Bordeaux but they can order a Cab (and Merlot) without stumbling. The chart below offers help on other tongue-twisting varietals.

August is a happy month in Minnesota, especially if “local and seasonal” is your mantra. “We have a short but very vigorous growing season, and August is when it peaks,” says Paul Lynch, chef at FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar at the Radisson Blu, Mall of America in Minneapolis.

Rice and noodles have been the go-to carbs on P.F. Chang’s menu for 20 years. But this summer, creative culinary chef Yuji Iwasa is shaking things up a bit at the 240-unit Asian-inspired chain. He’s exploring other ingredients and expanding the pantry.

Quenching Americans’ thirst has become a hotbed of menu development. It’s no longer enough to offer plain iced tea, branded carbonated soft drinks and sparkling water. Customers expect flavor innovation, variety and often health benefits as they sip. The same holds true with alcoholic drinks, where freshness and seasonality are a priority.

Choosing small plates offers diners the opportunity to try a variety of menu items and flavors—which, according to a recent report by Technomic, is what 70% of consumers are looking for in shareable dining.

How do restaurant customers define value? While "quality for the price" tops the list, fresh ingredients and a variety of choices are close behind, according to a recent NPD report entitled Defining Value: Where Consumers Choose to Eat Out. The report identifies five segments of diners, the largest of which are not driven by low pricing and deals.