Edit

Food

Food trends and recipes to keep menus fresh

Food

How Wildfire does gluten free

The annual “What’s Hot” survey of 1,800 chefs by the National Restaurant Association pegged gluten-free/food allergy-conscious items as No. 7 on the top 10 trends list this year. That’s up a notch from its 2011 position.

Food

A nation of nibblers

More and more Americans are patronizing restaurants differently these days, opting to make a meal of shareable appetizers, small plates, inventive bar food or coffee and a snack. According to Chicago-based market research company Technomic, only 5 percent of consumers are now eating three square meals a day.

Burger King will likely be slammed tomorrow with customers looking for a free sample of the chain’s new thicker-cut, lower-sodium French fry. The one-time...

Now that local produce is done for the season or in storage in many parts of the country, there are still tasty late fall and winter selections that can excite a chef and add color, flavor and creativity to the menu. Consider grapes, for instance.

Fresh, accessible takes on Asian ingredients and cooking techniques. Inviting, contemporary décor. Friendly, English-speaking service. Westernized trappings like wine and beer, specialty cocktails and desserts that aren’t made of red beans.

Pollo Campero, the Guatemalan fried-chicken chain, is Americanizing its menu with the addition of such familiar choices as tacos, empanadas and panini.

Everyone is on the restaurant industry’s back to improve kids’ menus. The White House, USDA, commodity boards, parents, nutrition advocacy groups, the medical community and more are pushing for healthier menu options.

Tomato lovers may start getting gloomy as summer draws to a close, but there are still plenty of reasons to rejoice. Local red, yellow, orange, purple and striped beauties are at their peak well into September and even October, depending on locale. And restaurants are going beyond salads and BLTs to make the most of them.

The introduction a few weeks ago of Burger King’s mini-sandwiches was relatively low-key, perhaps a reflection of the limited-time options not being completely new.

Food trucks fill the streets and parking lots of New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Austin and Portland, Ore. Los Angeles alone counts 9,000 food trucks and carts, including branded vehicles from California Pizza Kitchen and Carl’s Jr. Yet when Ray Villaman, moderator of a trucks panel at the Restaurant Leadership Conference, asked who in the audience has or plans to launch a food truck, only a few hands were raised.