Food trends and recipes to keep menus fresh


Almonds are a smashing success

What does a flavorful and versatile nut have to do with the cuisine of the moment? Plenty, when it uses the “smashing” technique.



Moonshine has stepped into the light as a darling ingredient of mixologists south—and north—of the Mason-Dixon. Even the big chains have dared to dip into the hooch, with Joe’s Crab Shack introducing three moonshine cocktails to its restaurant menu for fall.

You might have guessed it but Technomic research confirms the trend: Sandwiches are the most menued entrée items across all segments and cuisine types. From 2010 through September, 2012, sandwiches beat out the next popular items, main salads and pizza, by a large margin.

Tucked amid the horse farms of Kentucky is Josh Moore’s modest 10-acre spread that he cultivates for his Louisville restaurant, Volare. “Everyone tries to be farm-to-table today, but for me, it’s my farm to my table,” says the chef-owner. “We go from seed or seedling to plate.”

The big trend in soft drinks is do it-yourself—an offshoot of prolific mixology programs. With a spritz of seltzer, housemade infusions and syrups do double duty in sodas as well as cocktails, commanding a markup. Even Starbucks is testing artisan sodas as the coffee giant tries to diversify its beverage offerings.

Making a quick batch of kimchi from seasonal vegetables is a daily task in the kitchens of Urban Belly, bellyQ and Belly Shack, chef-owner Bill Kim’s trio of Asian-inspired eateries in Chicago.

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.

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.

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