Edit

Food

Food trends and recipes to keep menus fresh

Food

The lake effect

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.

Food

Going with a new grain

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.

Operators ate their way around the 16th Annual Taste the Trends Tour, hosted by Basic American Foods, during this year’s NRA Show. Each of the six hot new restaurants on the tour presented their take on the “classic with a twist” theme with an inventive array of dishes.

These days, fussy consumers—and chefs—want local and/or seasonal fruits and vegetables on the menu, often along with the name of the farm.

Millennials continue to exert influence on the world of beverages. They like their drinks on the sweet side and they like lots of choices. Suppliers have gotten the message and responded with specialty beverages aimed at that finicky demographic.

When it came to developing a summer LTO for Little Greek, the 14-unit Tampa, Florida-based franchisor, president Nick Vojnovic thought “shrimp.” “It’s healthy, quick-cooking and few of our competitors offer shrimp,” he notes.

Nico Romo, culinary executive director of the 150-seat Fish, accommodates hot weather appetites with lighter dishes.

  • Page 126