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Food trends and recipes to keep menus fresh


The steaks get higher

It’s going to be a tough year for steak lovers. Operators are seeing higher beef costs—and menu prices are inching up as a result. Several factors are contributing to this trend, according to research by the Beef Checkoff.


From bait to plate

This past October, during the height of the season, chef Barton Seaver, a National Geographic fellow and leading advocate for sustainable fishing practices, purchased what he thought was Maryland blue crab from one of his favorite seafood suppliers.

"There’s a certain audacity to offering Chartreuse on tap,” says Mike Ryan, head bartender at Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago, because no other bar in town offers the esoteric French liqueur on draft.

Cooking seasonally goes beyond sourcing fruits, vegetables and other ingredients that are at their peak. After all, for the next few months, local fields may be barren and fresh produce scarce in a large part of the country.

Chefs strut their creativity with small plates, playing up lighter ingredients and global flavors.

With meatless items among the top 10 center-of-the-plate trends for 2014, according to the National Restaurant Association, even operators who might not have done meatless are making room on the menu.

Steak performs well for Cousins Subs, because core customers see it as a point of differentiation for a sandwich QSR, says Justin McCoy, VP of marketing at the 122-unit chain based in Menamonee Falls, Wis. So in the last quarter of 2014, R&D developed a cheesesteak that layers a more generous portion of steak with premium ingredients.

When hunger hits, being on the exhibit floor at the NRA Show is not the worst place to be. The sprawl is packed with places to grab food samples. One Restaurant Business editor set out to find booths serving the most generous portions.

Meaning “sausage kitchen” in German, fast-casual Wurstküche serves a variety of encased meats and imported German brews to customers in Denver and L.A.

Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill messed with a good thing when it reformatted its top-selling Wild Salmon Lite Burrito, and placed its bets on a bowl.

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