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Patricia Cobe

Senior Editor

Articles by
Patricia Cobe

Page 111

DIY networking

As a principal in Vetri Family Restaurants in Philadelphia, his partner, chef Marc Vetri often got out from behind the stove to attend culinary events.


Top 10 beverage trends

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.

Salted caramel has been a popular flavor duo on restaurant menus for the past couple of years, but judging from the products offered at the 2013 Summer Fancy Food Show, held at the beginning of July in New York City, caramel and salt—both on their own and together—are exploding in the retail specialty food sector. In my never-ending quest to taste, sip and spot trends, I zoomed through the 2400 exhibitors at the Javits Convention Center, sampling and making some observations—albeit under the influence of a food coma. Here’s what stood out.

Here are some of the ideas, trends and smart strategies we heard that could help all foodservice operators, regardless of their channel.

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.

Industry leaders gathered at a first-of-its-kind conference this week to draft a plan for turning healthful, sustainable food into more of a sales and profit generator for the foodservice industry.

Restaurateurs who view the business as a battlefield might’ve uttered an “amen” at the end of the presentation from retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who wound up this year’s conference with an analysis of leadership during wartime.

Kids’ menus are proliferating, and many chains have started programs expressly to address childhood obesity. But it’s not clear how much of an impact they might have on the one-third of American children who are overweight, according to speakers who shared new insights during the RLC on promoting childhood health.

Lots of new products were introduced on the exhibit floor of the NRA Show last week. A few stood out during my travels from booth to booth, and I also came across some cool things outside of McCormick Place:

Is “better pizza” following in the footsteps of “better burgers” as the next fast-casual star? Some industry veterans are betting on it, including...

In 2007, John Kregel, a pig farmer in Garnerville, Iowa, built group housing—also known as large pens—to accommodate 3,000 of his 9,000 sows; the other 6,000 remain in gestation stalls. He feels the stalls are better for the pigs in winter but his sows are adapting well to the pens.

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.

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