While chefs like to be innovative, they also need to know what will appeal to their existing customers and attract new ones.
Being aware of the latest and upcoming trends helps with creating new menus and advising food procurers of what is needed to make dishes that entice today’s diners. Here are five eating trends we’ll see over the next 18 months…
Carbs are back
The trend in recent years for creating carb-free dishes appears to be over, so dishes accompanied by bread or pasta are likely to prove increasingly popular. With countless different kinds of pasta and artisanal bread now widely available, there is plenty of scope for the creation of unique dishes.
Vegetarian and vegan
Today’s diners are more aware than ever before about the origins of the food they eat, sustainability and the impact that food has on the body. This is fuelling demand for healthy, ethical food where vegetables are central.
Local seasonal produce is likely to continue to be popular, but diners are always ready for something new. Unusual variations of fruit and vegetables can be used to create exciting menus that will appeal to all diners, not just vegetarian and vegans, and cuisines from around the world can provide plenty of inspiration.
Increased awareness of the effect of foods on the gut will also influence the new trends; probiotics, digestive enzymes and fermented foods will appeal to health-savvy diners.
Health and the tightening of drink-drive laws means an alcoholic beverage is no longer considered an essential accompaniment to a meal. Drinks menus will reflect this with a wide variety of soft drinks and ‘mocktails’ that put the emphasis on being expertly made from high-quality ingredients with the aim of echoing the depth and complexity of alcoholic drinks. For those continuing to drink alcohol, the emphasis will be on quality as the craft beer trend expands into spirits.
Cook it yourself
Today’s diners are increasingly interested in how what they eat is made. Providing information on the origins of food on menus, and allowing diners to see the chefs at work draws them into the whole process of their meal’s creation.
The availability of professional cooking equipment and the popularity of TV cookery shows are making cooking quality dishes for yourself a trend. Expect to see an increase in food clubs and cookery kits, where fresh ingredients and accompanying recipes are delivered directly to consumers’ doors. This enables them to recreate dishes they have previously only been able to sample in restaurants.
Food prices are rising, causing a dilemma for restaurateurs who want to create affordable menus without compromising on quality. Dining is likely to become a more casual experience as customers prefer to spend their money on food rather than fancy surroundings. The use of good-quality, cheaper ingredients such as pulses can help keep the prices down.
Increased awareness of health and food sources, combined with the demand for exciting new food is driving many of these trends. Food procurement and margin improvement management specialists PSL will continue to work closely with suppliers to fulfil this demand. The challenge for chefs and restaurateurs is to create menus that meet it.