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Coming Food Trends for 2018

Every year seems to bring new foods into the spotlight, whether for the health benefits they tout or for the novelty of tastes and textures from other continents and cultures. 2018 has already started to show what customers are interested in, and the good news is that some basic restaurant equipment allows anyone who might want to incorporate some of these big ideas into the menu - and for an efficient price. With some key restaurant supplies and know-how, you can make the most of the trends. 

More plant-based foods

While 2017 saw ramen noodles and poke bowls taking over the foodie crowd’s taste buds, 2018 restaurant-goers are already showing a heightened appreciation for plant-based dishes. Not necessarily vegetarian or vegan, after years of meat and seafood taking the spotlight, more restaurant-goers are interested in the possibilities that produce has to offer. An intersection within this trend is the growing popularity of blended soups packed with carefully-selected vegetables, along with composed dishes that incorporate and highlight plant-based proteins.

The running joke about Millennials’ obsession with avocado has some merit to it; more and more, as adults of all demographics seek out healthier food options even in their restaurant dining experiences, dishes with a focus on seasonal, well-sourced vegetables are gaining in popularity. Nutrition experts have already gotten the word out that not only are many people not getting the vitamins and minerals they need, but also diets heavy in meat aren’t necessary to get the proteins a person needs for day-to-day life. Increasingly, that means that beans, avocados, quinoa, and other healthy, plant-focused foods are what customers are looking for.

To capitalize on this trend, consider adding a few seasonal, blended soups to the menu--they’re easy to make with restaurant equipment you already have like blenders and food processors and steamers to properly prep the ingredients. The brilliant thing about this tactic as well is that it’s cost-effective: you can plan to keep a few soups on-menu when the ingredients are at the peak of flavor, and with almost no added effort keep patrons excited and coming in to see what the next series will be.

Non-traditional cuts and breeds of meat

While plant-based foods are taking on huge mainstream popularity, another trend rising for customers is non-traditional cuts of meat. While standbys like filet are never going to completely go away, customers are becoming more and more interested in non-traditional cuts like shoulder tender, Merlot cut, and oyster steak, according to the National Restaurant Association. A major benefit of this is that many of the cuts starting to gain traction in the consumer consciousness is that they are--in many cases--ones that used to be considered “off” cuts, so they can be more cost effective from a budget standpoint.

In addition to the new “hot” cuts, restaurant-goers are interested in heritage breeds and non-commercial livestock, along with sustainably-sourced meats. Heritage breeds are cows and other livestock who don’t have the kinds of characteristics that big-time producers look for: rapid growth, heavier frames, and so on. But they have other characteristics that make them interesting: slower growth leads to more flavorful meat, and while heritage breeds may not produce as much offspring, they have unique characteristics well worth preserving--and for carnivores, well worth eating.

Incorporate this trend into your menu by looking for local producers raising niche breeds for meat, and by asking your butcher for unusual cuts, and discussing with chefs how to maximize the potential of those cuts and proteins to come up with one or two great dishes to add to the menu.

Unique ethnic foods are rising in popularity

While Hawaiian and Japanese foods were super popular in 2017, the key flavors for 2018 are coming more from Peru and the Philippines. Three restaurants in Peru have landed onto the annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and with good reason: while Peruvian cuisine has been a dark horse in the fine dining world, the flavors are intoxicating: a mix of South American ingredients, indigenous and European cross-pollination, and even Chinese influences makes for a cuisine that is intricate and interesting.

Filipino cuisine is also starting to make inroads on cultural consciousness around the world and especially in the US, with its fusion of Pacific, Spanish, and east Asian influences. Not only are Filipino takes on dishes like tacos and burritos becoming popular, but ingredients from the Philippines like ube--a purple yam native to the islands--are finding their way into all kinds of finished dishes.

Think about incorporating some Peruvian flavors or Filipino ingredients into your menus, or maybe working with other restaurants that specialize in those flavors to cross-promote and host events together, depending on your neighborhood and what you have going on.

While it is of course important to have some solid, foundational basics that your restaurant keeps going at all times, by knowing some important food trends you can stay on the cutting edge of consumer interest--and draw new faces into your dining room.  In even better news: most of these trends allow you to use the restaurant equipment you’ve already got.

2018-03-22 00:00:00
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