RESTAURANT & HOTEL FOOD TRENDS FOR 2011
Courtesy of Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman
Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co. are creators of high-profile restaurants around the world...
Their predictions follow:
#1 Old Italian is Newly Respectable: All those old Italian chestnuts, from meatballs to all-you-can-eat spaghetti nights are getting new focus. Fancy sandwich shops and Artisan pizza boutiques are spreading everywhere, many adding mozzarella bars to their menus, making the stuff in-house and serving it still warm.
#2 Good News at the Top: Business will return to upscale restaurants, especially contemporary ones. Average spend may not rebound fully, and lunches will still be weak, but at least seats will be filled at dinner – and not necessarily with coupon-bearing bargain hunters who are something of a plague among recession-battered mid-priced casual restaurants.
#3 Stealth Competitors Creeping Up: Drug stores and convenience stores are ramping up their food departments with newly conceived fresh “grab-and-go” departments. These stores are already loading up their front-of-store reach-in refrigerators with packaged salads, sandwiches and sweets.
#4 Bricks-and-Mortar vs. Meals-on-Wheels: Food trucks, trawling for customers across the country, are driving restaurant owners nuts. They have big competitive advantages: low investment, no rent, no air conditioning, no utilities hookups, no real estate taxes, no dining rooms or waitstaff, no reservationists… and marketing costs reduced to Twitter and an iPhone. Look for more restaurant operators and big-name chefs to supplement their businesses by chasing after customers with their own trucks.
#5 Korean Food and the Nothing-Is-Sacred Taco: This will lend legitimacy to Korean flavors, and bulgogi, bibimbap and kimchee will enter our gastronomic lexicon. But the wrapper will become more important than its contents: Look for an outburst of outrageously creative multi-culti tacos, soft and hard, from fast food to haute cuisine.
#6 Popsicles going global and artisan -- and what it means: These niche items are becoming trendy. Gourmet ice pops are popping up filled with all sorts of exotica – mostly small batch products riding the wave of “fresh” and “locally made.” Keep an eye out for ingredient combos like these in new wave cocktails, house-made sodas (another small trend), house-made salad dressings, …etc
#7 Making Customers Unwelcome: Economically gun-shy consumers increasingly will face an unwelcome mat rolled out by restaurateurs trying to save a buck here and there. Look for more restaurants putting no credit card signs in their windows; eliminating reservations; upping the price of wines-by- the-glass while these wines appear nowhere on the list; no tablecloths; trying to ration the time people can occupy a table.
#8 How Does Your Garden Grow?: Increasing numbers of people will pay $2 for a holy tomato at burgeoning farmers markets, or a buck for an organic egg; and upscale hotel chefs will tend heirloom vegetable gardens and beehives on their rooftops to feed their fancy clientele. Watch out for restaurant “snacks” to swell up, people buying multiple snacks during the day will actually skip a traditional meal, knocking their nutritional intake seriously off- kilter.
#9 Breakfast All the Time: Morning food business grew fast when the economy went to hell; and then leveled off. But so many chains will jump into the business that we predict excess serving capacity before 2011 is over. At the other end of the price spectrum, soft slow-cooked eggs are appearing all over upscale restaurant menus. Runny eggs on pasta, on pizza, on braised meats, on truffled toast as stand-alone first courses; breaded and fried poached eggs on salads...
#10 Grits will leap from morning food to an all-purpose starch – part of another trendlet: down-home southern cooking. Shrimp and grits could well be the dish-of-the-year .
#11 “Free From”: Gluten-free menus will grow this coming year , but allergy sufferers aren’t the issue: Consumers are increasingly convinced that anything added to food is objectionable – and phrases like gluten- and lactose- free somehow sound healthful and reassuring, and perhaps organic – even though this is irrational.
#12 Wife Swapping … but with Restaurants: Kitchen swapping. Big name chefs will trade kitchens for a night or two which keeps life lively for diners as well as chefs. Some chefs now have permanent one-night stands, taking over humble dives or diners once every week. Often with only one or two dozen seats, snagging a place at these popups will become something of a status symbol and a culinary adventure.
#13 A Sandwich By Any Other Name: Last year it was gussied up hot dogs and gourmet hamburgers. This year it’ll be sandwiches over the moon but they’ll be called something else. Tartines have grown from a slice of bread with a simple spread to fancy open-face sandwiches with $15 price tags. Seeing success with far-out ingredients, several big-name chefs are toying with their own very upscale sandwich shops.
#14 Past Their Sell-By Date: Artisan hot dogs with inventive toppings will be on the downslide. Gourmet hamburgers will peak; too many players in a crowded field. Slapping bacon onto everything will be so-last-year. The novelty of increasingly expensive pork belly will wear off. Cupcakes will peak.
#15 Going Collaborative: Conventional reservations and marketing programs will be bypassed – so will old-media critics without new platforms –. Location-based “here’s-where-I am” sites are grabbing hold of what used to be restaurant-generated promotions. This could create irresistible pressure on restaurateurs who haven’t got their own mass to push back.
BUZZWORDS FOR 2011: Coconut water, awash in a mythology of good health; bourbon, for people who actually like booze; cucumbers, lavender and hibiscus, especially in cocktails; upscale food courts; umami along with stealth use of miso; sangria with new twists; peppadew; fancy poutine, a Canadian calorie bomb, could have a US trend life of a year; macarons, not macaroons; whoopee pie; Korean spicing and condiments; pesto variations; newfangled machines vending fresh fruit and vegetables; designer donuts imitating froufrou cupcakes; meatballs; burrata; tacos with global and wacky fillings; convenience store cuisine; artisan ice pops; “free from” food labels; popup restaurants; fregola, a pasta from Sardinia; Greek yogurt; ever-larger “snacks” and multiple snacks replacing meals; meatless Mondays; reinvented grits and down-home Southern cooking; and isn’t anyone tired yet of black kale?
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