Menu trends from day two of MenuDirections

Blending, sodium alternatives and global influences are highlighted at FoodService Director’s 12th annual conference.

Published in FSD Update

By 
Peter Romeo, Director of Digital Content

Gordon Food Service Corporate Consulting Chef Gerry Ludwig cited several menu currents during his MenuDirections keynote address that didn’t fit within the four pronounced trends he detected during a recent three-city, 92-restaurant dining binge. For instance, he noted, kohlrabi is gaining widespread use in restaurants the way Brussels sprouts did a few years ago. “We saw 18 examples at the 92 restaurants,” he noted.

Similarly, other speakers cited a number of trends in passing. Here’s a quick sampling:

  • Rising meat costs are prompting operators to use more plant-based ingredients as alternatives. The most common replacements are soy, tempeh, tofu, beans and legumes, seitan, quinoa and Greek yogurt.
  • Chefs striving to cut back the sodium in their dishes are using such replacements as black pepper, garlic powder, curry powder, cumin, dill seeds, basil, ginger, coriander and onion. 
  • Operators who don’t want to surprise customers with too much spice are citing what chilies they use and how much heat they pack.
  • As Mushroom Council Menu Strategist Steve Solomon put it, “The trend is to blend.” Other speakers cited such examples as combining sweet, savory and spicy components into ingredients like ginger sesame caramel.
  • Similarly, global influences are leading foodservice operators to combine the flavorings of multiple countries or regions into a seasoning of their own invention. For instance aji amarillo from Peru might be combined with masala tea from Kashmir and cassava from Brazil to form something unique.
  • Among the flavors increasingly being used in foodservice is wood sorrel.

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