MenuDirections attendees tour restaurant trends

Keynote speaker Gerry Ludwig shares his four culinary trends.

Published in FSD Update

By 
Peter Romeo, Director of Digital Content

Keynoter Gerry Ludwig took attendees of MenuDirections on a virtual culinary tour Monday, recounting the new directions he spotted while visiting 92 trend-shaping restaurants in three cities during a stretch of 17 business days.

His sampling of 1,131 dishes a few weeks before the conference prompted the Gordon Food Service corporate consulting chef to advise the audience of non-commercial operators to consider four trends rapidly unfolding within the commercial sector:

Meatless sandwiches. “I was surprised by the number of restaurants that were serving wonderful, complexly layered meatless sandwiches,” he told a packed ballroom. He cited such examples as a spicy beet sandwich he was served at a New York City hotspot called Dime.

He noted that several of the vegetarian sandwiches he sampled were flavored with strongly flavored cheese, which he characterized as “barnyard-y” because of their rich aroma.

Quinoa as the main attraction. The ancient grain is hardly unfamiliar to the non-commercial market, but “it has reached ubiquity in commercial foodservice,” Ludwig remarked.

He cited the example of Protein Bar, a 19-unit chain concentrated in the Midwest. Among its signatures is a quinoa-based burrito, or what it calls a Bar-rito. “They really caught lightning in a bottle,” he said.

Ludwig noted how he’d seen multiple instances of quinoa transformed into pancakes, meatless burgers and a hot cereal option. “Quinoa oatmeal has tons of opportunities,” he said. “It has much more flavor than oat-based oatmeal.”

He cited an instance where a sandwich bun rather than what was inside the bread had been made from quinoa.

“Having it all and living well.” A new generation of restaurants is proving that healthful dining doesn’t have to come at the expense of flavor, consistency or high culinary art. He cited the example of LYFE Kitchen, which offers flavorful, carefully crafted menu items through a variety of menus. An “E” model is intended for customers who eat everything. A “V” is intended for vegetarians, a “GF” for gluten free and a “BW” for beer and wine drinkers.

Over-the-top indulgence. “Every once in awhile, you need to do this in your units, what we call ‘ingenious indulgence,’” Ludwig advised. He did not provide an exact definition of the term, but cited the illustration of Donut Fiend in New York City. The off-beat shop specializes in doughnuts, both sweet and savory, that are cut in half and garnished with everything from jellies and other smears to more conventional sandwich ingredients.

Ludwig said the two dishes he enjoyed the most on his annual 1,000-plus-meal dining tour were a breakfast pudding bowl made with puréed almond milk and banana, studded with “a lot” of chia seeds; and an acai bowl, made with an acai berry purée that was stored in a freezer not cold enough to chill it into a solid. The pudding-like purée was spooned into a bowl and topped with fresh herbs and complements, providing visual appeal along with standout nutrition.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
desserts plate

We’re knocking down a wall in our bar area, which will create a more inviting atmosphere and allow us to host a coffee and dessert bar in the space on off nights when the bar is closed.

Industry News & Opinion
nacufs award

Ohio University Director of Culinary Services Rich Neumann was on Wednesday evening awarded NACUFS’ 49th annual Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.

Neumann’s foodservice career began as an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. After his first day as a student cook, he says, his production manager wanted to fire him because he was striving for perfection, not—as she put it—“now and fast.” But he kept with it, eventually moving up to student manager. “If I had quit, I would not be here today,” he says.

During...

Sponsored Content
iced coffee foodservice

From International Delight ® Iced Coffee and STOK ® Cold Brew.

As temperatures soar, consumers look for any way they can to cool down. Much of the time, that means sipping on a cold beverage. And for the many patrons looking for a pick-me-up, iced coffee is a go-to choice, as it wakes them up and cools them down.

It’s no surprise, then, that iced coffee is a growing opportunity for operators. In Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report, 59% of consumers say they ordered iced coffee at least once in the past month from foodservice locations. With demand continuing to...

Industry News & Opinion

Oxnard Union High School District in Oxnard, Calif., is ending its meatless Mondays initiative due to cost and a lack of participation, the Camarillo Acorn reports.

Meatless Monday , which was offered on Fridays during the most recent school year, was the least popular lunch day during the week, according to school officials. The district hopes that the menu change will encourage more students to purchase school meals and help eliminate the $2 million deficit in its nutrition budget.

While 61% of students in the district qualify for free meals, only around half eat at the...

FSD Resources