3 restaurant trends to consider for 2016

Published in FSD Update

ponce city market food

A new year is a good time to experiment with menu items and operational ideas. For inspiration, foodservice directors may want to take a look at a few hot trends on the restaurant side that could work in noncommercial settings.

1. Haute porridge

The continuing interest in whole grains and ancient grains has spawned a rise in porridge on menus. The trend is showing up in sweet and savory breakfast bowls, such as Organic Brown Rice Pudding at Le Pain Quotidien and Heirloom Grain Porridge with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, pine nuts and poached eggs at Little Park in New York City.

But porridge is not being limited to the morning meal. Congee, the Asian rice porridge, is getting topped with pork belly, duck or sea scallops at progressive Asian restaurants, including Mission Chinese in New York and Kraken Congee in Seattle. Other cuisines also can adapt to savory porridge applications. Grains such as polenta, black rice, bulgur and millet can be cooked into a porridge-like consistency and topped with unexpected ingredients—an inexpensive and often gluten-free addition to a breakfast bar or vegan station.

2. Mini sandwiches for catering

Cocktail-size versions of sandwiches are a way to extend sandwich occasions beyond breakfast and lunch to parties and other social occasions. Mendocino Farms, a California-based regional chain, created a mini-sandwich menu as a way to compete with supermarket catering programs, and it has added about 5 percent to its total catering sales. Mini rolls can be baked in-house or purchased and the fillings can run from classic to inventive, with condiments and garnishes to match.

3. Meatballs keep rolling on

The humble meatball is showing up on menus in every segment and for every course. Chefs are rolling up beef, lamb, duck, chicken, pork, veal and combinations of these ground meats into meatballs ranging from olive-size to softball-size. And they are pushing them out of their traditionally comfortable spot on top of pasta to become shareable appetizers, soup ingredients, sliders and more. Meatballs essentially are peasant food, and as such, are an economical way to stretch pricey meat with breadcrumbs, eggs and liquid to create a satisfying and boldly flavored menu item.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
ISR

The Illinois Street Residence Hall (ISR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has come a long way since the start of the summer. What was just a hole in the ground now looks like an actual building. Its steel structure is up, and workers have constructed exterior temporary walls to allow them to begin tackling the interior.

“Now, it’s really about pulling all the electrical and all the plumbing. All of those things are becoming realistic for us,” says Director of University Housing Alma Sealine. “We actually won’t have walls up on the interior for a while, but that’s...

Menu Development
Culinary Trends

Fresh, made-from-scratch menu items are table stakes for restaurants these days—they’re what customers expect from fast casuals on up. So how can operators meet that expectation when labor costs keep rising and the labor pool keeps getting smaller? The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 30 years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and industry competition for skilled cooks is at an all-time high.

Simplifying the menu is one solution, finds Donna Lee, founder of Brown Bag Seafood Co., a fast casual with four units in Chicago. But simplifying doesn’t necessarily...

Menu Development
Shawerma

Grab-and-go options are growing in every operation, but customers are looking for choices that go beyond the same-old sandwiches, salads and packaged snacks. In fact, 29% of consumers overall and 40% of those in the 18-34 age group are looking for ethnic items specifically described as street foods, according to Technomic’s Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite . Not only are street foods a staple in many Asian, Latin and Mediterranean countries, they are typically portable and ready to grab-and-go .

Simplifying shawerma

“It’s important that fans...

Industry News & Opinion

Hawaii public schools are serving locally sourced sweet potato pie in celebration of Thanksgiving and their harvest of the month program.

The menu item is being served this month at over 200 schools throughout the state and will use local Okinawan sweet potatoes . This is the first time the Hawaii-grown sweet potatoes will be served in the cafeterias.

The recipe for the dish was created by one of the district’s cafeteria managers and her staff.

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code