Benchmark Hospitality International executive chefs and culinary experts at the company’s 40 luxury hotels, resorts and restaurants share trends in dining.
Dining Trend #1: Small Plates-Any Time!
Expo-style cooking, including show kitchens, action stations, EVO grilling and mobile kitchens. What’s hot? Slow cooked brisket, braised pork shoulder and ceviche-style seafood. Small plates, served any hour of the day or night, are satisfying demanding palates and may help save waistlines.
Dining Trend #2: Roll & Go
Bun-less creations that are rolled instead of presented as traditional sandwiches. Take a Reuben, Club, Monti Cristo and even the traditional hamburger filling and roll this in flour tortillas or those flavored with chili, spinach or blue corn. Roll and go …
Dining Trend #3: Lose the Fat-Infuse
Increased awareness over the past years of the downside of fat, as well as the emphasis on gluten free and vegan foods, has forever altered cooking styles. Instead of fat, chefs are changing to beer braising, cider poaching and quick pickling. The idea is to infuse flavor while never exposing food to fat!
Dining Trend #4: Back To The Future
A questionable economy and world strife are causing customers to crave the comfort foods of their past. Come-back items on the menu today include family favorites like meatloaf, liver & onions, shepherd’s pie and pan-fried chicken. These dishes are popping up in whiskey bars and upscale craft beerhouses. Classics like Shrimp Louie and Oysters Rockefellers are shoving Chicken Caesar and Spinach Dip off the menu.
Dining Trend #5: Grab-n-Go
Time is money and today it’s all about “now”. Grab and go dining is increasingly popular and spans from fresh exotic fruits to house-roasted Himalayan salted pumpkin seeds. Travelers are looking for healthy and convenient ways to satisfy their need to recharge, and stay on track. Grab and go favorites include wilted spinach, maple seared salmon brioche and golden jewel grained edamame guacamole.
Dining Trend #6: Curacao Cocktails
As travel and exploring the world becomes second nature to nearly everyone, when back home, travelers want to relive their experiences while away. What better way than with flights of miniature “foo foo drinks”, Irish Whiskey blends or infused martinis. A foo foo flight could include a Mai Tai, Strawberry Daiquiri and Pina Colada to bring the islands of Hawaii and the Caribbean closer to home. Entertaining guests with an Irish Whiskey Sampler brings Dublin home, while Ghirardelli chocolate martini brings San Francisco Bay to the back yard or terrace.
Dining Trend #7: Raging Ramen
Ramen is storming the world right now. Once thought to be a food for cash-starved college students, ramen is now breaking into a “low end = high end” street food scenario. Applications include stir fried sriracha chili chicken, Shanghai peanut salad or spicy deep fried.
Dining Trend #8: Tea Mixology
This is the creation of tantalizing flavors for simple teas by choosing from a variety of herbs and spices and then infusing. The use of rose hips, lavender and basil not only create an aromatic scent but also provide a soothing, calming beverage any time or day or night.
Dining Trend #9: Slow Ride, Cook It Easy
Many customers are now on the slow food band wagon at home. This has dramatically increased public interest in restaurants that practice slow food cooking methods. Consumers who appreciate and are willing to pay for slow foods are equally interested in the process used to create them. Many restaurants are showcasing these by putting the process right in the dining room, i.e. charcuterie drying, cheese caves, vinegar barrels, etc.
Dining Trend #10: Branding The Chef
Guests today want to take home a little more from their favorite eatery besides a full stomach (or … a satisfied palate). Talented chefs are creating their own signature products that they bottle and package for home use. Bottling items, like a signature Lemon curd ale BBQ or chipotle bourbon sauces straight off the chef’s house menu, are replacing traditional store-bought items in customers’ pantries. Adding distinct flavors to home favorites bring out the “wow” factor when entertaining family and friends.
Benchmark Hospitality International.
Photograph courtesy of Benchmark Hospitality International.