The Latest in Food Innovation Trends

Today’s most creative restaurants keep guests coming back for more. They are always pushing the envelope or keeping the guests on their toes with food innovations.

On the IOChangeMakers live stream, we sat down with three food innovators– Jeff Drake, CEO of Protein Bar, Diana Dávila, chef and owner of Mi Tocaya Antojera and Zach Engel, executive chef and Owner of Galit to see how they are constantly keeping things exciting at their restaurants.

As Chef Dávila points out the culinary landscape is much more diverse today. The European structure is being broken down. Instead, chefs are embracing their cultural backgrounds.

"I find that in my kitchen people have to unlearn what they know about cooking in general because the European structure doesn't fit the Mexican techniques," says Dávila.

Chef Engel helms the kitchen at Galit, where the dining experience is also much different from the traditional European structure. The Middle Eastern restaurant in Chicago has two menus.

"We have the menu and on the back is what we call the other menu. The other menu is four-courses, it's not like a boujie prix fixe menu with tasting portions and all that, it's family style. This is the concept of how we want people to experience cuisine. We want you to have a giant meal with bread, hummus, Salatin, and all sorts of plates with big entrees with bold grains," says Engel.

Jeff Drake, on the other hand, is a food innovator in the fast casual segment. This sector has been disrupting the traditional culinary structure for years.

Protein Bar was a pioneer in the segment by serving unique ingredients guests couldn't get anywhere else, but now with the saturated market, the concept has had to up its game.

"When Matt the founder started Protein Bar, he was one of the first people to put quinoa on the menu. When he put quinoa on the menu 10 years ago, people didn't know what it was or how to say it.," says Drake. "Over the last 2.5 years, we have gotten back to focusing on ingredients and bringing interesting ingredients or boosts onto our menu."

Want more insights from these food innovators? Check out the video above or the full interview is also now exclusively available on Foodable On-Demand here.

These Chef Innovations are Poised to Breakout in 2019

Let's face it, restaurant customers are finicky. And we are all customers. We want trusted dishes. But we want new dishes that are interesting. We want to be entertained. But we don’t want every meal to be an adventure. We like some pieces of the menu to be thought-provoking, but don’t want to be confused and frustrated with whackadoodle inventions.

Let’s all agree that innovation has a place, albeit controlled and calculated. Innovation does not mean the latest kitchen gadget, either. Innovation is as much technique as it is the tools in your hand.

So, how can chefs stir customer interest when they want it to be stirred in 2019?

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

3-D Food Printing

Definitely not something that will ride the wave of tenacity and ubiquity, but interesting, nonetheless.

Think of 3D food printing much in the way chocolate fountains were kinda cool when they first started dribbling their goopy chocolate all over tablecloths at weddings far and near. Novel? Yes. Technology-driven? For sure. Practical? Debatable.

But there are serious chefs latching on to the technology. For example, Paco Pérez at Barcelona’s Enoteca has unleashed 3D printed dishes. The Michelin-starred chef uses printing technology in place of design work that would be nearly impossible to accomplish by hand.

Do you really need a sneaker printed out of marzipan? No. But you also don’t need a big-ass block of ice carved into the likeness of King Tritan leaking water all over the floor, holding up chilled shrimp. But we still do it.

For now, it is something to talk about it. We did the same thing with those pictures printed on rice paper and layered onto sheet cakes. Why? Because we can. And, yeah, it sells.

Plant Proteins

Tofu. Chickpeas. Almonds. Hemp seeds. At casual dining restaurants like Firebird’s, Red Robin and Chili’s, healthy halo dishes are flourishing. And it isn’t just vegetarian dishes. It is the dynamic flavoring as much in demand as their meat-based counterparts.

Zaytina, for instance, menus a stew of green chickpeas and tomatoes. Not a timid offering for the likes of José Andrés. Then there's the flourishing fast casual darling, Honeygrow, big on noodle, rice, and greens as the basis for their popular bowls, but takes tofu one step further with a roasted, spiced treatment. Veg-centric is a macro-trend that is pervasive with strong ties to plant protein menuing.

Digital/Continuous Temp Logging Tools

A real piece of technology that we can - and should - hook our food safety talons into? Anything dealing with improved food safety. And a technology piece that takes some of the human factor (translation: labor) out of the cost equation is definitely on the menu. T

aking temperatures of refrigerators, freezers, low-boys, and walk-ins is a forgettable annoyance at best and tedious at worst. But it needs to be done. Or should be done!

Logging temperatures is a health department requirement in many municipalities or shortly will be. And it is good business sense to keep an eye on equipment performance to prevent failures and hella costly repairs or replacements. Continuously record temperatures of in-place equipment and get alerts to keep things smooth. While it takes 30 seconds for a cook to log temps, he can forget or fake it. Yes, I am looking at you. Take the risk out of this risk factor and sleep easier.

Tableside Cooking - What’s Old is New. Again.

Not every innovation is new. Some developments are reinventions from the by-gone days. Remember Dover sole prepared tableside? Or crepes in a copper pan set aflame to the "oohs" and "ahhs" of onlookers? The novel element of tableside cooking is much akin to the allure of open kitchens.

Guests like to see the action that it takes to make Aunt Stella’s alligator pie get flambéed. If Chicago’s Tony Mantuano is doing tableside dishes at River Roast, then it must be cool.

The Wayback Machine

Classic French fare is not going to replace braised short rib, jackfruit tacos, or quinoa bowls today. But it is getting a refreshed nod. The demise of jacket-and-tie restaurants is no secret. Like tableside cooking, though, what is old is new again. Elevated French food is the highwater mark for classically trained chefs. But what about for the new crew of kitchen renegades? Well, they appreciate - and execute - a good confit like their predecessors. Most recently, a refresh to French-grounded menus with structured appetizer, entrée, dessert formats is reemerging.

Small plates, shareables, and communal dining are not fading. New York’s Benno, the recently opened namesake of Chef Jonathan Benno, brings acclaim to classical French (and a dollop of Italian) to the notorious trend epi-center of the U.S. The turn to classic dining as a mainstream option is still a ways off. But it does hold enough novel individualism that it is new to people that grew up without fitted suits, button downs, and carpeted dining rooms devoid of Edison lights.

A little flourish to the ordinary keeps customers interested. Yes, eighty-percent of sales will still come from the top 20 percent performers. But giving customers something to keep them involved is what has chefs, customers, and Instagrammers asking for the “what’s next.”

Kimpton Predicts More Plant-Based Dishes and Mocktails on Menus in 2019

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

With only two more months left of 2018, the 2019 food trend predictions are starting to roll out.

Last year, like many forecasts predicted, we saw a spike in vegan dishes.

But this was just the beginning.

Plant-based options have now become mainstream and they aren't only being selected by vegetarians or vegans either.

According to the Kimpton's 2019 Culinary & Cocktails Trend Forecast by Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants group, the plant-based movement is going into overdrive in 2019.

"Expect to see more “whole beast movement” but with a vegetable twist, as more chefs experiment with “whole vegetable” entrées, like a roasted eggplant with eggplant caviar, and crispy eggplant skin chips," writes Kimpton.

The Kimpton 2019 Culinary + Cocktail Trends is based on the feedback received from a survey sent to the leading chefs, sommeliers, general managers, and bartenders at 80+ Kimpton restaurants and bars.

According to Kimpton's data, besides plant-based focused dishes, restaurants are introducing more adventurous protein dishes like fried kidneys and lamb liver. Simple classics are expected to see a revamp like cauliflower gnocchi and Fois Gras fried rice.

Superfoods that "pack a strong nutrition punch" are also here to stay in 2019.

"Expect to see more gut-friendly, fermented and probiotic-rich ingredients like tapache and sauerkraut infiltrating both dishes and drinks alike," according to Kimpton.

In terms of bar programs, 80 percent of the bartenders surveyed said that they are incorporating more mocktails.

Besides also adding more adventurous ingredients to cocktails like jackfruit, endive, chorizo, and more; bartenders are making a push to develop more sustainable beverage programs.

"Eighty-eight percent of bartenders consider sustainability whenever they design a cocktail for their menu," according to Kimpton. "In fact, bartenders are incorporating sustainability in a variety of ways, including edible garnishes, on-site bee hives, room temperature cocktails, and bar and kitchen menus featuring fewer ingredients that can be incorporated into multiple cocktails and dishes."

Read more of Kimpton's food and beverage trend predictions now.

Every year Foodable makes predictions based on Foodable Labs data about what’s to come in the foodservice business. Check out this episode of Plugged In, where Paul Barron broke down his top eight predictions for 2018, most of which were spot on.

Consumers Demand These Culinary Innovations

On this episode of On Foodable Weekly, culinary trends are taking the stage. Just a few years ago, many diners hadn’t heard of exotic dishes and ingredients like kimchi or ostrich steaks.

In an effort to keep their art interesting, chefs are constantly innovating to provide their customers with experiences that WOW diners. However, today's customers are more educated and more adventurous than ever. This is pushing chefs to continue experimenting and is certainly keeping chefs on their toes!

Mark Garcia of Avocados From Mexico says the new consumers’ well-traveled palates are pushing guests to ask for more from their dining experiences.

“We’re really experiencing those flavors when we travel and we expect them when we come back home,” said Garcia. 

Chef Eileen Andrade of Finka Table and Tap adds that social media also encourages innovation.

“Social media has been a huge influence, for sure. I mean, now you have everything at your fingertips. It’s like, you’re sitting in Miami and you see something cool trending in LA. Then you’re like ‘I wanna do that,’ so you do it in Miami.”

Chef Andrade continues to explain how chefs must build trust to allow customers to step out of their comfort zones. Sometimes it takes a little extra effort but at the end of the day, the customer's experience is what matters.

“We have alligator on the menu. We have ostrich. We’re trying to do things a little differently and kind of present these ingredients and these flavors to people who normally haven’t had it. And we do that by gaining their trust at the table saying, you know, ‘If you don't like it, we’ll take it off the bill but just try it.’ So we’ve been successful in changing people’s mind[s].”

Watch the episode above to learn about even more culinary trends we’ll be seeing this year.

 
 

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Releases 2017 Culinary and Cocktail Trends Forecast

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Releases 2017 Culinary and Cocktail Trends Forecast

By Mae Velasco, Associate Editor

Inventive twists on avocado toast, rainbow foods, poke bowls, and the comeback of the classic cocktail seemed to run rampant in 2016, but what culinary and cocktail trends can we expect the next time the New Year's Eve Ball drops?

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, the first boutique hotel and restaurant company in the United States and a large chain that boasts more than 65 award-winning concepts, unveiled their annual trends forecast for 2017. This forecast, self-proclaimed by the brand as "chef-driven" and "bartender-inspired," was determined by an extensive survey of trailblazing chefs, sommeliers, general managers, and bartenders across more than 70 Kimpton restaurants, bars, and lounges across 30 cities. 

"When it comes to culinary trends, Kimpton chefs and bartenders are on the hunt for the flavors and techniques that tantalize taste buds and expand diners’ culinary universe. They’re true trendsetters and innovators in our kitchens and bars,” Alex Taylor, Kimpton's senior vice president of restaurants & bars, said in a press release. “These are the most creative and cutting-edge culinary concepts that will pepper menus and home kitchens in the coming year.”

No need for a countdown here. Without further ado, below are 2017's most anticipated trends. 

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