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.

“Angeleno” Food Cart Brings Traditional LA Tacos to Philly

Los Angeles-native Vanessa Jerolmack has been making traditional Mexican tacos all her life, but it wasn't until she moved to Philadelphia that she thought to open up a shop dishing out the craveable bites. Now, on a lot on Baltimore Avenue, Taco Angeleno serves customers fully customizable tacos, burritos and quesadillas with an array of options, even catering to the vegan crowd.

“We make a homemade seitan here, and that's from my vegan days,” Jerolmack explains. “Like, I wanted something meaty tasting that I could eat with all the normal toppings that the other people with a meat taco were eating.”

Using a commercial kitchen ten blocks away, Taco Angeleno preps all its ingredients before bringing them to the food cart to be served. Customizable toppings like Salvadorian curtido, and staples like onions, cilantro, and lime take the tacos to the next level.

Being an outdoor restaurant, Taco Angeleno is only open from May through October to avoid the cold and rainy Philadelphia weather, but you can visit Taco Angeleno year-round by watching the episode above!

 
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Traditional Brand Cacique proves Authenticity is Trendy

On this episode of On Foodable Weekly: Industry Pulse, we see how long-standing brand, Cacique, is adapting in response to the millennial consumer, while still staying true to their identity.

Cacique has been at the forefront of authentic Mexican cuisine for over 40 years. Their traditional products like queso fresco and crema are staples of the brand.

“There’s certain old-world products that we make, like queso fresco, that.. you can’t touch it. Leave it alone, keep it authentic, right? But there’s a lot of other stuff that, it's a little more complicated, right? So they don’t want to have it ready to go, but they kind of want to have it, finish it at home, somewhat prepared, still authentic, not fully processed,” says Chris Iglesias, director of marketing innovation for Cacique.

This is why the brand is looking into different formats. Currently, Cacique has expanded into shredded and grated cheeses. According to Iglesias the brand is now also looking into meal kits— a trending segment currently dominated by Blue Apron. As kits gain traction, other companies are latching onto the movement. Knowing that many of their products are staples, Cacique is looking into combining some of their products to present to the consumer as a complete meal.

Cacique just recently launched a new product line— flavored cremas.

“We’ve been in the cream business or crema business for about 40 years. This will be the first time we go into flavors. So, we’re launching a jalapeño, cilantro lime and chipotle flavored cream and it’s coming in a squeeze platform,” says Iglesias.

The squeeze bottle is an important component to addressing customer needs. Not only is the squeeze bottle convenient, but it also keeps the crema fresher, longer.

Watch the episode above to learn more about the innovations Cacique is making in response to the millennial consumer!