Top 5 Dining Trends for 2010
The world is getting smaller, flavor is going global and sourcing ingredients is occurring more often in the chef’s back yard. And social media is revolutionizing customer involvement in the dining experience. So says Benchmark Hospitality International, which recently released its five top dining trends for 2010.
Trend #1 - Cultural Diversity and Authenticity Reign Supreme
More and more restaurant patrons have varied backgrounds and their preferences and demands are requiring culinary teams to create menus that are diverse, rich with intense flavors and authentic—the real thing.
Patrons want a dining experience that is sincere and honest—no disingenuous or gratuitous menu additions will be accepted by their increasingly sophisticated palates. For example, the slow food movement has taught us to respect products of true artisan origin, derived of ancient methodologies.
Food providers must be genuine in their relationship with their customers and deliver what they’ve promised. Today’s customer is not only seeking an authentic experience but recognizes when he or she is misguided. If you say you offer Cuban cuisine, make sure it’s genuine!
Trend #2 - Health and Wellness Begin at Home
America is finally waking up to the fact that health and wellness start at home! Fad diets and government intervention have not sufficiently protected consumers and countered the food industry’s supersizing or the American consumers’ overconsumption.
Today almost every agency is scurrying to find solutions to the problem. What’s working? The most basic approach of all: educating children during their formative years on healthy portion size and sound, nutritionally balanced eating habits, and then setting an example.
Today’s caterers and chefs need to respond creatively to satisfy increasingly health-conscience consumers. This can start with as basic a food preparation technique as substituting intensely flavored herbs for salt, punching up flavor while reducing unhealthy sodium levels.
Trend #3 - Biodiversity, Sustainability, Family Farms and Beekeepers
Expect to see more family farms, shrimp farmers, chicken, cattle and cheese producers waging a small but very significant war against mass production and unscrupulous use of resources or inhumane treatment of animals.
Going forward, menus will be infused by the freshest local ingredients as chefs increasingly develop kitchen gardens, produce their own honey and eggs, or secure fresh local and heirloom products in partnership with neighborhood grocers and artisanal purveyors. Locavore sensibilities are becoming embedded in the consumers’ psyches. And this trend is here to stay!
Trend #4 - The Future of American Flavors is International
The era for spices and herbs has begun. Consumers and chefs are expanding their repertoire of spices to little known names such as Fenugreek, Annatto, Charoli, Epazote, Galangal, Zatar and spices from around the globe.
While the wine world was rescued from domination by Chardonnays and Cabernets with grapes such as Verdelho, Tannat, Schioppettino, Mourvédre, Arneis and Aglianico, the spice world’s rescue has now begun! Flavor has never tasted so good!
Trend #5 - Social Media is Revolutionizing Menus and Service
Social media’s viral penetration of society, with its immediate feedback based on customer preference and service experience, is revolutionizing restaurants across the country. Menus are being tweaked and service streamlined in response to customer feedback, and consistent communication with customers is on the front burner. Nothing is taken for granted anymore!
Today, the dining experience must consistently hit on all cylinders; starting with placing the reservation, with phone etiquette, welcoming guests, dining room lighting and music, to the menu knowledge of servers, cuisine authenticity, outstanding flavors and the personal connection with the customer established before, during and after the meal has been consumed.