What’s new on menus this year?
It depends on whom you ask. According to the National Restaurant Association, a survey of nearly 1,800 American Culinary Federation chefs identified the following top 20 menu trends for 2012:
- Locally sourced meats and seafood
- Locally grown produce
- Healthful kids’ meals
- Hyper-local items, such as ingredients from restaurants’ own gardens
- Sustainability as a culinary theme
- Children’s nutrition as a culinary theme
- Gluten-free/food allergy-conscious items
- Locally produced wine and beer
- Sustainable seafood
- Whole grain items in kids’ meals
- Newly fabricated cuts of meat, such as the pork flat iron and the beef petit tender
- Farm/estate-branded items
- Food trucks/street food
- Artisan spirits
- House-made/artisan ice cream
- Health/nutrition as a culinary theme
- Non-traditional fish
- Fruit/vegetable kids’ side items
- Children’s mini-meals (i.e. smaller versions of adult menu items
- Culinary cocktails
A Different Perspective
Bret Thom, senior food editor for Nation’s Restaurant News, also picked his own top menu trends for 2012. Here are a few he identified:
- Focus on three types of dining items: inexpensive foods for guests who want something quick and easy; healthful items for the growing population of consumers who watch what they eat; splurge items (either high-calorie or high-price) for customers who really want to treat themselves.
- Pistachios. Consumers want ingredients that are exotic, without being threatening – and pistachios fit the bill.
- Shake shots. Four-ounce milk shakes are an easy, low-guilt, semi-indulgent upsell item that will strike a nostalgic chord with consumers looking for retro items.
- Bananas Foster. A big syrup company just released bananas Foster syrup, indicating that we will see a lot more of this banana, brown sugar, rum and vanilla ice cream flavor combination.
- Asian cuisine. Both Thom and hospitality consultant Andrew Freeman predict that thai-style items like sweet chili sauce, tikka masala sauce and issan sausages will be popping up on more menus.
Penguin Staff can help you capitalize on these hot menu trends. We provide trained, reliable front of house and back of house support personnel for your banquets, special events or daily facility operations.