Tag Archives: foodservices

5 Restaurant and Foodservice Industry Trends

The foodservice industry is constantly evolving.  One minute we’re focused on one thing, then six months down the road something new pops up.  In our 2011 “end of year” foodservice trends and predictions review, quite a few trends have really stuck such as mobile ordering devices, local food and double-sided menus (menus that separate healthy and unhealthy, such as McDonald’s recent “Favorites Under 400“).  Then there are other trends we haven’t heard much about such as plate shapes.

So as you can see, a lot can change in eight months.  Here are some of the latest trends, and we hope you will share what you are seeing in our comment section below.

Pop-Up Restaurants

Food trucks aren’t the only form of mobile food, pop-up restaurants are too.  A pop-up restaurant is a temporary dining experience that can be used for a chef to try out different menu items, a landlord wishing to rent out space during downtime or a dining experience for an event such as the pop-up Goodness, which lasted the duration of New York’s fashion week in February.

However Intuit doesn’t say pop-ups are anything new, because they have been around for quite a long time.  They are starting to show true staying power though.  Perhaps it’s because  it’s cheaper to start a pop-up than to open a restaurant, it’s a great way to test out an idea or maybe there is something to be said for the power of social media to draw customers.

Upscale Kids Menus

Quinoa, black bean and corn salad, stuffed zucchini boats, pesto pasta, apple oat balls and felafel wraps are just five of the 54 winning entries of the first Kids’ State Dinner hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama on August 20.  Just to reiterate, these ideas weren’t whipped up by professional chefs with years of experience, but just children.  With the new USDA guidelines for schools and an overall push for better eating habits, restaurants have started to pick up on revamping kids menus and provide out of the box menu ideas.  For instance Applebees offers a grilled chicken sandwich with a variety of sides (the side advertised being broccoli) and Ruby Tuesday offers kids chop steak with broccoli and white cheddar mashed potatoes.  These menus are much more advanced compared to the days of cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, french fries and macaroni and cheese.

Gen Y Changing the Game

A recent Food Management article looked closely at Packaged Fact’s  “Collegiate Gen Y eating: Culinary Trend Mapping Report” and it appears that college-aged Gen Y’ers (18 to 22) are starting to define new trends in food.  According to Food Management, it’s because of the way they are exposed to new foods and they predict these trends will stay because the foodservice industry will have to adapt once all these students enter the workforce.

The report found students “are nutritionally minded, crave flavorful foods, look for comfort and indulgence and need speed and convenience.”  Some recent foods or trends that have been introduced in college foodservices have been going meatless, chickpeas, different fruits and vegetables, Asian cuisine, comfort foods (such as Italian or Mexican) and foods one can eat while on the go.

Awareness of Food Allergies and Diet Restrictions on Menus

This section isn’t necessarily a trend, but restaurants are starting to pay more attention to food allergies and dietary restrictions and take them more seriously.  Even as far back as a couple years ago, people weren’t thinking about gluten-free.  Today?  Several restaurants include gluten-free items on their menu.  But food allergy awareness extends further than the menu.  In the back of the house, restaurants have to ensure people with severe food allergies remain safe.  Many restaurants have put procedures in place while others are still learning and take food allergies on a case by case basis.  To help, manufacturers of foodservice products have begun to create products to help with food allergies, such as San Jamar’s Allergen Saf-T-Zone cutting boards.  Then when it comes to just health or dietary restrictions, restaurants are including nutritional information or helpful guides to help diners make informed choices on the food they eat.  For instance noting an entree is low calorie or low fat.  Others may let customers know an item has a low amount of sodium.

Local and Sustainability

Consumers are really starting to care more about where their food comes from, how it’s grown, what the animals they may consume are eating, etc.  Over the last couple years there has been a rise in locally sourced food.  This rise went as high as restaurants going “hyper-local,” where they grow their own food.  It provides customers with a fresh product while keeping it in a community.

Then there is the other side of the spectrum where people and/or restaurants care about where their meat comes from and what the animal is eating.  There are some individuals that can tell a difference in taste between a grass fed cow and corn fed cow.  In a Forbes article, they said people “can now buy specialized breeds, meats raised on different diets, and those without antibiotics or hormones in just about every major city.”

What changes are you seeing in the foodservice industry? Restaurants, schools, etc.?  Please share below!

Food Rescuing Organizations: How Restaurants and Foodservices Can Help Combat Hunger

With obesity rates as high as they are, it makes it easy to forget the millions of Americans, both adults and children, who struggle with hunger on a daily basis. There are my ways to help combat hunger and as we learned in our Tuesday blog, food rescue organizations are one way restaurants and foodservices can make a difference.

What Do Food Rescue Organizations Do?

In January, we spoke with Ben Shine, communications and development manager at Second Helpings of Indianapolis, to learn about food rescuing and their involvement with the Super Bowl.

“It’s anything overstocked, over prepared or unused,” Shine said.  “Anything that hasn’t been served to the public and handled by food safe handlers.”

Food rescuers get the unused food from a variety of sources such as restaurants, distributors and grocery stores.

Restaurants Getting Involved

According to a recent article from ABC 2 news in Chicago, recent statistics show 30 to 50 percent of the world’s food does not get eaten and ends up in landfills.

Restaurants and foodservices are some of many places where food is wasted, and by teaming up with a local food rescuing organization, that perfectly fine, unused food can be saved and served to someone who needs it.

Finding a food rescue in your area can be as simple as a quick Google search.  There is also a section of the USDA’s website that provides information about some of the country’s largest food rescuing organizations, as well as the USDA Food Recovery Hotline: 1-800-GLEAN-IT.

A Look at a Food Rescuing Organization: Second Helpings of Indianapolis

Second Helpings is a non-profit food rescuing organization in Indianapolis.  On Tuesday March 27, we (Content Coordinators Ashley Cobb and Tracey Rector) visited the facility for a tour and to learn more about what Second Helpings does.

The organization was started in 1998 by three Indianapolis chefs: Kristen Cordoza Kienker, Bob Koch and Jean Paison.  Today, Second Helpings rescues over 1.7 million pounds of food each year and delivers around 3,000 meals to over 60 social service agencies.  This saves those agencies approximately $2 million each year.

“We don’t go search for hungry people to feed, or open up to let them come eat.  You see, these agencies already know where to find them and what their needs are,” Shine explained. “Plus, the food we provide these organizations saves them tens of thousands of dollars a year in providing full food service to their clients.”

Second Helpings has over 600 volunteers, 30 of which work in their facility each day.

But they don’t only rescue food; Second Helpings also has a free culinary job training program for the unemployed or underemployed and places 85 percent of graduates in local foodservice positions.

“We have our culinary training class led by Chef Sam Brown,” said Second Helpings Communications and Development Coordinator, Emily Cutka.

Chef Brown is a graduate of class No. 6, and Second Helpings recently held their 66th graduation.  This last class had 12 graduates and Cutka said there have been 483 graduates so far.

“Half the day is spent in the classroom and the other half is spent in the kitchen,” she said. “Guest chefs from well-known restaurant around Indy come in sometimes as well.”

For Second Helpings, It’s More than Just Rescuing Food

Each volunteer from Second Helpings is trained on what food can be brought back and understand what is safe to eat.

They also recycle and compost.  A company comes in to pick up the recycling and compost and Cutka mentioned some of the remaining compost is used for their herb garden in their backyard.

Also, each volunteer cooking the food is very aware of where the food will be delivered that day and adjusts how it’s cooked accordingly.

“For example, if it’s going to places where children are the main demographic, the volunteers will be sure to cut up the food into smaller pieces,” Cutka said.  “Or if the food is going to Wheeler Mission, where adult men are the base demographic, they will be more likely to prepare something more hearty.”

And thanks to some private donations, Second Helpings has recently doubled their capacity and now have a more streamlined process for their day-to-day tasks.

Overall

The visit to Second Helpings was incredible.  It’s amazing to see so much food that would normally go to waste be put to good use.

Second Helpings is just one of many food rescuing organizations in the country and is definitely a great way for restaurants and foodservices to help combat hunger.

To get involved, search your area or visit the USDA website.

All photos taken during our visit to Second Helpings.  View our Facebook page to view all photos during our visit.