Tag Archives: Trends

5 Summer Recipe Tips and Trends


Way to start off with the obvious, huh?  It’s true though.  Chefs all over the country are firing up their grills now that the warmer months have arrived.  “A grill is always a grill, whether you rock a two-foot kettle charcoal number of a gas-fueled beast with more knobs than an airplane cockpit,” said Boston Phoenix writer, Cassandra Landry, in her article, “Six Local Chefs Serve Up Quick Summer Recipe Tips.”  Customers enjoy the grill, especially when the weather is nice and there is outdoor seating.  There are also customers who simply enjoy the taste of foods that have been cooked on the grill.  So if you’re a novice chef eager to learn more, check out Forbes’ “Summer Grilling Tips From Top Chefs” to help get you started.

Food on a Stick

Food on a stick has moved ahead in the world—we aren’t only seeing skewered chicken or shrimp kabobs; restaurants and bakeries are getting creative.  One of the biggest trends is the cake pop.  The word “pop” makes you think of something like a Popsicle or a lollipop, which is where the idea stems from.  It’s literally cake on a stick.

“The cake pop is a mixture of a lollipop and a delicious cake, which creates a classy dessert for everyone to enjoy,” said Lianne Khatcherian in the blog, “Cake Pops: Delicious Dessert Trend.”  And as a side note, cake pops can provide great portion control and will also help your customers not ingest as many calories (unless of course you make them otherwise).  However, while cake pops seem to be a huge trend, you can do all kinds of things with different foods on sticks.  The big idea here is to be creative.  In the blog “12 New Ways To Use Toothpicks & Fun with Finger Food,” while they provide many other uses for toothpicks, the end of the blog has neat pictures with different ways people have put food on sticks.  They make for great appetizers, side dishes and desserts.

Grain Salads

Grain salads aren’t anything new, but according to Bon Appetit, they are a summer menu trend for 2012.  “This summer, we’re loving whole grains.  Not just for the nutritional boost they bring to the table,” the site said, “but for the backbone they give these bright, toss-together salads.”  When it comes to grain salad recipes, they vary.  There are all different kinds.  Do a quick Google search on “grain salads” and each result will be different.  Some include grains with lettuce, while others add grains in with fruit or nuts.

Want to try a grain salad out and have some fun? Check out Fine Cooking’s Create Your Own Grain Salad.  It’s kind of like a virtual version of a “make your own salad” restaurant, only with grains.  You pick and choose your ingredients, and then it provides you with a recipe to try it yourself! So if you’re looking for ways to change up your restaurant’s salad menu, grain salads may be the way to go.

In-Season Foods

One of the ways chefs can get creative is taking advantage of what’s in-season and creating menus specifically from those items.  Fruits & Veggies More Matters lists over 65 foods that are in-season this summer (as well as fall, winter and spring too), with some of those being  casaba melon, champagne grapes, chayote squash, endive, edamame, honeydew melons, peas, sapote, watermelon and zucchini.  There are all kinds of items you can add in for summer you wouldn’t be able to use in the other months.  Get in touch with your distributor or a local farmers market to see what different items you can get in your restaurant.

Stumped for ideas? Well first off, going back to the second idea in this blog, could you put any of the items on a stick?  There’s more than that though, check out some of these recipe ideas in Food Network’s article “In Season Now, Taste of Summer.”

Frozen Treats

Move over ice cream, frozen yogurt and custard, there are many other items that are perfect for the warm weather and provide diversity in a menu.  We’ll only go over two, but do your research, you’ll find tons of ideas.  First, there’s frozen Greek yogurt.  Greek yogurt isn’t anything new, but seems to have gained in popularity lately over the last few years.  “Greek yogurt has much lower lactose than regular yogurt,” said Rajan Jolly in the article “The Health Benefits of Greek Yogurt and Frozen Yogurt.”  Also, the article said, “…the removal of whey removes a lot of sugar and in effect, calories, while increasing the amount of protein which is almost double due to it becoming denser as compared to the same volume of regular yogurt.”  While many say they can’t tell a difference in taste, Greek yogurt does have its differences from regular yogurt, and can be a good way to change up a menu.

For the second idea, there’s frozen kefir.  Kefir isn’t something glaringly popular (many probably haven’t even heard of it), but it definitely has a distinct tart taste that sets it apart from frozen yogurt.  “It contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt,” explained Kefir.net.  They continue to say it is loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals, along with easily digestible complete proteins.  And, as an added bonus to fit the needs for lactose-free customers, “for the lactose intolerant, kefir’s abundance or beneficial yeast and bacteria provide lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after culturing process.”  So adding either of these, or any unique frozen dessert item, will be intriguing and can add some variety to the menu.

Happy Cooking!

Foodservice Trends and Predictions for 2012

Last December we put together a list of 10 foodservice trends for 2011.  Some that topped the list and stayed strong were food trucks, social media, better nutrition and mobile ordering.

For 2012, there’s much being talked about.  Several blogs, lists and articles are surfacing with upcoming trends and there’s so much great information available.  So this year, not only will you get a list from us, but each one on the list will include a link for more information so you take a look at all of the trends yourself.  Enjoy!

Image: 3rdworldman/MorgueFile

Handing Over the Control

Today’s world is very particular, especially when it comes to food.  Fast Casual reports 2012 will be the year customers gain more control over their dining experience.  They mention custom ordering systems will aid with this—which is what we’ve seen all year.  From tablets to smartphone apps, restaurants are certainly headed in the customizable direction.  One concern earlier this year with the mobile devices was if they would take away from customer service.  When we attended the NRA show in May, we learned tablets won’t take away from customer service, but in fact enhance the experience as the wait staff will have more time to focus on customers. Read Fast Casual’s full trends list here.

The Best of Both Worlds

Some customers want healthier menu items while others just want something that tastes really good and aren’t too concerned with nutritional value.  For 2012, restaurants will start catering to both types of customers.  Many sites including QSR Magazine call this trend the “Double-Sided Menu.”  The double-sided menu will give customers the best of both worlds—healthy options and not-so-healthy options.  Read QSR’s top five trends here. 

Southern Foods

Image: Jdurham/MorgueFile

During tougher times, people turn to what makes them feel good, comfortable and safe–which in many cases, is food.  According to Monkey Dish’s trend list, southern comfort foods will become more popular.  Chefs will be making favorites such as grits, chicken and dumplings or smokehouse barbeque.  They may even put their own spin on the recipes too.  Read Monkey Dish’s full article here, and check out all of their 2012 predictions here.



 Healthier Kid’s Meals

Restaurants and QSRs all over the country have been upgrading their kid’s menus to be healthier; so this is definitely not something that’s brand new.  But according to another QSR article, healthier meals for children will be on the agenda.  This will tie in extremely well with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” to help curb childhood obesity.  Read more trends from QSR here.

Plate Shapes

At Central, one of the trends we’ve seen in restaurants is an interest in unique or customizable shapes for dinnerware.  It looks like these unique shapes will continue in 2012, but in a different way.  In an article by SmartBlog on Restaurants, they reveal chefs will be changing their food presentations to be more spread out as opposed to high.  This would make a change for a higher demand of square plates instead of round.  And as a side note on ordering plates, if you do a custom order—make sure to order extras to avoid any trouble in the future if the vendor is no longer able to provide you with your custom dinnerware. Read SmartBlog on Restaurant’s full blog here.

Social Media for Small Businesses

This trend seems familiar from last year, doesn’t it? It was on the list, but it’s different for 2012.  According to Duct Tape Marketing, they predict social media will impact smaller businesses.  This stems from their statement that social networks will move in the direction of being their own marketplaces.  So far, sites like Facebook and Twitter have made restaurants successful with spreading the word about themselves and connecting with fans—so now is the time for the smaller places to get on board and take advantage of this free advertising.  (If you need help, check out our tutorials for Facebook and Twitter).  Read all of Duct Tape Marketing’s small business predictions here.

24/7 Breakfast

Image: Jeltovski/MorgueFile

Looking to bakery trends, Modern Baking says several bakery cafes keep breakfast on the menu all day.  With this in demand, many other bakeries and restaurants may follow suit and also provide breakfast items throughout the day.  Read all of Modern Baking’s bakery trends here.




According to the National Restaurant Association’s list of food trends, one that tops the list is going local.  This could be anything from meat to alcoholic beverages. Going local is a great way to support your community and to also know where food is coming from.  Luke Patterson, owner of Luke’s Joint and a few other establishments in Arcata, Calif. is one of Central’s customers who buys local—and it’s been very successful.  Read about his experience here and read more from the NRA’s trends list here.

The Signature Item

Image: Maxstraeten/MorgueFile

Whopper. Big Mac. Soup and Salad. Bloomin’ Onion.  We didn’t mention restaurant names yet you most likely know where each of these items comes from.  In a recent Nation’s Restaurant News article, they interviewed Galletta Oliver of Ink Foundry who said the importance of the “signature item” will increase.  That being said, restaurants will create or promote menu items that will make customers choose their restaurant over another.  Read all of NRN’s predictions here.

With these predictions just being a handful of many, it looks as though 2012 will be a busy year for the foodservice industry.  We look forward to seeing how these predictions go and we’ll be sure to follow them throughout the year and keep you posted on how they are doing.

Central wishes you and yours a very happy New Year.  We look forward to a great 2012 for everyone!

2011 Foodservice Trends and 2012 Predictions

Last December, we searched all over and compiled a list of 10 foodservice trends for 2011.  Overall, all 10 items on our list have been successful as far as the predictions go.  Take a look at the list for a quick refresher, then read below about some of the major trends that have now become mainstream.

Food Trucks

It’s been incredible to see how the food truck has evolved this year.  They’ve gone from something people were skeptical about to full-blown restaurants on wheels, serving everything from comfort foods and pizza to ethnic cuisine and desserts.

According to the Mashable infographic, “The Rise of the Social Food Truck,” almost 2.5 billion people eat street food.  Food trucks heavily rely on social media, which for most is their No. 1 way to advertise.  They just send out a tweet and Facebook status about where they will be and when.  This gives customers the convenience of different options close to them.

What is even more fascinating is how many food trucks team up together, park near each other or event go to events together.  Whether you love the food or own a truck , check out the Mobile Cuisine website for some great information on the industry.

Social Media/Mobile Ordering and Apps

While many restaurants have probably been using social media for quite some time, it seems as though this year its fully come mainstream.  In Nation Restaurant News’ webinar “The State of Social Media for Restaurants,” panelist Paul Barron (founder of DigitalCoCo) said in his presentation,

“87 percent of restaurant brands have identified social media as a main force for guest connection.”

After all, according to this New York Times article, social media is the most popular way Americans spend time online.

When looking into mobile ordering and apps, restaurants are implementing tablets (i.e. the iPad) in restaurants more and more to increase customer service and productivity (note—these aren’t replacing the wait staff).

At this year’s MUFSO conference (Multi-Unit Foodservice Operator), during New York Times’ Technology Columnist David Pogue’s session, he stressed the importance of restaurants not only using social media but to start looking into smart-phone apps too.  We’ve seen restaurants bring in the tablet, but having an app could be another solution to increasing productivity.  Pogue did take into consideration restaurant’s fears of using social media. His response was,

“But if you use it right, there are some incredible things you can do.”

Better Nutrition and Local/Hyper-Local

This year we’ve seen huge changes with restaurants becoming healthier.

Image from ChooseMyPlate.gov

Restaurants like McDonald’s and Arby’s have changed out fries with apple slices in their kid’s meals, Darden Restaurants recently announced their goal to lower sodium and calorie counts must be posted in certain areas–just to name a few.

The food pyramid got a fresh look this year too, as the USDA released “MyPlate” which replaced the food pyramid.

Schools are definitely headed in a healthier direction with updated nutritional standards.  The School Nutrition Association (SNA) gave the following statistics in this press release from their State of School Nutrition:

  • 98% of American school districts offer fresh fruit and vegetables
  • 97% have expanded the access of whole grains
  • 89% offer salad bars or pre-packaged salads
  • 98% have fat-free or 1% milk

Schools have also added many programs that work to bring in local foods.  When it comes to local in general, people and restaurants are pushing more support for local farmers.  Many restaurants are even taking local a step further and going hyper-local by growing their own food.

What’s In Store for 2012?

Image by Gregory Dicum on the NY Times website

While predictions for 2012 foodservice trends are just now beginning to surface, there are a few to start watching.  We may start to see more artisan and comfort foods on menus and maybe even celebrity food growers (which take it a step ahead of celebrity restaurants).

A trend that we’re already starting to notice is the “all-day” menu at restaurants that meet the demand for food at all hours of the day and night.  Also, pop-up restaurants may also be on the rise.  They are already starting to appear more and more, such as “Goodness,” a fashion week pop-up that provided healthy menu options.

We’ll continue to follow these and will provide our Top 10 Foodservice Trends for 2012 at the end of December. Let us know, what are you seeing? What’s been your favorite trend of 2011?

Leaving Las Vegas: We’re back from the Pizza Expo!

26th Annual International Pizza Expo

Source: PizzaExpo.com

We’re back from another fabulous trip to the 26th Annual International Pizza Expo.  Just like last year, we had a great time meeting our wonderful customers in person!

If you couldn’t make it out to the show, Central’s Director of Sales, Don Hogan, put together a list of the highlights from the 2010 expo:

  • Larger crowd than in 2009
  • Lots of hands-on displays, including the Nemco Easy Chopper II and Easy Slicer shown at Central’s booth
  • New from HATCO:  Glo-Ray food warmers
  • New from DoughPro:  Panini grill that is large enough to cook sandwiches up to 4″ thick!
  • Hot trend in the pizza industry:  Gluten-free pizzas
  • Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse provided cooking demonstrations

For more information about any of the products or trends mentioned, contact a Product Consultant for details.  You can also browse through a list of the top pizza supplies (and if you buy through 3/15/10, you’ll save 10%!).

Be sure to mark your calenders for the 27th Annual International Pizza Expo held March 1-3, 2011 in Las Vegas!  Stay tuned for more details from Central.