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Benchmark Hospitality's Top Five
U.S. Dining Trends for 2010


The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, June 2010 ... Benchmark Hospitality International, the leading, privately-held hospitality management company in the United States, has just released its Five Top Dining Trends for 2010.   The trends were observed by its 30 properties coast to coast and off shore, and were announced by Giorgi Di Lemis, vice president of food & beverage. 

“The world is getting smaller, flavor is going global, and sourcing ingredients increasingly is occurring in the chef’s back yard,” said Mr. Di Lemis.  “And the immediacy and reach of social media is revolutionizing customer involvement in the dining experience.  Today nothing is taken for granted in the success of a restaurant.”

Trend #1 Cultural Diversity and Authenticity Reign Supreme

Restaurant patrons are representing increasingly varied backgrounds and their preferences and demands are requiring culinary teams to create menus that are diverse,  rich with intense flavors, and are 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. 

Restaurateurs 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 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 consumer’s 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 restaurant operators 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 consumer’s psyches.  And this trend is here to stay!

Trend #4   The Future of American Flavors is the World

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, Za’tar – spices from around the globe. 

While the wine world was rescued from domination by Chardonnays and Cabernets with grapes such as Verdelho, Tannat, Schioppettino, Mourvèdre, Arneis, Aglianico, the spice world’s rescue has now begun!  Flavor has never tasted so good!!

Trend #5 Social Media is revolutionizing Restaurant 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!

The smart chefs and restaurateurs are responding to all forms of social media by listening … and by reflecting consumer feedback in the overall experience their restaurant provides. 

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.

Plus Two Side Dishes

Side Dish #1  Small dishes to Share is the Trend

And not only the well-known little dishes from Spain, such as Tapas, but all the small dishes of various cultures, including Dim-Sum from Asia, Mezedes from Greece and Turkey, Cicchetti from Northern Italy.  The surge in popularity of these diminutive dishes that include bite size, guilt free desserts are a response to changing tastes and flavor preferences of a new generation that does not want to eat one or two large plates but to enjoy the various flavors of the world, while sharing these with friends.

This stimulates more that just the taste buds … rather, it allows for greater conversation while interacting with the food, and an authentic experience with the cuisine of a culture not one’s own.  After all, a great way to learn about a new country is by eating its food!

Side Dish #2  Italian is still the King Cuisine of America

But with a twist. More and more chefs are discovering the simple but delicious regional dishes of Abruzzo, Puglia, Piemonte [Piedmont], Puglia, Calabria and Sicilia [Sicily]. Each region has a unique personality, with dialect, customs, traditions, architecture -- and food and wine. 

From the hot, dry south to the cool alpine foothills, the regional cuisines of Italy are as varied as the climate. The golden hills of saffron in Abruzzo lend a zesty spice to local risotto, while the bay of Naples is renowned for its frutti di mare and mozzarella di bufala, and visitors to Piemonte sample rustic delicacies like truffles and porcini mushrooms, which punch up flavors of seasonal dishes in the autumn.  Today’s “Italian” does not just mean pasta and sauce anymore! 

For more information on Benchmark Hospitality International's "Top Dining Trends for 2010," or to speak with a Benchmark Hospitality culinary professional, contact Ken Ellens, Ken Ellens Communications, at 201-758-2864 or KenEllens@aol.com.

About Benchmark Hospitality International
Benchmark Hospitality International is a leader in the management and marketing of resorts, conference centers, hotels, and Personal Luxury Hotels™.  The independent company, launched in 1980, is a founding member of the International Association of Conference Centers.  Benchmark Hospitality is a worldwide organization operating properties in major metropolitan and resort destinations.  Benchmark's international headquarters is located in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston.  The company’s northeast regional office is in New Jersey, with international offices in Tokyo, Japan, and Santiago, Chile. For the location of Benchmark’s properties and additional information, visit www.benchmarkhospitality.com

For more information on Giorgi Di Lemis, vice president food & beverage, Benchmark Hospitality International, visit www.benchmarkhospitality.com/Media_Center/Executive_Bios.asp

To access Benchmark’s Portfolio of properties, visit:  http://www.benchmarkhospitality.com/Property_Profile/Property_Profile.asp

For photography, visit:  http://www.benchmarkhospitality.com/Media_Center/Property_Photography.asp at benchmark
 

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Contact: 

Ken Ellens
Ken Ellens Communications 
201-758-2864 / 201-758-2865-Fax
KenEllens@aol.com

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Also See: Benchmark Hospitality International’s Top Five Dining Trends for 2009; Plus Five Cocktail Trends / December 2008
Benchmark Hospitality's Top Five Dining Trends for 2007 / August 2007
Benchmark's Top Five Dining Trends for 2006... and a Word About Wine / August 2006
Where Dining Is Headed: Five Trends / Uncomplicated, Straight from the Garden & Sea, Inexpensive, Exploding with Flavor / October 2005
Benchmark Hospitality's Top Dining Trends for the Future, as Observed by its Properties / September 2004
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