|November 2000 - We have factored in our hunches
about technology, the legislative environment and the microclimates within
the American culture to arrive at the 6 trends which will dominate menu
development this year. We welcome your comments!
|Bolder Flavors - While the heat is still
on the rise, fullness of flavor has overtaken macho levels of spice. The
search for bold, intense flavors has expanded the range of the chile peppers
in every chef’s vocabulary. We’ll see techniques which layer the flavors
to make them last longer. Complex undertones will become more common, with
and without spicy heat. This trend plays off of Caribbean, Latin and authentic
|Portable Foods – Time starved consumers
are increasingly eating in their cars or at their desks, making to-go foods
essential. We’ll see more dripless hand-held foods and one-bowl, spoon-included
to-go packets. The line will blur between nutrient-packed beverages and
|Don’t-Call-It-Healthy Food – For frequent
restaurant diners, the words ‘fresh’ and ‘natural’ imply it will taste
good while ‘healthy’ does not. Savvy consumers know how to find ‘week-day
moderation’ without the label. The counter-trend is ‘week-end splurges’,
with a stable, high market share.
|Oasis of Calm –There is much talk about
the nostalgia for slow cooked foods and the restful comfort of good service
- both difficult things for restaurants to provide in a tight labor market.
Fortunately, there are more and far better value-added foodservice products
being introduced - fully cooked pot roasts and meat loaves; par-baked breads
in dozens of shapes and sizes. More ‘signature-ready’ products will be
offered, with the drudgery taken care of at the factory to leave chefs
time to finish the flavor in their kitchens. Watch for some QSRs to move
to ‘limited service’, in which customers queue to order but sit and chat
while servers bring their freshly cooked food.
|Regionalization/Globalization – Pasta
consumption has doubled since the 1980s, and it is now considered to be
American food, eaten 1 to 3 times per week. This means that Italian restaurants
have had to dig deeper into Italian regions to maintain diners’ interest.
And just as Italian restaurants are now Tuscan or Venetian, Mexican restaurants
will specialize in foods of the Yucatán or Oaxaca. Menu generalists
(like TGI Friday’s and Applebee’s) go global instead, picking new flavor
destinations. Look for extensive flavor mining in Southeast Asia. Indian
food will continue to be treated gingerly, avoiding the use of the word
|Mediterranean Spread – A second response
to the long focus on Italian food has been to include more of the Mediterranean.
The specific flavors of Greece, Turkey, Spain, Portugal and North Africa,
similar to Italy in their use of garlic, olive oil and seafood, and sharing
the same ‘healthy’ aura, are only beginning to be explored. Watch for descriptions
to emphasize the Italian-like elements and downplay the unfamiliar.
Why didn’t we include Organic Foods? This is a
great niche for some independent restaurants but a lack of foodservice
distribution, reliable supply and value-added products will continue to
hold back growth. This trend is five years out. Ask us about our hand-held,
organic fast-food ideas for 2006!
in the Food Industry…
Susan and Jonathan formed FoodSense
in 1995 after each had over 20 years experience in different parts of the
food industry. We found that our unique combination of skills fit the needs
of today’s fast-paced food industry for experienced professionals on an
outsource basis, whether by the hour, by the project or by the quarter
Susan Rasmussen has experience on
the corporate side of the industry doing recipe and product development,
trend analysis, and sales and training. She has a BS degree in food and
education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has supplemented
her degree with training in kitchen design and HACCP principles. As a consultant,
she has developed cookbooks for General Mills, Nordic Track and Land O’
Lakes, and served as food trend advisor and recipe prototyper for Pillsbury.
She exhibits the rare combination of energetic creativity and meticulous
attention-to-detail that is needed for successful market driven menu building.
Jonathan Locke, a chef by training,
cooked his way through music school, and cooking eventually won. Since
than he has orchestrated the rhythms of professional kitchens from San
Francisco to Santa Fe to Minneapolis, bringing his energy and food knowledge
to multinational food manufacturers, regional and national restaurants,
and to more than 150 appearances on KARE-11 TV. He teaches and develops
curricula for both public and private culinary schools, and pulls FoodSense
through many a sticky training session with his ability to teach techniques
and safe practices in both English and Spanish, in person or on video.