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FoodSense Offers its Restaurant Predictions: 
Six Trends You’ll See in Restaurants 
Over the Next Year
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 Mexican flavors.
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 breakfast/lunch.
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 ‘curry’.
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! 
 

Experts 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 year.

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.

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Contact Us At:
FoodSense LLP
P.O. Box 6118
Minneapolis, MN 55406-0118
Phone & Fax (763) 422-0002
info@getfoodsense.com
http://www.getfoodsense.com

Also See Necessity Is the Mother of Invention - The Leadership and Problem Solving Skills Required in the Development of Sheerwater Restaurant, Hotel Del Coronado / June 2000 
Menu Development and Analysis / July 2000 


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