Industry Pros’ Prognostications for 2016
With a little help from our industry friends across the nation, we’ve compiled a dossier of predictions for those foods, cuisine styles, technology and processes that could have great impact in 2016 and beyond. Here’s what we found:
Professor Paula Figoni, College of Culinary Arts, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island
HOW COOL IS THIS! Professor Figoni turned our request into a class project. She polled her students in Principles of Product Development class. These future industry shapers came up with the following consensus:
Vegetarianism is gaining momentum and expanding into the mainstream. Millennials (the largest demographic in the nation) are thinking in terms of the environment and sustainability, which dovetails with more emphasis on vegetables in the diet. Michelle Obama’s well-publicized messages to the American public on fighting obesity, her White House garden and her emphasis on the importance of vegetables in a balanced diet, have hit their mark. Kale has served as the poster child for this movement. Additionally, changes to the guidelines/laws concerning school foodservice put a greater emphasis on vegetables, and this will influence the eating patterns of younger Americans for years to come.
The interest in global cuisines is a factor here too, since many diets are plant-based.
Professor Brian Connors, School of Hospitality, Johnson & Wales, North Miami Campus
Millennials will move beyond sweet wines and begin to develop a palate for dry wines. The craft beer and hipster cocktail culture has helped to expand their palates to appreciate a wider range of flavor profiles. Both groups are on the hunt for quality and value. Quality is an attribute of education. Both groups are reading more, attending wine seminars and participating in local wine events. Gen X and Millennials will begin to “trade up” on the restaurant wine list, and to pay a little more to find that ‘hidden gem.’”
Chef Branden Lewis, CEC, Assistant Professor, Johnson & Wales University
“Sustainability and local sourcing will continue to expand, with more and more chefs following sustainable practices. Chefs will use more organic products and purchase locally from farmers they know by face certification. More and more chefs will become ‘ultra-local,’ meaning they will grow their own produce at the restaurant, in an on-site green house or in a rooftop garden.
“There is a growing trend toward more healthful kids’ meals, more wholesome take-out and delivery options, and heathier menu options in general. Alternative grains, rare and flavorful microgreens, pickled items, unique heirloom foods, by-catch fish, sustainable alternative fish options and farmed oysters will all grow even stronger in 2016.”
Eamon Rockey, General Manager, Betony, New York City
(Esquire named Betony “Restaurant of the Year” in 2013; Executive Chef Bryce Shuman named “Best New Chef” in 2015 by Food & Wine.)
“I predict a continuing emergence of the cuisines of South America, started by Brazilian and Argentinian concepts in larger North American cities. Peruvian will be next to explode.
“There is definitely growing emphasis on house-made artisanal breads, served with flavored butters and yogurt butter. We take great pride in our homemade breads here at Betony.
“I see a trend toward restaurants brewing and fermenting their own products to enhance their bar program. We make our own Kombucha (black tea based fermented, sweetened beverage; lightly effervescent) and Tepache (lightly fermented cider made from pineapples, water and sugar).
“In terms of technology, operations with sophisticated bar programs and/or multiple locations will turn to software apps such as BinWise. I am also hearing a lot about Tock. It is similar to Open Table, but integrates a pre-payment option that would eliminate no-shows.”
Chef Neal Fraser, Owner, Redbird, modern American restaurant in downtown Los Angeles
“A lot of us are going back to the basics, focusing on the big three: great food, great service and great ambience. I believe that today’s diners want a fancy restaurant without the white tablecloth. A bit more rusticity, but still very sophisticated. I am also seeing more and more spit roasting of meats.”
Chef Doug Psaltis, Chef/Co-Owner, RPM Steakhouse, Chicago
“Most of our customers come here for a great steak. More and more diners going forward will insist on the finest quality when they splurge on steak. I envision more operations adding their own capability for house-baked breads. We offer a small round pan of excellent homemade Parker House rolls for $6. Again, if people are going to splurge on bread, they will insist upon a fine product.”
Executive Chef Ryan Nolan, Mahoney’s, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
“To remain successful over the long term, I predict that chefs are going to have to rely more and more on dishes that appeal to their demographics rather than trying to keep up with whatever is hot on the Coasts. What works in large cosmopolitan areas does not translate well in every region of the country.
“Going back to the basics and doing them well is important to me. I graduated from the CIA, and opened a fine dining restaurant here called Water City Grill. After a few years, I realized that most diners in
Oshkosh aren’t looking for the white tablecloth experience. Mahoney’s has a more casual ambience. I am drawn to whatever reminds me of hearth and home, and I think my customers are as well.”
Paul Young, Reinhart Midwest Division Chef, Milwaukee/Chicago
“Organic, local, certified and sustainable are all factors that will continue to flourish in 2016. Customers are interested in the ‘Better for me’ approach. People are more health conscious and aware of where their food is coming from than ever before. This really puts the spotlight on the more ‘boutique’ restaurants that specialize in these areas.
“More and more artisanal homemade breads will surface, made with unique flavors. I foresee smaller, more focused menus that incorporate fresh, interesting items to differentiate from the competition.
“Cocktails are taking off like never before. Big waves are being made with innovative ingredients and garnishes, such as toasted orange rind, ice spheres and molecular foam. People are once again ready to invest money in the experience of eating and drinking at the hottest place in town.”
Heather Porter-Engwall, Director of National Product Communications, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
“Customers will pay even more attention to the source of their food. Sixty two percent are more likely to purchase foods described on the menu as ‘local.’ The definition of local will continue to expand to include everything from produce to cheese from Wisconsin as opposed to imported. Locally sourced ingredients are mentioned on menus at 39 percent of casual restaurants, and 53 percent of customers report eating local food more than once a week.
“The breakfast segment is the fastest growing meal at foodservice. Morning restaurant visits are up five percent, and seven out of ten customers prefer restaurants that serve breakfast all day. Millennials are a key demographic here. Nearly one third believe that any time is a good time for a breakfast sandwich. Servings of breakfast sandwiches are up four percent. We’re seeing those sandwiches complemented by a trend toward more flavorful specialty cheeses. The fastest growing cheeses on breakfast menus are Romano, Pepper Jack, Fontina, Mascarpone and Provolone.
“Ethnic dishes, especially those with spice and heat, are adding fresh, natural cheeses as a balance. These include Queso Fresco, Ricotta Salata, Queso Blanco and Chihuahua.
The fastest growing cheeses across all menus, with a growth of 20 percent over the past year, include Enchilada, Emmentaler, Queso Fresco and Panela.”