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Our Writers Predict Hits & Misses for 2019: Part 4

Our Writers Predict Hits & Misses for 2019: Part 4

Photo: Spacious, a New York-based, start-up company, partners with dinner-only restaurants when they’re closed and converts them into collaborative work spaces. (Photo by: Spacious)

Erica Bethe Levin’s Top 10 trends include the ‘new culinary rock stars,’ restaurants as co-working spaces.

Erica Bethe Levin is a food writer, entrepreneur and hospitality consultant. When she was 24, she founded Chicago's largest online magazine for women, CheekyChicago. She also launched the Chicago market for Reserve, a table management system backed by the co-founder of Uber, and is currently the director of sales for a hospitality group. These are her predictions for the new year.

Goodbye, fake meat; hello, vegetables.

Instead of restaurants offering meat alternatives like tofu, tempeh and seitan, fresh vegetables will become the star of the show. With so many hearty veggies that can be seasoned to taste like meat and can stand up to grilling, braising and frying, it only makes sense. You’ll start to see cauliflower, beans, lentils, mushrooms, legumes and jackfruit as the center of the plate.

Nutritionists/dietitians/trainers are the new “culinary rock stars.”

Chefs have been in the spotlight for a very long time now, having reached major celeb status. With a trend towards wellness, however, experts combining food with health and fitness will start to attract their own following. Morning shows and daytime television are constantly giving these gurus air time and followers are eating them up (pun intended).

Probiotics, prebiotics and gut health

We’ve been hearing about probiotics for years. The live bacteria that’s actually good for your digestive system can be found in yogurt, kefir and fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut. But this might be the year of the prebiotic. Prebiotics basically feed the good bacteria (probiotics) in your gut, hence the pre part. Prebiotics can be found in raw leeks, raw garlic, raw asparagus, raw or cooked onions and jicama. Look for prebiotics listed on menus and highlighted in grocery stores.

Cannibis-infused food, drink, candy, beer and more

Partisanship aside, cannabis is everywhere. We can shop for weed candy (almost) as easily as we shop for shoes or parsley. Though gummies have been popular for medicinal and recreational purposes for a while now, look for cannabis-infused culinary treats like high-end cookies, brownies, sodas and even beer.

The continued rise of fast casual restaurants

In a world where we need 25 hours a day to accomplish what we used to in eight, eating good food quickly (note: NOT fast food) is as important as ever. Fast casual restaurants with healthy and eclectic options are on the rise. You’ll start seeing more sweetgreens, Lyfe Kitchens and Protein Bars, plus numerous competitors wanting to enter the lucrative and ever-growing space.

Grocery stores will rise again.

Meal kits and pre-made foods have become the rage in recent years, but I’m predicting that the ceremony of compiling a grocery list, walking through the aisles, shopping for dinner, and cooking at home will make a comeback. It doesn’t hurt that there are bars in many grocery stores; people are now more inclined to make a date or solo journey out of it.

Restaurants as co-working space

Razor-thin margins in restaurants are a real thing. If there’s an opportunity to increase profits, operators will jump at the chance. With co-working spaces popping up everywhere, utilizing restaurants as work space during off-hours is going to be a huge thing. It’s a win-win for the co-working companies looking for hip locales, the members desiring a cool place to work and the restaurants who wouldn’t be making any money at that time anyway.

Oat milk gets the spotlight.

We’ve been bombarded by marketing for every kind of milk alternative: almond milk, coconut milk, lactose-free milk, soy milk, rice milk, the list goes on. Oat milk is the newest, hottest, non-dairy option. The “milk” that results from soaking oats in water is available for purchase in grocery stores and is already appearing as an option at coffee shops like La Colombe.


There was a time we never thought we’d spend $15 on a cocktail. Now, you can spend $15 on a mocktail. Beverage experts and chefs alike are starting to create inventive, flavor-filled non-alcoholic drinks for those who choose not to imbibe, those that can’t imbibe or for kids who want to feel a little bit grown up.

Bugs as protein

It may gross you out, but entomophagy (insect-eating) is already making waves in the culinary world. Chefs are embracing this sustainable food source commonly consumed across the globe. Crickets, beetles, caterpillars and termites are considered lean protein, but they lack the hormones or antibiotics we find in a lot of our meats. Not only will you see bugs appearing on restaurant menus, but you can make cookies and muffins at home with cricket powder.

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  • Author: Erica Bethe Levin
  • Posted: December 03, 2018
  • Categories: Trending Now