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2017 Food Trends- Ethnic Cuisine

In our last “Trendy Tuesday” segment, we will focus on ethnic cuisine. Foods like tacos, spaghetti, and fried rice have been a mainstay in the United States for a long time. While these foods have gained popularity throughout the years, cuisines such as Mediterranean and Korean have taken center stage. As our country’s taste buds have developed, ethnic cuisine continuously trend upwards.

Multiple Ethnic Cuisine Trends

Although ethnic flavors have risen in popularity in the past century, Americans demand more. According to the National Restaurant Association’s annual trend list, authenticity ranks in the top ten. As ethnic flavors gain popularity, consumers demand authenticity. Customers no longer desire the American spaghetti, they demand the version an Italian grandmother would prepare for her family. Also included in the NRA’s list is African cuisine. African cuisine showcases simply, flavorful dishes including large quantity or rice, cooked meats and vegetables. Many African dishes are very transparent, a possible reason as to why Americans now flock to the cuisine.

Ethnic spices just missed the top ten, ranking 11 in the overall poll. Popular ethnic spices include harissa, curry, za’atar and turmeric. These spices all originate from Africa and the Middle East.  These spices could be the result of “migratory meals”. Food Business News states that as refugees from the Middle East and Africa make way to the United States they bring their food and flavors with them. Many of these immigrants have opened small restaurants showcasing their heritage. Americans cannot get enough of these flavors, certainly causing the upward spike in trendy ethnic cuisines.

Ethnic Meals and Dishes

The world is huge, giving way to a multitude of different ethnic meals and dishes. Although Americans know fried chicken as an American comfort dish, cultures across the globe render versions of their own. Perdue Foodservice claims that the Koreans, Indians and Japanese all have a different take on fried chicken. The Koreans fry ethnic cuisine- shakshukathe chicken twice, Indians sauté their chicken in yogurt sauce after frying and the Japanese deep fry bite size pieces. While these dishes all include fried chicken, each cuisine flavors the iconic dish to taste their own. Also growing in popularity among American consumers is the rise of ethnic breakfasts. Americans now desire ethnic flavors on breakfast menus including Spanish chorizo and Mediterranean shakshuka. These dishes put an ethnic spin on their breakfast favorites.  In fact, ethnic breakfast is so trendy; the NRA rates this 6 in their top ten trend list.

Ethnic cuisine wraps up our four week “Trendy Tuesday” segment. Encompassed into one large trend, ethnic flavors have segments of their own. As certain cuisines like African and Middle Eastern continue to grow in popularity, many ethnic breakfasts have made their way to menus. As the year continues, try adding ethnic spices and flavors to your menu. You will certainly be a hit to your trendy customers.

end food waste

2017 Food Trends- Food Waste Reduction

The third installation into our Trendy Tuesday segment will focus on food waste in restaurants. Reducing waste is both a top restaurant and top concept trend predicted for 2017. In simple terms, restaurant food waste describes any food or food product thrown out in the restaurant. This waste also extends to take-out, which ends up trashed if not eaten. The skins shaved off of the potato; waste. The leftovers you don’t take home; waste. The garnish on the plate no one eats; waste. This year, restaurants and consumers both look for ways to minimize food waste.

Food Waste Statistics

Food waste divides itself into two categories: pre-consumer waste and post-consumer waste. According to the organization, End Food Waste Now, pre-consumer waste includes trimmings, spoiled food or overproduction. In contrast, post-consumer food includes uneaten leftovers or returned food; essentially any uneaten food that has left the kitchen. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans waste 30-40 percent of the food supply. This equals to about 520 million tons of food from Food Waste Reductionrestaurants each year. Bottom line for restaurants; food waste can kill profit. While some restaurants compost waste, the majority end up in landfills. One might wonder why Americans produce so much waste. Simply put, food waste went almost unnoticed until recently.

Food Waste Solutions

 

Anyone from the government to the consumer can help solve the wasted food problem. In fact, the National Restaurant Association has teamed with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, or FWRA. This partnership strives to reduce waste by increasing donations and diverting unavoidable waste from landfills. Another resolution includes keeping track of tossed plated food, helping to control portions served. This may indicate your kitchen prepares too much food for consumption.  Other solutions include composting, storing food properly to ensure it does not go bad or re-purposing food.

An increasing number of restaurants have started to re-purpose food. In addition, “leftover meals” have helped feed soup kitchens, homeless and hungry. Turning scraps into meals are an easy way to re-purpose what would have become waste. For example, broccoli and cauliflower stems taste great mashed into soups or potatoes. Crusts or day-old bread also make a great crouton. One festival, Feeding the 5,000, partnered with an environmental organization and a Michelin-starred restaurant to reduce waste while feeding the hungry. This program turned many high-end restaurants’ waste from the previous night into enough meals to feed 5,000 for free.

As 2017 continues forward, think about ways your restaurant can reduce waste. While consumers love great deals on food, they now show concern about food waste as well. Many initiatives are in place to help reduce waste and restaurants and consumers alike can take action. For more information on this topic, and how you can help reduce waste, visit www.foodwastealliance.org.