Single-focus concepts do one thing and do it well
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Datassential found that 46 percent of consumers would visit a restaurant that specializes in only one thing. Interest in global influences has taken eaters from “I want to try Chinese food” to “I want the best soup dumplings this town has to offer!” With the idea that limits foster creativity, more and more hot new concepts are making a go of making one item: For example, Boise Fry Co. offers six types of potato in five different cuts with lots of dipping sauces.
Next level of mash-ups
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While “fusion” is generally thought of as the F word in the culinary world, that doesn’t mean the idea of mixing up two wildly different cultures is a bad thing. In fact, it’s super hot right now. Restaurants like Kimski (Korean + Polish) in Chicago, Shalom Japan (Jewish + Japanese) in NYC and Milkwood (Asian + Southern) in Louisville are creating interesting dishes like matzo ball ramen.
Vegan junk food to crave
Just because consumers are seeking out more plant-based food choices doesn’t mean the siren song of burgers and nachos has been silenced. The numbers from Datassential speak to that reality: 55 percent of consumers love steak; 5 percent love tofu. So creating plant-based dishes that touch on those genetic junk-food receptors have the opportunity to score big, since 44 percent of consumer are trying to eat less meat, according to Datassential. “Make plant-based foods sexy,” Kostyo suggests, pointing out the beautiful cutting board of veggies at Chicago’s Clever Rabbit.
Spent grains just getting started
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Since food waste and sustainability are more on the forefront now than ever in foodservice, products like veggie chips and granola bars are seen by consumers as virtuous when they’re made using spent beer grains.
High hopes for the cannabis market
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While some may still consider marijuana strictly Cheech and Chong territory and nothing more, but with recreational pot legalized in a growing number of states, many chefs, bakers and candy makers are proving that edible weed can be pure sophistication. “There’s still a huge stigma that associates people in the cannabis industry with overgrown teenagers doing bong rips in their parents’ basement, but it couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Rachel Burkons, co-founder of Altered Plates, a culinary cannabis collective that caters high-minded events. Milk made with hemp (pictured) and CBD cold-brew coffee are firing things up on the beverage side.