For many of us, 2020 has us looking forward to fall. The anticipation of cooler weather and the comfort foods that come with the season is good for the soul. But for those of us in food service, comfort foods can, and should always offer something a little different. Something that keeps customers hungry for more. That’s why we’ve hunted down the best food trends right now for you to incorporate into your seasonal menus. From African spices to all things pickled, these fresh ideas will not only wow your taste buds they may help the environment too.
We’re more adventurous eaters today than just a few years ago thanks in part to culinary “mashups.” Take something familiar, like macaroni and cheese, and infuse it with a global spice or condiment that makes it new and exciting. Sriracha, anyone? People, especially Millenials and Gen Z, are hungry for more global foods. In fact, 68% of Millennials and Gen Z have gone out of their way to try a novel global food.
This fall, spice blends from all over the world, but especially Africa, are adding unique flavors to dishes in the US. Here are a few to inspire your own flavorful mashups:
This Ethiopian spice blend combines chili, garlic, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, nigella, fenugreek, and ajwain to pack heat and flavor. It’s traditionally used in meat dishes and stews making it perfect for the fall season!
Ras El Hanout
This Moroccan spice’s name can be translated to “Top of Shop”. Legend states that North African spice merchants would make the blend by combining the best they had to offer. It commonly contains aromatic, warm, and sharp spices like cinnamon, cumin, coriander, allspice, black pepper, and ginger but can also contain some unusual ingredients; such as dried lavender, caraway, galangal, dried rosebuds, or Japanese white ginger. This fall, try it as a rub for lamb, turkey, or roast chicken.
This fish marinade is popular in Moroccan and North African dishes. It’s a combination of cilantro, garlic, parsley, saffron, cumin and cayenne, and usually made into a flavorful paste or relish. For fall use it in a Moroccan dish called mqualli, made with layers of potatoes, tomatoes, fish and peppers.
These days there’s more than just beer on tap. Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that has become popular due to its health benefits including high levels of antioxidants and probiotics. Now we’re seeing not only Kombucha but other drinks like craft soda and iced coffee on tap.
But fermentation extends beyond beverages. With pickled items now on 29% of US menus, it would seem Americans are obsessed with bitter. Many credit the farm to table movement with this trend and a growing interest in old fashioned skills like canning and pickling. But pickling also allows chefs to reduce food waste and preserve produce at the peak of the harvest season.
Look for items like kimchi, housemade pickles and pickled red onions to be used in popular dishes like street tacos, fried chicken sandwiches, curries, and rice bowls.
Fixing Food Waste
Consumers are becoming more aware and concerned about food waste in the US. It’s estimated that 4-10% of food purchased in restaurants is discarded before it ever reaches a guest. Your food service operation is actually throwing away money! For environmental and financial reasons it’s time to figure out how to reduce food waste.
Consider offering seasonal menus. Using ingredients that are in season shortens the time from the field to the kitchen which can reduce spoilage. Look for ways to offer the perishable items throughout your menus so they aren’t wasted.
Many commonly discarded items can be used instead of thrown away. Trimmings from onions, carrots, and parsley can be used to make vegetable stock. Meat trimming can be used in fillings or appetizers. For items that must be thrown away consider starting a composting program. There may be a local environmental program that would collect and use the compost.
Finally, control portion sizes by offering different serving sizes. This also gives guests control over how much they want to eat. Train your staff to monitor plate waste, too. If certain dishes often go unfinished it may be a good indicator that adjustments to portioning can be made.
Which fall food trend are you most excited to try? We hope you’ll find ways to incorporate these fall food trends into your menus. If you’re looking for a food services partner that’s always on-trend and seeking sustainable solutions look no further than Top Nosh. Whether you’re looking to update your office cafeteria or outsource your dining room, we can do it all. Contact us today to get the conversation started.