Here we speak to Gillian Williamson, Category Manager and Norman Brockwell, Development Chef, both from Team Macphie, about current and future menu trends.
What are the biggest menu trends right now?
Gillian; “The biggest menu trends are probably coming from global cuisine. With travel being so accessible nowadays, combined with a constant stream of cookery programmes on our televisions, the general public have never been so adventurous when it comes to trying new flavours. We see the most prevalent emerging flavour trends as being; Mexican, South American, (particularly Brazilian and Peruvian), and Korean, (The Food People 2012)
What do you see as being the future menu trends?
Norman; “The British public travel and have access to world cuisine on a daily basis and because of this, expectations are high. As a company, we travel the world looking for new flavours and trends which we take back and incorporate into our recipe development. From our recent travels, we think that Vietnamese cuisine is a big up and coming trend and we are now seeing more and more Vietnamese restaurants opening up here in Britain. Vietnamese cuisine is fresh and light, and very appealing to a more health conscious nation.”
“Another trend which we predict will grow and become popular will be South American food. Although Argentinian and Brazilian restaurants have been around for a while, this trend is now more focused towards the less familiar Peruvian cuisine. As with Vietnamese, this food type is very much based on fresh and tasty ingredients with a spicy influence. Healthy ingredients such as chillies, lemons, potato, rice and fish are the building blocks of Peruvian cuisine.”
Gillian; “When it comes to future trends, Allegra (2011) predicts that Mexican and South East Asian cuisine will see the fastest growth over the next 3 – 5 years. Mexican food is expected to grow in popularity by 29% and South East Asian by 24%, however the cuisine type that is predicted to grow the fastest is healthier eating, with a predicted growth of 51%. Getting the balance right between exotic cuisines and healthier eating could be the most important factor in the success of your future menu development.”
How are the classics performing on menus?
Gillian Williamson continues, “Although we see consumers being adventurous, classic staples on menus will always be popular. British and Italian cuisine continues to be the number one choice when eating out.”
“When it comes to global cuisine, Britain just can’t get enough of Italian food. According to Allegra Strategies (How Britain Eats 2011), Italian influenced restaurant chains experienced a healthy 4% growth in number of outlets during 2011. Dishes such as Lasagne, Spaghetti Bolognaise and Pizza are firm favourites on restaurant and pub menus and this trend looks set to continue.”
“British and Italian continue to be number 1 when eating out, (Allegra 2012). Classics such as fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and lasagne are firm favourites especially when moving into the cold winter months.”
Are we seeing any twists or do classics remain classic?
Gillian; “We see the eating out market as has having two distinct areas which include the desire for traditional, comfort dishes juxtaposed with the adventurous new flavours. We also see this trend crossing over into ‘traditional with a twist’. For example, take the traditional pizza. This has been tweaked and given a modern twist by swapping the base with a flatbread and incorporating a Bechamel with Butter sauce base as opposed to a traditional tomato mix. Our chefs have trialled this with customers and it’s a popular choice.” Click here to see Norman creating this simple dish.
When incorporating global flavours, how important is authenticity?
Norman; “Be as authentic as you can wherever possible. Find your nearest specialist supermarket or wholesaler and make the most of it. These places have a fantastic selection of ingredients available for you to buy and experiment with. For example if a Thai recipe calls for Kaffir Lime, try and use a Kaffir Lime if possible, rather than substituting it for a regular lime. Little touches like these will make your menu stand out from the crowd and enable your customers to feel as though they really are getting an authentic eating experience.”
How can chef’s improve margin and still produce tasty, exciting dishes?
Norman; “We see the use cheaper cuts of meat such as pigs cheeks and beef shin, being key to retaining margin and creating delicious dishes. As a result, we will see more slow cooking techniques, marinades, rubs etc to enhance the flavour and soften the meat. What works really well is the combination of a marinade finished with a sauce. It also means the operator can use less sauce as the meat is flavoursome already.”