Even though it’s August, school is about to begin, or has already begun in some regions. It’s the beginning of a new year for K-12 students, but it’s also a great time to recharge the menu not only in school cafeterias, but in restaurants, the corporate environment, and more. Because we’ve been in the school foodservice management business for decades, we like to share what we’ve learned and our thoughts on student dining services, retail restaurants, and other areas focused on food trends, health and wellness, and what people like to eat.
Naturally K-12 students like certain foods and others, not so much. With retail restaurants, it’s obvious by television commercials and social media, the options are changing – some substantially, others subtly. Even slight changes help recharge your menu; for instance, offering Buffalo seasoning for chicken and burgers in addition to the traditional mustard, ketchup, and mayo. It’s all about striking a balance so that it’s possible for operators to please the majority of diners or customers.
People are snacking more often in America, and we’re not talking about a banana mid-morning. One segment of the population, millennials, are becoming more interested in adding ethnic snacks to their diets and enjoying empanadas, Italian spiedini, Indian dosas and other options, as opposed to eating a full meal.
Operators are taking their menus up a notch by offering condiments that give a different flavor to burgers, chicken, vegan wraps and other menu options. To set your menu apart think Filipino banana ketchup, chakalaka, Serbian ajvar, and other condiments and sauces influenced by Asian, Latin, and South African countries.
Restaurants and corporate dining often have what are referred to as “limited time offers,” dishes that are only available during a specific window of time. This is often related to what foods are available, the produce that’s in season, and other factors. Many consumers today are attracted to farm-to-table, so using locally sourced produce and ingredients that are in season makes the menu even more appealing, while helping operators cut costs.
A healthy trend we’ve noticed is that veggies are being moved to the center of the plate and are grilled, charred, roasted, and prepared in the way you would expect seafood, chicken, or beef to be prepared. Infused with flavor, veggies can and are becoming the center of the meal. Think roasted radishes, spicy buffalo radishes – anything you can do with meat or seafood to infuse flavor, you can also do with vegetables whether asparagus, potatoes, radishes, broccoli, or a host of others.
All of this serves to inspire those who operate K-12 cafeterias, corporate dining, retail restaurants, and other food facilities to make waves with their menus and give a refreshing new twist to dining.
For all of your contract food services needs, count on Gourmet Services, Inc. to deliver excellence.