It’s that time of year again when we all make our lists for what we believe will be the trends for next year. For 2015, expect to see restaurant and foodservice operators go for smaller, fresher, healthier items, and creating everything from scratch. From homemade catsup to house-brewed beer and wine, operators are taking “local” to literally right in their own kitchens.

Technology will also play a big role in 2015, as many restaurants will begin to use touch-screens and other devices, as well as operators looking for creative ways to use social media sites and other high-tech gadgetry to attract a new generation of diners – Generation Z.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto believes the following food and drink trends will happen in 2015:

Everything will be made in-house

Expect to see more and more restaurants creating their own in-house sauces like catsup, mustard, hot sauce, mayonnaise and other popular condiments. Many restaurant and foodservice operators will also be going completely local, meaning that everything they serve in their restaurant will be sourced from within a 50 to 100 mile radius of their operation.

Flavour explosion

Diners’ palates are becoming more and more sophisticated as time goes by, so chefs will be infusing their menus with more exciting flavours that will burst in your mouth. Expect to see hot peppers, liquid smoke, and fermented pastes like gochujang – a Korean fermented paste made of red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt – in many dishes. Also expect to see chefs using umami-flavour enhancers like dashi and fish sauce to replace regular salt.

Instagram ready

Now that taking photos of your food and posting to social media seems like the de rigueur thing to do, restaurants will be thinking of the most creative ways to present their dishes. It’s time to get rid of all your traditional white round or square plates, and look for more inventive ways to serve your dish so that it will garner many more “likes” on the internet (and potentially draw more people into your operation).

Share plates

You’ll definitely see a shift in the way restaurants set up their menus this year. Gone will be the traditional “starter/entrée/dessert” format. Instead, menus will be divided into small and large share plates. This allows diners to try several different dishes, and also not overeat. The share plate is also ideal for customers who have different dietary restrictions as each small plate could feature a gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan dish, offering more variety.

Meatless Mondays or more days

Burgers, head-to-tail eating and crazy cuts of meats have been topping the trends list for the past decade, but more and more people are now craving dishes that feature no meat. Expect to see restaurants featuring several more vegetarian or vegan dishes on their menu. And restaurants should expect to see more and more customers ordering or requesting them.

Customized menus

Today’s society is now accustomed to getting anything they want instantly. Watching any movie or listening to any song is simply a button away. Shopping for clothes or home furnishings can all be fully customized to suit your exact needs and tastes. So why would eating at a restaurant be any different? Expect to see some restaurants offering fully customizable menus, where diners can create their own dishes using a list of ingredients available.

Chicken is cool

With the price of beef and pork skyrocketing this year, expect to see chicken to overtake menus as the go-to meat, especially free-range chickens. From buttermilk fried chicken to chicken-fried steak to Portuguese roast chicken to wood-fired rotisserie chicken, we’ll be seeing (and eating) way more chicken this year.

Generation Z

The next generation after the Millennials is now old enough to go out by themselves to eat and spend money. Generation Z is the most ethically diverse group, which translates to the fact that they are all familiar with all types of ethnic foods. Generation Z will be looking for food that features a fusion of several ethnic groups and will not be afraid to try anything. This group is also the most high tech, having never lived life without Xbox, iPads or Facebook. Restaurants will need to focus this year on how to market to this generation that is used to having things they want immediately and done exactly how they want them.

Crafty beverages

Craft brew pubs and craft beer have been popping up in cities and menus for the past few years, but 2015 will see a true emergence in craft everything in beverage menus. Not only will restaurants and bars have a long list of craft beers, but they will also feature craft wines, whiskeys, vodkas and other liquors. Also expect to see more craft cocktails made from house-made bitters, syrups and grenadine, hand-carved ice, and hand-muddled fruits. Some operations will feature cocktails that are more complicated to make than the food menu! For non-alcoholic beverages, expected to see more handcrafted sodas, freshly squeezed juices and healthy smoothies on menus.

E-ordering

Many restaurant chains are planning to roll out e-ordering – where customers can order and pay for their food using a tablet at their table. To speed up service, many chains will also have an app whereby customers can pre-order their food ahead of time using their phone, so that their food is ready when they arrive.

Author

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. She is recognized as one of the best restaurant consultants in Canada and the U.S. Diane is an industry leader in providing innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or chiasson@chiassonconsultants.com or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com