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    Delving deep into some of the food trends for 2024 and beyond

    PUBLISHED: 21/02/2024

    When you work in hospitality it’s so important to understand the latest food trends, both from a consumer and chef perspective as some of the emerging trends will have an impact on restaurants in several years’ time. Chefs need to stay ahead of the game in terms of food and drink trends, so they are developing menus that meet the needs of the modern-day consumer.
    At the start of each year, we make sure we read up on and learn about the latest trends and food forecasts so that we can guide our clients on the right equipment and kitchen designs to help them meet their future needs.

    We’ve picked six topics that are already being talked about this year.

    Cost of living

    With the cost-of-living challenges everyone is still facing, consumers are looking for more when dining out, but chefs need to be able to balance their books. We’re seeing chefs having to create more concise menus potentially with less expensive products to enable them to serve up dishes that diners will love, but at a price they can afford. Chefs are having to be more creative than ever with seasonal ingredients and many are using the same equipment throughout courses to save time and money.

    AI on the rise

    In the news, we are constantly hearing talk of AI but how much is this being used in hospitality? It’s becoming more valuable in terms of front of house, however, it’s less mainstream in kitchens. There are now more opportunities for chefs to take advantage of connectivity which allows them to manage their kitchens more effectively and drive efficiencies. With every single penny needing to be accounted for, connectivity can save chefs time, not only when working but also in reducing downtime as any issues with equipment can be detected and resolved. We are able to chat to chefs about how we can create a connected kitchen. Previously connectivity has focused on ovens but now we are seeing it across all appliances including refrigeration and ware washing. These tools are really valuable in terms of raising issues which could cause disruption to a service or impact the opening of a business.

    Plant-based is plateauing

    One of the hot topics in the trends articles during January was whether the plant-based revolution is plateauing. This is something that we are also seeing but there is still a consumer demand for flexibility in menu choices – both vegan and meat. A vegan restaurant in Macclesfield has announced they will be adding meat dishes to their menus in order to stay open whilst Pret a Manger has revealed it will axe its final three vegetarian only stores and swap them to normal outlets.

    When designing kitchens, we need to be mindful of how chefs can create separate workstations or space for creating both meat and vegan options. Allergens is something else we would consider when designing a kitchen as a client may need separate friers or other equipment for gluten-free and gluten containing dishes.

    Comfort food

    Comfort food is one of the trends talked about in The Food People Trends Hub and this is covered in a variety of ways including retro dining, hand-held gourmet and flame grilled cooking. We saw the trend for flame grilled cooking when working on the Origin restaurant last year as we built into the design an impressive BBQ grill which the diners can see whilst eating, adding an element of theatre to the kitchen. However, reports are that this trend is going way beyond the burgers and meat dishes, with plants also taking centre stage on the BBQ. There’s even been a rise in desserts created via this traditional cooking method. Chefs are becoming more creative in the techniques they use.

    Food health

    The interest in food health continues and Netflix shows such as ‘You Are What You Eat – A Twin Experiment’ and ‘Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zone’ help drive this. We are seeing an increase in lighter options on menus so that chefs are meeting the needs of all customers. Our client, Neat Burger has announced that they will rebrand as a healthier option and expand their menu to include salads and ciabatta. The aim is to encourage customers to visit every day rather than as an occasional treat.

    Protecting the planet

    Sustainability continues to be an important word across hospitality and particularly for the larger organisations and contract caterers. We’ve always been able to support our clients with providing energy efficient equipment but now it’s about every aspect of the food process. Reducing food waste is talked about much more widely with chefs getting creative and using up every element of an ingredient. More equipment is also being developed for kitchens that either prolong the life of food or break down food waste so it can be disposed of in a way that helps the planet.

    Want to know more?

    If you want to know more about any of the trends we have talked about or to learn how equipment or kitchen design can help you meet the needs of your customers, please get in touch.