HOSPITALITY Eclectic menus Chefs are using niche ingredients to create stand-out menus Horizons’ latest Menu Trends report reveals that British menus are becoming increasingly eclectic >> Chefs are increasingly turning to niche ingredients in a bid to offer customers something different, according to a new report. While burgers and steak may still be the most frequently listed items on British menus, dishes from Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Vietnamese cuisines are having a strong influence on the foods sold by high street operators, says foodservice consultancy Horizons. Its latest Menu Trends report reveals that British menus are becoming increasingly eclectic. Some of the newest ingredient trends picked up by the survey include the wheat-free, grain-like superfood quinoa, the use of which has doubled on menus since winter 2014. South American seeds have also become more widely used including amaranth and chai seeds, which have a delicate nutty flavour and a high nutritional value. The menu at All Bar One is offering a Vietnamese-inspired open sandwich ‘banh mi’ with grilled chicken, pickled carrot, sweet chilli and mouli, while the Middle Eastern flatbread ‘khobez’ is now on the menus at three high street brands. “Many of these trends have been picked up and adapted from street vendors and small independent operators, particularly the more innovative, easy-to- eat hand-held dishes,” commented Horizons’ analyst Nicola Knight. “It’s clear that operators are working hard to offer customers something new and interesting, often including so-called super-food ingredients which satisfy diners keen to eat healthily,” she added. The twice-yearly Menu Trends survey also reveals that Mediterranean-inspired dishes are on the up too – kebabs, for example, are 50% more likely to be listed on menus compared with last year, chickenisation continuation! >> We’ve highlighted the trend for chicken as a key ingredient over the past few years, however it is worth highlighting the new developments in chicken as a key protein. There has been a continued rise in the importance of chicken, as it appeals to so many consumers on so many different levels, including those who we would describe as Food Pleasure Seekers. The new variations and styles of chicken have created new appeal, and these include: Korean Fried Chicken: breaded chicken breast, double fried for crispiness, served with kimchi (the very tasty Korean fermented cabbage) and covered in a sticky chilli sauce, as seen at www.jubolondon.com Southern American Fried Chicken: new takes on the classics, which are being elevated to fine dining status in restaurants like www.lockhartlondon.com but are also being served in new ways such as at Red’s True BBQ where the southern fried chicken is covered in waffle crumb Japanese Chicken: panko breadcrumbs used to cover chicken breasts, fried and then served with a curry sauce to deliver a Katsu chicken dish, as seen widely in Wasabi and Yo!Sushi Then there is the multitude of chicken dishes that are being served by street food traders, such as: Bill or Beak: Grilled corn-fed chicken topped with an anchovy and lemon Caesar dressing, garlic and rosemary croutons, tempura capers and finished off with fresh parmesan in a toasted brioche bun BBQ Dreamz: Filipino take on BBQ, with a lemongrass chicken stew Spit & Roast: specialising in buttermilk-fried chicken, their buns include: Free range Suffolk chicken marinated in buttermilk, deep fried to golden perfection in a secret Louisiana style coating. Mississippi style slaw and a Korean hot sauce, served on a Japanese style bun. 22 NOV / DEC 2015 while the skewer-grilled souvlaki has also become more widely served. Houmous alternatives are more in evidence including skordalia (made with garlic and pureed potatoes, nuts or soaked bread) and favetta (broad beans with olive oil). The use of popping candy has also hit the mainstream in both sweet and savoury versions. “In 2010 it was virtually unheard of, but its use has grown 170% year-on-year as operators look to add some novelty to dishes and give their customers something to talk about. The trend was started by celebrity chefs such as Heston Blumenthal to offer their diners a taste and sensory experience,” says Nicola Knight. Other findings from Menu Trends included: • Beef burgers are the most frequently listed item on a menu, up 41% since summer 2014, although their average weight has decreased • Rib eye and fillet steaks have seen a rise in popularity although they have risen in price and decreased in weight • Chicken burgers and vegetable burgers are up 73% and 20% • Brioche has become the bread of choice, up 67% since last year, particularly served with burgers and hot dogs • The use of ethical terminology in describing dishes has risen 10% year-on-year suggesting it has become even more important to customers • 63% of operators use the terminology ‘allergy’ or ‘allergen’ on their menus, up 4% since winter 2014 • Gluten-free descriptions have risen 23% since winter 2014 • Curry appears to be making a comeback, up 31% year-on-year but with a new pan-Asian twist.
Stir it up magazine November December 2015
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