May's Featured Expert: Russ Blakeborough
Restaurant Trends: What's Hot in 2017
Cuisine – The trends are leaving overly manipulated food and moving to simpler, cleaner preparations with lighter food; but with flavors that are bold and edgy.
Here are a few trends we keep seeing – things that we will see more of:
- Chef-centered concepts
- Locally sourced, but not necessarily organic or health foods
- Reasonable portions – walk away satiated but where you can still walk!
- Underutilized meats and seafood – rebirthed with sexier names
- Exotic grains and seeds
- House-made ingredients – from pickles to condiments, charcuterie and beyond. Let the Chef create!
- Ethnic spices, ingredients and fused dishes
- Sustainable seafood [but really this time!]
- Lightly sweet, sometimes savory and smaller sized desserts
- Grown-up street food
- Still more forms of bacon, which continues to dominate the taste buds
- Healthful kid meals, but ones that are still attractive to kids
- All day breakfast-inspired meals
- Shared plates designed for grazing
- Take home kits – all you need to cook at home
Beverage – The art of crafted cocktails continues to grow, but with an emphasis on the individual bartender’s skills and passion. These passionate individuals are hard to come across and are almost chef-like in their approach to the art of mixing and of blending flavors.
Trends to look out for:
- Barrel aged in-house
- Flavored [but not sweet] beers
- Dessert cocktails for after dinner – or not!
- Better wine apps – leading to more thoughtful and appropriate menus and pricing
- Boutique rums continue to grow
- Food components as ingredients – cucumber, fennel, tomato, herbs
- Spicy or sharp cocktail ingredients – cayenne, chili, wasabi
- Lunch drink cocktails are back – for a light afternoon pick-me up
- Quality boxed wine makes a comeback
Restaurants – New concepts are tending to be specific in design, yet vague in menu. Meaning that new concepts tend to be an adventure, telling a story, with a style, feel and design of a cuisine that links to the type of style of preparation and ingredients of the food and décor, but are still broad in the menu choices. They are using a mix of authentic dishes, fused dishes and having the key ingredients laced throughout the menu – appealing to all.
Trends to watch:
- Native American Fusion
- Basque Cuisine
- Hawaiian influenced menu items
- Southern Nouvelle
- Gluten free and meat free – without being touted
- Delivery – restaurants struggle to incorporate the growing demand for delivery service into their daily business model
- Hotel restaurants are making a come-back
- Ingredient terms: burnt, bubbly
Styles – Light and airy seems to be the design of choice, with little clutter and clean lines. Natural elements adorn the walls and table-tops. White is the color of choice with splashes of color.
Service – Genuine, authentic and knowledgeable service staff. We are seeing a new breed of wait-staff – great news, Bohemian is in. The lifestyles fit together and we are experiencing a resurgence of passionate and skilled servers emerge into the restaurant scene. Along with tattoos, piercings and larger than life characters!
Two fun concepts to look out for:
- Chefs at your table – a modern twist on the classical style, tableside cooked meal
- Guest immersion – entertainment in the restaurant; movies, singing, poetry, vignettes, who-done-its, even gaming
More about Russ:
Russ Blakeborough has 25+ years of experience with international hotel companies in both culinary arts and division management as a chef, F&B director and director of operations - with experience in the luxury resorts and business hotels in Europe, the Caribbean and the United States.
At Focus - F&B, Russ’s focus is on improving food and beverage at your hotel or restaurant. He has the tools and resources for cost-effective and immediate improvement. While the focus is primarily food and beverage, he also has experience in all operational departments of hotels. Domestic or international visits available.
Russ, originally from England, now resides in the U.S. in beautiful Savannah, Georgia.