Special treatments can add price point appeal.
Nobody ever said diners weren't schizophrenic. They want healthy food, but then how to explain the runaway popularity of fried pickles and fried candy bars? Simply put, today's diner wants it all. These fried avocados at least have something healthy inside.
Luxury can be achieved with just a few sweet somethings on the menu. Check out Chocolate for Breakfast (The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection; hardcover $40.00), a cookbook by Barbara Passino of Napa Valley's Oak Knoll Inn for how chocolate can fit into any daypart (chocolate tacos, chocolate pasta, etc.)
During the 2000s, people became comfortable with the look and feel of sushi. Now, cute, small bites of just about anything are a hit. Portion control also comes to mind here.
Loco for Local
Diners are looking for not just local, sustainable ingredients, but also local traditions. Here's Sodexo's look at regional favorites on college campuses around the country.
South Central: Red Beans and Rice
Midwest: Homestyle Roast Beef
Northwest: Classic Carved Turkey
Mid Atlantic: Chicken Pot Pie
Northeast: New England Clam Chowder
Southeast: Traditional Meatloaf
Southwest: Fish Tacos
What exactly is it? Here's the definition from the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo, Wisconsin: Artisan cheeses can be of any variety but involve very small-batch production. Usually they are hand-crafted, with minimal mechanized procedures. Artisan cheesemakers pay particular attention to the unique characteristics of the cheese and traditional cheesemaking methods.
Street foods from around the world will continue in their popularity. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2010 What's Hot report, ethnic inspired breakfast items will be big (Asian-flavored syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut pancakes) along with traditional ethnic breakfast items (huevos rancheros, Japanese breakfast items)
Farm to Plate
Farmers are the new stars of the food world. Show where your food comes from on simple signage, and see customers' eyes light up.
Chef-instructor Peggy Ryan, daytime executive chef of The Dining Room at Kendall College (an award-winning public restaurant and practicum classroom), regularly takes culinary-arts students shopping at Chicago's Green City Market to instruct on sourcing sustainable ingredients for the lunch menu. Photo by Eric Futran.
This small-but-mighty trend is going strong. For more on these sassy little guys, go to Mini Burgers, BIG Flavors.
Classics Come Back
Hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken and many more “retro” ideas keep coming out with new twists and combine with other trends. Global hot dogs: Try kimchi (Korean), mango chutney (Indian) and even cream cheese (Philly!) as hot dog toppings.
Especially in fun, fizzy beverages, fruits like pomegranate, acai, blueberry, raspberry and blackberry blended with herbs like basil, thyme and sage are hot. Expect more drinks to be sweetened with nectars as well.