The year in onsite foodservice has been delicious so far, to say the least. Chefs have been providing their customers with authenticity, flavor and nourishment for the soul, in keeping with the hottest food trends of the year. Before we see what the rest of year has in store and move on to the next courses, let’s push our chairs back from the table and review the trends so far that have had a big impact.
1. The wide world of barbecue
Chefs all across the country seem to have Carolina (and Texas and Kansas City….) on their minds. They are going whole hog on barbecue concepts, and taking the time to make them as authentic as possible. This means smokers, wood chips and kitchen staff-turned-pitmasters. The tangy, smoky flavors of all regional American barbecue styles are truly having a moment, leading many to believe that the golden age of barbecue is just around the corner.
2. Chicken and waffles everywhere
A Southern favorite with a fascinating origin story, the delicious duo of chicken & waffles has been gaining menu momentum as the year goes on, as a delicious part of the larger Southern mystique that includes okra, boiled peanuts and cornbread. It’s a dish that’s got it all—room for a chef’s interpretation, savory, salty and sweet flavors, and the power of comfort food. Onsite chefs have adapted the dish to fit a portable profile for food trucks, and even stretched the definition to include fish for a K-12 application.
3. Food trucks lead the way
When it comes to creative, portable fare, food trucks have pulled up to the intersection of flavor and fun. Trucks that are part of an onsite operation have the opportunity to reach an audience in locations that are underserved, bridge a gap while an existing venue is under construction or simply serve as a monotony breaker on wheels.
4. In search of the next Sriracha
2015 has been the year that Sriracha has really sunk into our collective taste buds. The sweetly hot chili-garlic sauce in the familiar rooster bottle has inspired menu items everywhere from fast casual to fine dining and beyond. However, as soon as something gets that popular, it’s only a matter of time before chefs and foodies are asking, “What’s next?” Hint: It could be gochujang or sambal oelek…
5. Underused fish getting more love
While customers are familiar and comfortable with fish like salmon, cod and tuna, the time is right for underused species like redfish, dogfish and even carp. At the University of Missouri, in Columbia, Executive Chef Eric Cartwright has been working with carp, a very invasive fish, turning its mealy “meat” into chili, fish stews, pasta dishes and more.