Cuisine

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: November 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: November 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month’s engaging and informative book selections will help you hone your culinary, cocktail, and leadership skills to dial in your menus and operations.

To review October’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel: A Cookbook

The next time you visit New Orleans, plan to dine at least once at the James Beard Award-winning Shaya. I’ve had the opportunity to do so and the experience was stunning. Of course, you’ll also want to check out Domenica and Pizza Domenica while in NOLA. To give you an idea of what to expect, pick up the Shaya cookbook.

Chef Alon Shaya’s personal journey through cooking is truly unique, embracing Israeli, Italian, and American Southern cuisines. Shaya tells Chef-operator Shaya’s moving story and more than 100 incredible recipes. Pick it up at Amazon.

Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin’ in New Orleans

After moving to New Orleans and working in fine dining, Chef Mason Hereford opened his own restaurant and put his stamp on the scene: Turkey and the Wolf. Both the restaurant and this cookbook focus on creative and enticing takes on Southern cooking.

Fancy deviled-egg tostadas? Fried bologna sandwiches absolutely heaving with potato chips? How about purposely burnt tomato casserole? Well, you’ll find these recipes and 92 others in this book, along with photographs and illustrations. This is sure to get you salivating and get your creative wheels turning. Grab Turkey and the Wolf here on Amazon.

Last Call at Coogan’s: The Life and Death of a Neighborhood Bar

As those of us in the industry know, restaurants and bars are the cornerstones of the communities they serve. Last Call at Coogan’s is the true tale of a neighborhood bar that, unfortunately, closed its doors for good during the pandemic after more than 30 years in operation.

From Amazon: “This book touches on many serious issues facing the country today: race relations, policing, gentrification, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Along the way, readers will meet the bar’s owners and an array of its most colorful regulars.” Purchase here via Amazon.

Spiritual Coffee

Bar co-founder, bartender, brand ambassador, and author Martin Hudak’s informative and exciting cocktail book is available now for purchase. Hudak is one of the brilliant minds behind Sydney destinations Maybe Sammy and Sammy Junior. Also, he’s a brand ambassador for Mr. Black, the ridiculously tasty coffee liqueur.

Spiritual Coffee focuses on coffee cocktails, a passion of Hudak’s. However, you’ll get more than recipes when you purchase this entertaining book. In these pages you’ll also find a wealth of coffee history, knowledge, and stories. Buy here!

The Future Is Analog: How to Create a More Human World

This book, from award-winning author David Sax, asks poignant culture questions about our rush toward a digital world, an undertaking that was supercharged during the pandemic.

“Is our future inevitably digital? Can we reject the downsides of digital technology without rejecting change?” Sax asks. “Can we innovate not for the sake of productivity but for the good of our social and cultural lives? Can we build a future that serves us as humans, first and foremost?” Purchase here via Amazon.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month’s engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level culinary, beverage and marketing skills throughout 2022.

To review February’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef

This book is scheduled to be released on May 17 of this year. I anticipate this cookbook by Chef Kwame Onwuachi, which includes 125 recipes, to come flying off the shelves. In addition to more than 100 recipes, Chef Onwuachi connects his personal journey to food, culture, and places. Pre-order My America now!

Paddy Drinks: The World of Modern Irish Whiskey Cocktails

Jack McGarry, Sean Muldoon, and Jillian Vose are back with their latest Dead Rabbit book. The trio’s latest release, Paddy Drinks, shares Irish whiskey drink recipes you’ll find on the actual Dead Rabbit menu. However, that’s just one portion of this informative book. Inside are whiskey flavor wheels, tasting notes, illustrations depicting whiskey production, and more. And if that’s not enough for you, David Wondrich provides the foreword.

Founder Brand: Turn Your Story Into Your Competitive Advantage

In Founder Brand, Dave Gerhardt explains why your brand’s story is one of the most valuable assets you own as an entrepreneur.

From the Amazon listing: “This is a tactical guidebook that first shows you how to tell your story, then how to put your story to use as a marketing strategy. You’ll learn how social media provides a bridge between you and your customers, the platforms that are appropriate for your business, and how to measure results to truly determine value.”

Finding Mezcal: A Journey into the Liquid Soul of Mexico

You don’t have to be a veteran bartender or spirits expert to know that mezcal continues to rise in popularity. Written by Ron Cooper, founder of artisanal mezcal brand Del Maguey, Finding Mezcal includes 40 cocktail recipes from bartenders and chefs; photographs; Cooper’s own artwork; and much more.

Bar Hacks: Developing The Fundamentals for an Epic Bar

Industry expert and KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey wrote this informative and conversational book. This is the perfect read for aspiring or seasoned bar, pub, lounge, or even restaurant owners, operators, and managers looking for that competitive edge in operations. If you’re looking for both fundamental and in-depth planning methods, strategies, and industry focused insight to either start or grow a scalable, sustainable, memorable, profitable, and consistent venue in today’s cut-throat industry, Bar Hacks is written just for you

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Plant-based Performance is Nuanced

Plant-based Performance is Nuanced

by David Klemt

LikeMeat plant-based burgers in skillet with onions

The World Resources Institute is making the case that the success of plant-based products on-premise will require menu changes.

In particular, changes need to be made menu item descriptions. Drilling down even further, the language we use in descriptions is crucial to performance.

Simply put, just offering recognizable plant-based brands and their products isn’t enough.

Speaking to Guests

When it comes to plant-based food items, there are multiple consumer segments to consider.

For example, there are those who are all-in on plant-based. Targeting this group is easy—promote the fact that you have the products they want.

There’s also the previous group’s counterpart: uninterested in these food items. It’s likely you’re simply never going to convince them to even try plant-based menu items.

Of course, there are the consumers in between. If succeeding with plant-based menu items will translate to more guests engaging with your business, increasing traffic and revenue, speaks to your brand in an authentic way, and matters to the community you serve, these are the guests you need to win over.

But as stated above, simply putting Impossible, Beyond, LikeMeat, or other brands on your menu likely isn’t enough. This is something some fast-casual brands are experiencing. Plant-based performance, as evidence and anecdotes appears to show, is nuanced.

Announcing plant-based alternatives seems to result in a quick rise in sales. However, that initial interest doesn’t appear to last long. And when sales slow an operator either finds themselves sitting on stock, lowering prices, or both.

Again, if succeeding with plant-based items is good for your brand, you’ll need to do some work.

Language Matters

The World Resources Institute (WRI) addressed this topic last week via video presentation. Titled “Messaging that Works: Engaging Diners in Climate Action,” the nearly hour-long video states that language matters for plant-based buy-in.

A study conducted by the WRI found that “nudging” guests with the right messaging boosted plant-based sales. The institute tested ten “framing themes” with ten associated themes.

Two types of messages “came out on top by a long way,” according to presentation host Edwina Hughes:

  • Small change, big impact
  • Joining a movement

Per the WRI’s study, those two themes resulted in around double the demand for plant-based items as other themes.

The first theme speaks to a person’s personal agency, or their actions and the impact they can have on their own lives.

Joining a movement relates to social norms. In particular, suggesting something is a movement tells someone that there are like-minded people already engaged with this concept, product, lifestyle, etc.

Putting this to Use

Menu descriptions, table talkers, POS messaging, and social media can all play a role. Again, this is only if this is important to your brand and guests. If plant-based menu items aren’t authentic to your business, the “Small change, big impact” messaging may not be of interest to you.

For operators who want to succeed with plant-based items, the WRI presentation suggests a “nudge.” In relation to the first theme from above, the process would be:

  • Personal empowerment statement: A person can have a positive impact on the environment.
  • Easily attainable action: Substitute one meat-based meal for a plant-based one.
  • Easily understood personal outcome: A positive result that can come from their purchase.

When it comes to the movement theme, operators can use the following nudge, provided by the WRI as an example during their presentation:

“Ninety percent of Americans [size and/or relevance of group] making the change to eat less meat [group’s behavior] choose plant-based dishes that have less impact [call to action].”

Plant-based menu items aren’t really a trend anymore, but they’re also not quite mainstream. If they’re going to perform stronger in the QSR and other segments, they’ll need better messaging.

Additional Takeaway

The lessons learned from WRI’s presentation aren’t limited to the performance of plant-based menu items. Nudges can work for all manner of products in all types of concepts.

When you look at your menu with a truly critical eye, ask yourself:

  • Does it have attention-grabbing descriptions?
  • Do the descriptions accurately describe the items?
  • Would you be swayed by your descriptions?
  • Are there any calls to action?

If you can’t answer yes to most or all of those, your menu would likely benefit from revisions.

Your menu isn’t just a catalogue of food, drinks, and prices. Rather, it’s a powerful sales and marketing tool. Take the time to leverage it accordingly.

Image: LikeMeat on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Global Cuisine Performance

Global Cuisine Performance

by David Klemt

Cook making handmade pasta noodles

We don’t have a crystal ball to help us see which cuisines will be most popular. Obviously, the same holds true for knowing which are just now getting recognition.

However, we do have the next-best thing: data from Datassential.

Recently, the food and beverage analytics firm ranked dozens of global cuisines according to their current state of popularity among diners.

Then, they shared that information in October during their “Around the World in 80 Trends” webinar.

“Ubiquity”

When analyzing food and beverage trends, Datassential funnels them into four distinct designations: Inception, Adoption, Proliferation, and Ubiquity.

Arguably, once a trend reaches Proliferation and Ubiquity it becomes a mainstay. So, we can more than likely stop referring to it as a trend.

Now, the two most precarious stages for a trend are Inception and Adoption. Plenty of trends die on the Inception vine. Several won’t make it out of Adoption.

When you see Datassential’s list of global cuisines that fly under the Ubiquity banner, I doubt there will be much surprise:

  • Italian
  • Southern
  • Mexican
  • Creole/Cajun
  • Tex Mex
  • Chinese

So, any shocks to your system there? Most likely not.

“Proliferation”

Another to label this Datassential designation is “second most popular.” Each of these cuisines has a clear shot at reaching Ubiquity.

In fact, I find one of the global cuisines in this category surprising. It’s the first one in this list:

  • Japanese
  • Regional Italian
  • Regional Mexican
  • Greek
  • Mediterranean
  • Regional US
  • Southwestern
  • Cuban

As you’ll see, the lists grow longer steadily as we move down from Ubiquity.

“Adoption”

For me, it’ll be interesting to review follow-up data from Datassential regarding global cuisines.

As such, I’m eager to learn which cuisine from the list below reaches Proliferation in 2022:

  • Caribbean
  • Indian
  • French
  • Regional Chinese
  • Oaxacan
  • German
  • Middle Eastern
  • Korean
  • Ashkenazi
  • Hawaiian
  • Vietnamese
  • Venezuelan
  • Spanish
  • Sicilian
  • Jamaican
  • Israeli
  • Thai
  • British

To be honest, my first reaction to seeing French cuisine under the Adoption banner was surprise. Of course, I then thought back to how many French restaurants we have here in Las Vegas.

Sure, this little city in the desert is a foodie destination. However, French restaurants don’t dot the landscape like those that focus on other cuisines.

“Inception”

That brings us to the first stage of any trend: Inception.

Now, the first thing you’ll notice is that this category contains the most global cuisines. Whereas Adoption features 18, Proliferation lists eight, and a mere six have reached Ubiquity, Inception identifies two dozen.

They are as follows:

  • Brazilian
  • Mizrahi
  • Russian
  • Malaysian
  • Croatian
  • Moroccan
  • Lebanese
  • South African
  • Native American
  • Central American
  • Argentinian
  • Peruvian
  • Filipino
  • Appalachian
  • Sephardic
  • Ethiopian
  • Senegalese
  • Scandinavian
  • Sonoran
  • Nigerian
  • Iranian
  • Persian
  • Turkish
  • Polish

Again, there are some surprises here, at least for me. For example, I expected Ethiopian cuisine to have reached Adoption by now.

Takeaways

Of course, there are multiple ways to interpret this data.

First, you can embrace Ubiquity, leveraging their incredible popularity. However, standing out and building traffic will be challenging.

Second, you can feature Proliferation cuisine. Sure, these have yet to reach the Ubiquity stage. But they’re close to doing so, and you’ll also face stiff competition.

Third, focusing on cuisine from the Adoption designation involves taking a risk but mitigating it somewhat. These cuisines are developing a following and guest demand.

Finally, the riskiest move, depending on location: featuring Inception cuisines. But with risk comes reward. Identify a gap in a certain area—something we can do with our signature feasibility studies—and you may realize staggering success.

So, what do you think? Did you find any of Datassential’s designations surprising for certain cuisines? Let us know on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages!

Image: Jorge Zapata on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Delivery and Takeout Food Trends for 2021: United States

Delivery and Takeout Food Trends for 2021: United States

by David Klemt

Yesterday we reviewed food delivery data and 2021 food trend predictions for Canada. Now it’s the United States’ turn.

Before we jump into the data and predictions, a word on succeeding with delivery in 2021 and beyond.

As I pointed out yesterday, when an operator signs up with a third-party delivery service, their guest data becomes the delivery company’s data.

That means that company and not the restaurant or bar owns the guest journey and guest engagement, and therefore owns the guest for all intents and purposes.

When a restaurant, bar or other F&B business enters into a contract with a third-party delivery company—unless otherwise explicitly stated—they give up control of targeted marketing efforts. In other words, third-party delivery platforms disrupt the guest journey.

Delivery became a way for many businesses to generate revenue during 2020, for obvious reasons. Operators who can afford to implement first-part and last-mile delivery should do so to maximize their revenue and control the guest journey and marketing.

To help operators own delivery, we’ve reviewed end-of-year reports from three delivery titans—UberEats, Grubhub and DoorDash—to share their 2020 findings. When it comes to the most ordered items, cuisines and categories, some third-party platforms are willing to share data.

According to UberEats, comfort foods were the most popular category:

  • Burgers and fries
  • Burritos
  • Pad Thai
  • Mac and cheese
  • California rolls
  • Chicken Tikka Masala
  • Miso soup
  • Mozzarella sticks

Per the platform, the following cuisines proved most popular:

  • American
  • Italian
  • Mexican
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Thai
  • Indian
  • French
  • Caribbean
  • Greek

As UberEats stated in their report, it appears that customers found a way to travel after all—they just did it through food.

Pizza, bagels, wings, tacos, burgers and dumplings led the way for Grubhub in 2020. The most popular pizza order was Hawaiian (because some people are monsters and put pineapple on their pies), while the most popular burger was garlic mushroom. Grubhub revealed that their top French fry was the loaded curly fry, and the most popular plant-based item was the eggplant burger.

In descending order, the top F&B Grubhub orders overall from 2020 were:

  • Spicy chicken sandwich
  • Chicken burrito bowl
  • Chicken wings
  • Waffle fries
  • Cold brew coffee
  • Steak quesadilla
  • Iced latte
  • Fish and chips
  • Strawberry shake
  • Roast beef sandwich

Per Grubhub, the top breakfast item was the acai bowl, the top side dish was French fries, the number-one late-night order was strawberry cheesecake, and the most ordered dessert was apple pie.

Moving on to DoorDash, the platform identified their top ten 2020 items back in November:

  • Chicken fingers and French fries
  • Fried chicken sandwich
  • Mac and cheese
  • Chips and guacamole
  • Apple pie
  • Pad Thai
  • Chicken quesadilla
  • Iced coffee
  • California roll
  • Chicken Tikka Masala

The UberEats, Grubhub and DoorDash revelations align with data collected by the National Restaurant Association between November and December of 2020. Per the NRA, the following were the top items sold by full-service casual, family and fine-dining restaurants:

  • Burgers
  • Seafood
  • Pizza
  • Steak
  • Chicken (excluding chicken wings)
  • Breakfast items
  • Pasta
  • Mexican food
  • Sandwiches, subs and wraps
  • Chicken wings

According to the NRA, the items below were the most popular for limited-service restaurants (fast casual, quick-service, coffee and snack):

  • Sandwiches, subs and wraps
  • Pizza
  • Burgers
  • Chicken (excluding chicken wings)
  • Ice cream, cookies and cakes
  • Baked goods
  • Breakfast items
  • Mexican food
  • BBQ items
  • Seafood

For 2021, DoorDash predicted the following items to see a lift:

  • Sausage, egg and cheese on a biscuit
  • Create your own omelettes
  • Carrot cake
  • Cinnamon roll
  • Caramel latte
  • Chocolate brownies
  • Black coffee
  • Donuts
  • Blueberry muffin
  • Biscuits

DoorDash revealed that Mexican, Chinese and Tex-Mex were the top cuisines ordered via the platform. The company also predicted five cuisines would be popular in 2021:

  • Taiwanese
  • French
  • Filipino
  • Australian
  • Moroccan

When it comes to 2021, multiple sources have named vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and health and wellness items as the foods to watch. Even this early into the year it’s not exactly a controversial statement to say that all of those categories are going to perform well in 2021.

According to DoorDash, nearly half of Americans (47 percent) plan to consume more plant-based items. Whether it’s truly healthier than its traditional counterparts, plant-based is perceived that way. In total, per DoorDash, 72 percent of Americans plan to make a concerted effort to eat healthier in 2021. This is likely due to an increased interest in boosting immune systems due to Covid-19.

Put another way, operators will likely struggle if they don’t add vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based foods to their streamlined menus, another trend expected to continue through 2021.

Predictions from the Specialty Food Association in particular caught our attention. For 2021, the association has predicted spices and herbs native to West Africa (Senegal, for example) will be in demand. Scandinavian and Cambodian flavors are also expected to perform well, as are Latin American and Southeast Asian items.

Due to interest in tahini sauce and black sesame, the SFA expects halva, which is a Middle Eastern confection, to get plenty of attention. The SFA and Datassential both named fermented honey as an item to watch in 2021.

Along with vegan and plant-based items, creative meal kits are expected to perform well. Restaurants and bars will continue to face restrictions and indoor dining bans over the course of at least the next few months. Creative meal kits will get the attention of customers who have grown tired of preparing the same meals over and over.

Whether an operator chooses to stick with their current menu or embrace one or more food trends, they should look into first-party or last-mile delivery. It’s imperative that operators own their guest journey and marketing efforts.

For more information about first-party and last-mile delivery, please listen to Bar Hacks episode 13 with “Rev” Ciancio, an advocate of keeping delivery and data in-house.

Image: Robert Anasch on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The 2021 Food Trends to Know for Veganuary

The 2021 Food Trends to Know for Veganuary

by David Klemt

Strange or even inappropriate as it may seem, it’s time to review food trend data and predictions because we’re hurtling toward 2021.

January also plays host to two monthlong traditions that impact F&B operations: Dry January and Veganuary. For this post, we’re focusing on the latter.

Veganuary may not have claimed “tradition” status just yet, to be honest, but it appears to be well on its way. The movement began in the United Kingdom in 2014 as a social and eco-friendly campaign intended to make the transition to adopting a vegan diet as easy as possible.

The movement has been growing each year with 2018 through 2020 seeing the biggest increases in participation. In 2017, a reported 50,000 people had signed up for Veganuary. That number jumped to a reported 170,000 in 2018; 250,000 in 2019; and 400,000 in 2020. According to the Veganuary campaign, 2020’s participation represented more than one million animal lives and the CO2 equivalent of 450,000 flights.

“Research shows that health is a significant driver for so many people going vegan, especially American consumers. But the reasons to test this lifestyle and decrease consumption of animal-based products are countless, from improving health, to reducing animal suffering, and helping to preserve the planet,” said Veganuary CEO Simon Winch in 2018. “Research shows that not only are there more people curious about going vegan, but more people are sticking with the lifestyle after taking part in Veganuary, which is great news! We are thrilled with the enthusiasm and growing response from Americans taking the pledge and will continue to do our part in making it as easy as possible to try vegan, for as many people as possible.”

Participants sign up for free and are challenged to stick to a vegan diet for the entirety of January. While Covid-19 vaccines have been approved, they’re not widely available to the general public. Many markets are still restricted to outdoor dining, delivery and pickup. It’s important that operators stay current with food and consumer behavior trends to remain top of mind and continue generating revenue.

We reviewed multiple sources to find common vegan-friendly food trends for operators to leverage when programming their 2021 menus.

Plant-based (Datassential, Delish)

One big difference between plant-based and vegan is that the latter’s focus on moral and ethical reasons for choosing the diet. Regardless, plant-based is expected to grow in popularity and therefore demand across the globe.

Tofu (Food & Wine, Whole Foods Market)

The great thing about tofu, a sentence I never thought I’d type, is that the back of house can get as creative as they want with it. Tofu “scrambles” (no eggs, just peppers, onions and sweet potato cubes), fishless tacos (breaded and brined tofu), and spaghetti with tofu riffs elevate this ingredient.

Mushrooms (Food & Wine, Whole Foods Market)

Portobello mushrooms, for example, are more than capable of starring in an array of dishes, replacing animal proteins rather easily. There’s also the fact that mushrooms are being used to make to-go packaging, giving eco-minded guests another reason to support a particular restaurant.

Chickpeas (Whole Foods Market, Martha Stewart.com)

“You can chickpea anything,” says Whole Foods Market. In fact, they claim it’s the cauliflower, taking several forms, like pasta and flour.

Hyper-local (Food & Wine, MarthaStewart.com, The New York Times)

The push for restaurants to source ingredients locally and highlight them on their menus isn’t expected to slow. These publications and more are recognizing supporting local as a “trend” (it’s more a movement at this point) that will get stronger in 2021.

Meal kits (Food & Wine, Delish, MarthaStewart.com, The New York Times)

These, as several publications have stated, are here to stay. Consumers got used to these when subscription services exploded in popularity. Some restaurants offered them pre-pandemic as a response to the meal-kit subscription craze, and they’ve become more prevalent since Covid-19 ripped apart the world. They’re a hit with consumers, so operators should consider vegan-friendly meal kits during Veganuary.

Home cooking classes (Datassential, Whole Foods Market, Delish)

Many of us probably feel like our entire lives are one big Zoom meeting at this point. Well, that’s not expected to change any time soon. A great way to connect with guests staying at home is to host cooking classes—with a focus on vegan cooking in January—and follow up with curated meal kits.

Datassential also identified baby carrots and ramen among their 2021 food trend predictions (and both are vegan-friendly), and carob, chicory root, “future” produce (specialty produce varities), and honeysuckle as flavor trends to follow next year.

Two trends that are not considered vegan? Avocados and fermented honey because the reliance on bees to produce and cultivate both are considered “exploitation” by vegans. Remember the moral and ethical difference between vegan and plant-based from above? There you go.

Image: Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

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