I sort of got my restaurant manager wings right in the middle of the “burger wars.” Remember those? That was when all of the big burger chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s got in a war to see who could make the biggest burger.
Some of them just added more meat and slices of cheese, and others loaded on the bacon or special sauces. Wendy’s came out with the “Where’s the Beef” campaign and then came out with a Kaiser roll that dwarfed the hamburger sitting under it.
Then the fickle public turned on the big burger boys and wanted something cheap. They didn’t want to pay $6.00 for a monster burger that would make them sick. The “value” menus then came out. The magic word here was that they had to be 99 cents.
Then the fast food giants decided that the public was interested in something more healthy. They all came out with a line of salads. The first one was Wendy’s Taco Salad. Real healthy.
Let’s take a bed of lettuce and pile on a bunch of salty taco chips followed by a heaping scoop of chili, and then sprinkle cheese all over the top of it. You want a few packages of sour cream with that? But then they did come out with some reasonably healthy salads as long as you didn’t pile a bunch of other stuff on top of them.
After all of that I got out of the fast food business and went to a restaurant that was a little more full-service. But even in the full-service industry, there are trends that come and go year in and year out.
For the last couple of years it has been fresh organic ingredients and locally sourced food. A lot of the time the local chefs will buy the restaurants supplies at the local farmer’s market.
This saves on transportation costs and pollution and the restaurant patrons of today seem to appreciate that. Some chefs will even go so far as to grow herbs and other seasonings in the back of the restaurant.
According to the St., Louis Front Page News, here are a few more possible restaurant trends for 2011:
“The National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot” survey of more than 1,500 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – reveals that local and hyper-local sourcing, healthy children’s meals, sustainable seafood, and gluten-free cuisine will be among the hottest trends on restaurant menus in 2011.”
They also said that mobile restaurants that move around from event to event and pop up restaurants will become more popular in 2011. The restaurants will also be more aware of people who have special needs, like gluten-free food and menus without foods that a lot of people are allergic to, like peanuts.
Also, along the more healthy food theme will be monitoring of the food from “farm to fork” to ensure that the food is handled properly from the time that it is harvested to the time that it ends up on the plate at the restaurant to avoid outbreaks of food poisoning.