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2012 Foodie Trends

Posted Dec 27 2011 8:50am
I like to look to 2011 to help predict 2012 food trends!  The good thing about predicting food trends is that no one can disprove what is predicted, at least until December 31, 2012.  I have been reading several publications that state consumer spending will be more selective in 2012.  Restaurants will have a more challenging time bringing these customers in to their business.   (1) Gourmet burgers will continue to be the food of choice for many restaurants to bring in business.  The all-American favorite is ever evolving.  Kudos to Pine 22 for leadership in this trend!  (2) Food Truck business will begin to slow down this year.  There are over 20 food trucks in Central Florida.  While this number will grow, I am not convinced food trucks will grow as fast as they did in 2011.  Here’s why… consumers aren’t always comfortable standing in long lines to get something that is supposed to be casual food served somewhat more quickly than brick and mortar restaurants.  I also believe mainstream restaurants that are adding food trucks of their own will be part of the cause for the slowdown of food trucks, if not in the greater Orlando area, certainly nationwide.  (3) Sandwiches that are offered by our local restaurants will continue to trend upward.  Sandwiches are simple, delicious and fast, yet there is room for creativity.  I predict simplicity will be king.  I would like to see places like 4 Rivers, K Restaurant, Shipyard Emporium, and even Prato offer the quintessential French Dip sandwich.  Can you imagine tasting a phenomenal beef brisket French dip at 4 Rivers or seeing what Kevin will do with a French Dip at K?  Bring it on!  (4) Use of alternate meats.  I am starting to notice the trend with local restaurant that are choosing to use meats that are humanely raised and slaughtered and meats which are locally bred.  (5) Restaurants will spend more time data-mining information to strategically find and utilize those who are the influencers for their business.  Restaurants that get serious about working with those who influence their restaurant will grow and the restaurants that don’t will remain static. What this means for you and me?  Restaurants will pay more attention to what foodies and social media say about their food and service experiences.  (6) The last trend in 2012 will be Central Florida restaurants using culinary students in their businesses more than in 2011.  Why I picked this as trend is personal.  I teach in the Hospitality and Culinary programs at Valencia College, recipient of the Aspen Award for best Community College in the nation.  Culinary and Hospitality students are the future of the restaurant industry.  The sooner more local restaurant owners realize this, the quicker they will snatch up a future star for their restaurant.  I challenge the Central Florida restaurants to look at the Valencia College culinary program to utilize the students, many of whom are looking for externships and careers locally.  I would rather see our local restaurants help keep the talent from leaving our area. 
Wising you all a great New Year... follow me on Twitter @1educatedpalate
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