On-the-go eating is a big business in the US, with many busy consumers opting to grab packaged foods and snacks when there isn’t time for a sit-down meal. Often, the choices for on-the-go eating leave much to be desired in the health department. Potato chips, pizza and burgers are plentiful, and options like conveniently prepped vegetables and lean proteins are growing but still far from ubiquitous.

Latin American cuisine offers a wealth of inspiration for chefs and food companies looking to create simple, healthy options that can be eaten while on the move.

“The US is playing catch-up a little bit with healthy snacks, said Marie Elena Martinez, co-founder of New Worlder and moderator of the panel “The Best of the Handheld Latin Kitchen: New Ideas for Food on the Go” at the Culinary Institute of America’s 18th annual Worlds of Flavor conference. Martinez mentioned healthy snacks that make up the bulk of on-the-go eating in Latin America, such as “jicama sprinkled with a little bit of pepper.”

Chef Claud Beltran kicked off the session’s cooking demonstration with empanadas, which he described as a perfect handheld food. (read more…)

While restaurants get a lot of the attention when spotting industry trends, on-site foodservice segments like hospitals, colleges and universities (C&U), and business and industry (B&I) have become trend powerhouses in their own right, modernizing segments that haven’t always been known for their dining and retail options. In total, Datassential estimates that on-site foodservice operators spent over $65 billion last year and we project strong growth for the future.

At Central Table in St. Louis, Mo., you’ll find sushi, tapas, specialty coffee and a craft beer and cocktail bar in the 10,000-square-foot food hall. There are street tacos on the lunch menu, lobster tortellini with sorrel and za’atar spiced zucchini with candied kumquats on the dinner menu, and four upscale toast options at the café. It has become a true St. Louis dining destination – quite a feat considering it’s technically a hospital dining room. Situated on the first floor of the Barnes-Jewish Center for Outpatient Health, the operation caters to both the community and hospital visitors and staff; the head chef makes appearances and teaches techniques throughout the hospital system, while the restaurant can also function as a sort of central commissary and create dishes for other hospital dining outlets. (read more…)

Restaurants, retailers and consumer brands are increasingly embracing the concept of the pop-up, temporary shops and eateries that offer an affordable way to introduce new products, try out innovative menu items and wow consumers with flashy new formats.

High-end chefs have been doing pop-up concepts in different formats for several years, often to try out new menu ideas, experiment with new cuisines or to gain a following before opening a new permanent space, and the strategy is also catching on with less-pricey concepts. This week, UK-based Pret A Manger announced plans for a month-long pop-up with a 100% vegetarian menu, including popular meat-free items from the chain’s existing menu as well as new dishes it will test out in the temporary space.

Pop-ups may become even more popular as retailers downsize their permanent brick-and-mortar presence in a digital age, a trend that’s freeing up more store space for experimental pop-ups. (read more…)

What comes to mind when you imagine the eating habits of the average college student? Is it the stereotypically cash-strapped millennial stocking up on packets of ramen and macaroni and cheese, or is it the more modern foodie looking for new and exciting options at dining halls and at the hottest restaurants in town? The correct answer is both and everything in between – among other insights, Datassential’s newest Topical Keynote Report on Colleges & Universities found that while money is a concern for students, with expense being the top reason cited for not being on a meal plan (40%), most students would spend a gift of money on food over other items like clothes or electronics.

Our extensive report uncovers many more essential findings on the behaviors and wants of today’s college students, a population that is expected to reach nearly 23 million in 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. (read more…)

Vegan cuisines can be as different from each other as fast food and fine dining, as varied as the Guac Burger at By Chloe in New York City and the Rutabaga Fondue at Vedge in Philadelphia.

“’Vegan’ isn’t just a single cuisine – plant-based chefs can create incredibly innovative modern dishes or they can prepare simple yet delicious vegetable dishes,” said Ross Olchvary of Sprig & Vine in New Hope, Pa.

Olchvary began his career as a vegan chef 14 years ago, in the days before plant-based cookbooks, restaurants and online resources were plentiful. These days, “plant-based cuisine is always evolving as the chefs involved are constantly discovering and sharing new techniques,” he said.

And with that innovation comes a broader array of ingredients, many of them seemingly exotic foodstuffs that vegan eateries are bringing to adventurous omnivores.

“At V Street, our focus on Street Food from around the world leads us to interesting culinary explorations, and it’s fair to say that the cooking techniques allow us to present new key ingredients to our guests like malagueta peppers from Brazil or marigold powder used in Georgian Svanetian salt,” said Kate Jacoby of Vedge and V Street in Philadelphia. (read more…)