Increasingly adventurous restaurant guests aren’t settling for plain grilled cheese or the same-old Swiss on a sandwich, chefs say. Foodies and their ever-more sophisticated palates are in search of new flavors, and eateries are answering the call with innovative dishes that meld flavors from around the world.

Rob and Karen Lawlor left restaurant careers when they bought Denver-based The Truffle Cheese Shop eight years ago and, in addition to selling retail and teaching cheesemaking classes, the shop sells its cheese to a long and growing list of local eateries. In recent years, Denver’s restaurants have gotten more innovative with their menus to feed the increasingly sophisticated palates of their guests, Karen Lawlor said.

“The restaurants in Denver are more sophisticated than they were even five years ago, and they’re looking for European products as well as local,” she said.

These days, the shop stocks cheeses from a growing list of countries and regions including France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Switzerland and Denmark. (read more…)

There is no doubt that sourcing food locally is a hot topic for restaurateurs, chefs and their customers. In fact, of all the trends captured in the National Restaurant Association’s What Hot Culinary Forecast this year, locally sourced meats and seafood were among the most popular.

Purchasing these items is a great way to get fresh product and it also helps tell an enticing story to customers who want to know where and when a fish was caught or if the bacon they’re eating was supplied by the farmer down the road.

One issue that remains though: Just because food is local, that doesn’t mean it is better for the environment. So, how do you source food that is both local and better for the environment?

At our annual NRA Show, the Conserve team organized local food sourcing panels to discuss this topic in detail. We gathered advice from three local food education sessions from previous NRA Shows. (read more…)

When you sit down at a restaurant, it’s one of the first questions your server asks: What would you like to drink? Likewise, when you’re welcomed into someone’s home, it’s usually one of the first things your host asks: Would you like anything to drink? There’s a reason why beverages are such an important aspect of the food industry and day-to-day life — in part due to the biological need for hydration, the topic of beverages is a menu category that touches every consumer, across all day parts and all segments. In Datassential’s newest MenuTrends Keynote report on non-alcoholic beverages, we combine powerful data from MenuTrends, our industry-leading menu database, with opinions and behaviors from consumers, and data from operators. The following is just a sip of the insights included in our newest report detailing today’s beverage landscape.

After tap water, brewed coffee is the most consumed beverage

If you’re one of the many people who start every day with a coffee in hand, you probably won’t be surprised at this survey takeaway: brewed coffee is the most consumed beverage after tap water. (read more…)

More than 2,100 exhibiting companies demonstrated their goods and services to a crowd of more than 63,000 chefs, restaurant owners and other foodservice professionals at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago last week. The show floor was a great place to spot new trends. Several trends from years past — such as gluten-free and spicy flavors — are still going strong. Here’s a look at three concepts that were among the most buzzed-about at this year’s show.

Time for Tea

Specialty iced tea was among the top trends named by American Culinary Federation chefs in NRA’s What’s Hot Forecast for 2015. Teas of all types were represented on the show floor this year, from artisanal loose teas to flavored iced teas that are gaining popularity as more diners seek out healthier beverage choices.

Art of Tea was one of nearly 50 companies featuring tea at the show. The 10-year-old company produces more than 140 blends and restaurants account for 80% of its business, Business Development Executive Chelsea Gutierrez said. (read more…)

Chefs and other foodservice professionals are just beginning to scratch the surface of what they can create with 3D printers, and the possibilities are seemingly endless. The Culinary Institute of America has teamed with 3D Systems to explore how the 3D printing company’s ChefJet Pro, the first 3Dfood printer, can be used in professional kitchens. Representatives from the CIA and 3D Systems sat on a panel at the National Restaurant Association Show Monday to talk about what the future holds for 3D printing in the food world.

“We feel strongly that 3D printing has something to offer the culinary world, and we’re motivated to make sure the technology is available to the industry. But we don’t want to be the ones to decide how those capabilities are deployed. We want to make sure culinarians are able to explore those for themselves,” said Liz von Hasseln, creative director of food for 3D Systems. (read more…)