We’re lucky here in Chicago. Our city is the host each year to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, which features 2,000+ exhibitors from around the world showcasing new products. It’s a...
We’re lucky here in Chicago. Our city is the host each year to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, which features 2,000+ exhibitors from around the world showcasing new products. It’s an amazing place for food trend spotting. Nation’s Restaurant News identified 10 culinary trends at the 2013 NRA Show.
Healthy kids’ food — to meet new school nutrition guidelines or to qualify for NRA’s Kids LiveWell program
Tropical flavors — passion fruit, guava and especially mango
Water — zero-calorie “enhanced” waters fortified with vitamins, seltzer with splashes of fruit juice, origin-specific waters and aloe water
Iced tea – 33 different exhibits showcasing tea, often with tropical flavors or regional designations, such as “Pacific Raspberry” or “Georgia Peach”
Greek yogurt 2.0 — ingredient in Greek yogurt cheesecake, spinach-artichoke dip, mac and cheese, and virtually anything that would otherwise contain mayonnaise or sour cream
Gluten-free — exibitors said it remained important concern for visitors shopping for sauces, snacks and desserts
High-tech convenience — new technologies in the kitchen
Salted caramel — ice creams, cheesecake, candies
Peruvian — Country of Peru exhibited for first time, with Peruvian chef Ricardo Zarate of L.A.’s Mo-Chica and Picca restaurants serving of Peruvian specialities
Superfoods — spices (cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper), teas flavored with blueberry, pomegranate and acai, and seafood purveyors said there was renewed interest in omega3-rich herring
I was able to attend the NRA Show for just a few hours, which isn’t really enough time to adequately absorb everything in the international foodservice marketplace. But here are a few highlights that I observed during my brisk walk through the exhibit floor.
Caffeinated Ice Cream
A brand called Bang!! is a caffeinated ice cream from a company in Madison, Wisconsin. I didn’t stop to try it, just snapped these photos. One scoop of the ice cream contains the same amount of caffeine as an energy drink (125 mg caffeine). Sarah Moore, a managing partner of Bang, told the Chicago Tribune that the targeted demographic is college students, who might consider ice cream over coffee to power through a study session. The varieties include Peanut Butta, Heaps of Gold, Cooky Mint and Iced Latte-Da.
This comes at an interesting time when Wrigley just haulted the roll-out of a caffeinated gum called Alert in response to FDA concerns about the safety of added caffeine in foods and beverages. Food manufacturers have been adding caffeine to candy, nuts and other snack foods in recent years, which has medical groups concerned — especially if children get their hands on these new, easy and tasty sources of caffeine. FDA’s Michael Taylor told the Associated Press that the current proliferation of caffeine-added foods is “beyond anything FDA envisioned” and the agency may look closer at the way these ingredients are regulated.
I saw several exhibits promoting microgreens, which have come on strong as a culinary trend over the last few years. Microgreens are seedlings of vegetables and herbs (including spinach, arugula, peas, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, and cilantro) that are harvested for a week or two, just when the first shoots sprout. Chefs are increasingly using microgreens as an edible garnish, a new ingredient in salads, or as a flavorful side dish. Even though these greens are miniature in size, they can provide surprisingly intense flavors, vivid colors and crisp textures. Microgreens also pack a rather intense nutrient punch, as revealed in this study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. This assessment of 25 different microgreens found that some varieties contain even more nutrients, carotenoids and other phyt