Tasty Dining Trends

Benchmark Hospitality's top five dining trends for '07 come courtesy of those on the culinary frontlines: the management company's seasoned team of f&b professionals.

“America's chefs are mixing it up in the kitchen and drawing on memories of hearth and home,” says Bob Zappatelli, vice president of f&b. “And we mean ALL of the Americas — from the top of Canada to the tip of Cape Horn.”

Among the noteworthy trends:

Dessert downsizing, in size only — never in flavor

A tapas-style dessert menu is the trend. Try a sampling of mini-crème brulee, pot au crème, pomegranate flan and tropical fruit spanakopita — flavorful with less guilt than larger dessert selections.

America goes Latin

Or at least Latin American. Latin flavors and the incorporation of fruits, vegetables, meat and fish indigenous to the Caribbean, Central and South America with American sensibility is where cooking is headed.

Grow naturally, harvest locally

Interest in organic foods and ingredients isn't new, but today's consumers and restaurants are demanding food that is grown organically.

Here's to the memories

As important as culinary school is, childhood memories influence the styles and techniques of many great chefs. Memories of family gardens from childhood are met with chefs' kitchen gardens and seeking out local growers. Favorite family recipes are reinterpreted and updated.

Food & beverage, literally

Lemon Verbena Cosmopolitans, Purple Basil and Mint Mojitos, Truffles and chocolate cocktails. The popularity of premium beverages merged with fresh ingredients that might otherwise flavor a meal's starters and entrees — and the specialty drink menu have ushered in a return to the days when the cocktail was king.

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