Bob Zappatelli, vice president of food & beverage for Benchmark Hospitality International, has his finger on the pulse of lodging dining trends. Here's his look at what's hot in hotel f&b:

The demise of diets

Today it's about balanced alternatives instead of dieting. Today's menus are about the total experience — fresh ingredients, taste, proper digestion — just the way nature intended it to be.

Not your mother's comfort foods

Hand tossed, pulled, kneaded and milled — preparation techniques that say home-prepared, homemade. Couple these with the freshest organic ingredients and an elegant presentation.

Breakfast way over the top

Everybody loves breakfast, and with the demise of low- & no-carb diets, people are zealously returning to the meal and going for the classics. Flavors are fresh, preparations are creative and the payoff is in the togetherness that breakfast promotes.

Courses within a course

Menus are moving toward total prix fixe dining that is rich in choice. A three-course meal will have several appetizers, entrees and desserts for guests to build. When guests order a course, a tasting is provided of the particular seasonal item ordered.

Loaded with vegetables

Rotisserie chicken with creamy white beans, spinach and fresh basil; fresh bay scallops with English peas, prosciutto and farfalle; pulled pork shoulder with grilled vegetables, black beans and fresh tomatoes — the trend is for lighter fare loaded with flavor and the freshest vegetables.

A word about wine

Rieslings are the comeback kid this year in the wine world. They're refreshing, delicious, pleasantly sweet and have a relatively low alcohol content.

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