Even the Plate we serve on is Re-Designed. Yes, everything in foodservice is changing, morphing and blurring. When we serve food on a plate, slate, board, or box, the rules are changing to meet today’s consumer expectations.
What’s happening can be discussed in two distinct mega-trends. First, the composition of the plate continues to adjust to what we want to eat and experience. Secondly, the plate itself appeals to our love of art and innovation whether dinning in or out.
Many of today’s eating occasions have seen a shift from meal to snack or small plate. Don’t kid yourself; it’s not all about diet or sensible eating. In reality, often it’s about economics. The Millennial loves experiences, getting out to different places and trying different foods, but this consumer isn’t known for unlimited disposable income. 58% of consumers are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers mini-portions.1
The smaller protein portions are often secondary cuts of meat like dark meat poultry, pork shoulder or beef chuck that’s braised for tenderness and enhanced with great flavored sauce. Today we see more plates that focus on non-meat protein such as vegetables, grains and legumes taking center stage.
“I love being out and experiencing the scene, the flavors and aromas. I don’t need one large meal; just give me a variety of small plates with interesting new flavors.”
The Plate Matters
“It’s exciting to see food become art when placed on unique plates or non-traditional materials.”
At the NRA Show in Chicago this summer, the big news broadcasted by dozens of new exhibitors was the “next generation” of disposables. We have seen small plates to small one-bite snack boats and the new standard seems to be recyclable or compostable. These high quality new disposables are made of everything from bamboo to corn.
This is driven by growth in fast casuals, delivery and carryout. For operators who continue to present on washable and reusable service ware, innovation and interest drives the use of small slate plates, antique mix-match, hand-made pottery or naturally colored glass. Parchment lined boards, baskets and galvanized small buckets bridge the gap between disposable and signature ware.
Disposable or reusable, the “plate” is the culinary artist’s canvas upon which the art is presented. Keep it beautiful and representative of your brand and keep it practical.
As plates change to smaller portions and there’s a shift to less protein and more grains and vegetables; the demand for flavor remains. Look at the tremendous variety of simple recipes that employ the speed scratch strategy where you can save labor and cost by starting with a premium product and customize it with fresh finishes to make it your own.