Harissa, ras el hanout, curry—these are a few of the global flavor trends that are changing the face of American cuisine. The foodservice industry moves fast when it comes to menu and flavor, and customers continue to demand new tastes. The National Restaurant Association’s 2017 “What’s Hot Culinary Forecast” reports that out of the 1,300 American Culinary Association chefs surveyed, 66 percent said that authentic ethnic cuisine was a hot trend, while 65 percent said ethnic spices were trendy. While it is important to be prepared to adapt to these new popular flavors and dishes, it is even more crucial to get ahead of competitors with interesting offers that attract new customers and drive guest loyalty.
What global flavors will consumers crave tomorrow? That’s what Henny Penny, a leader in global foodservice solutions, wanted to know when the company asked some of its international sales representatives who live all over the world to share popular trends in their regions. Henny Penny’s corporate executive chef, Ben Leingang, weighs in on the likelihood of them being successful in the U.S. market.
Fried chicken is an American staple, especially in the Southeast, and gooey cheese sauce is familiar to U.S. diners who already love nachos. This winning combination offers Indonesian flair, but the pieces are familiar enough to make less-adventurous diners likely to order. “It’s a marriage of two items that we love. I don’t see how it won’t catch fire in the U.S.,” Leingang says. A staple of Richeese Factory, an Indonesian quick-serve restaurant, the chicken is freshly breaded and fried. From there, it is put in a display cabinet where consumers can see the final product. The chicken is served at varying degrees of spiciness, which will please heat-seekers, and with additional sauces. The cheesy sauce is served on the site for a little extra indulgence.
Camel is a very tender meat that tastes a bit like lamb and offers nutrients, like vitamin B, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. It is also low in cholesterol, especially compared to beef. Though it may take some time to catch on in the U.S., diners are always looking for healthful alternatives to their favorite foods, and burgers could help familiarize an otherwise unfamiliar meat. “This is most likely a niche trend, but with Australia’s 1 million head herd, this will have marketing behind it to drive camel to plates all around the world,” Leingang says. “That kind of supply only guarantees that this trend is here to stay.” Though camel meat is not new to the Gulf region, the camel meat burger is new. It is currently offered by Switch Restaurant in Dubai Mall and served like a normal burger.
Kunafa consists of dough and melting cheese that is soaked with sugar, making it similar to many traditional U.S. foods, but with a twist. This syrup-soaked cheese pastry is served at most Arabic restaurants and is a well-known dessert with roots in several ancient Mediterranean cultures. It is often served during Ramadan, at weddings, or as a lunch- or dinner-time dessert. Some people also eat it as a meal for breakfast. “Authentic ethnic has been trending for a few years now,” Leingang says. “When you have an anchor with something familiar it makes a trend even stronger. This dessert may be a stretch because we like them sweet in the U.S., but we love our dough, cheese, and sugar.”