Paper straws, plant-based alternatives and drinkable desserts are some of Canada’s latest, hottest dining trends, while cannabis-infused products are leading the charge for what’s next on the menu, says the recent Restaurants Canada’s 2019 chef survey.
Each year, Restaurants Canada asks chefs from across the country to help identify the industry’s most popular menu items and cooking methods, and share their top picks of what’s trending now and coming up next in restaurants. Nearly 300 professional chefs participated in the survey and, apart from the obvious — sustainable seafood, sous vide cooking and locally sourced — new inspirations include house-made condiments and sauces, paper straws and pickling.
And, of course, anything — from sweet to savoury, snacks to cocktails — with cannabis.
Restaurants Canada (formerly CRFA) is a growing community of more than 30,000 foodservice businesses, including restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and suppliers. The organization connects members from coast to coast, through services, research and advocacy: Canada’s restaurant industry is an $89 billion biz, directly employs 1.2 million Canadians, is the number one source of first jobs and serves 22 million customers every day.
Just recently Restaurants Canada had its yearly, trade-only event at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto. Considered the foodservice and hospitality event of year, it brought together thousands of food industry types — from famous chefs to the latest in food gadgets, various competitions (I helped judge the Italpasta competition where, among many of the dishes, a vegetarian dish where the pasta was boiled in carrot juice, turned up a winner), industry speakers to who will be leading the charge at the next Bocuse d’Or awards — Samuel Sirois from ITHQ in Montreal, won the lead role and was awarded the reigns of Team Canada 2021.
“Canada’s foodservice industry has spoken,” said Shanna Munro, Restaurants Canada president and CEO. “Looking ahead, restaurants of the future will feature diverse, healthy, sustainable dining experiences.”
The show reflected this sentiment. Rows were crammed with producers and dealers offering all the latest in the food scene – from delicate desserts to plant-based snacking. There was over 250,000 square feet of products and services not to mention the latest innovations in food and beverage products.
There was also a new vodka being showcased, made with – milk! Vodkow is produced by Dairy Distillery in Almonte, Ont., and it’s made with milk permeate, or unused milk sugar, which is normally discarded after the cream and milk proteins are removed. Milk vodka is not a new idea as the Mongols used the same method a thousand years ago, but it had never really took on because of the cost involved. Until now, thanks to the vision of company officials, as well as collaboration with the University of Ottawa – the process was perfected to convert milk permeate into an unbelievably smooth spirit, nicely packaged in a milk bottle. The spirit is crystal clear, with a delicate sweetness to the nose. Check out Dairydistillery.com for more details.
Trade members were also treated to a peak into the culinary future that included the latest in hologram technology and experience the future of service with programmable robots – including the Waitress Robot – that will be doing everything from seating guests to displaying menus and even serving food! The anti-collision and auto re-charge technology will have her working for up to 10 hours non-stop. With a body made of glass fibre, reinforced plastic, acrylic, rubber and steel, this hard-working “Robotress” stands at 5-foot-5 and weighs 121 pounds. Other robots include Sally the Robot – the world’s first fresh-food making robot (looks more like a pop machine dispenser) who serves customizable, made-to-order salads, snacks, breakfast and grain bowls. Sally prepares an eight-component meal or snack in under a minute.