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Insight of the Day: Menu trends that went to the max at the National Restaurant Show

The National Restaurant Show 2024 was a treasure trove of upcoming menu trends, with a focus on bold flavors, innovative ingredients, and sustainable practices. Here's a summary of the key trends:

  1. Cardamom: This aromatic spice, often used in baking and Indian cuisine, is making its way into beverages like soft drinks and lassis, adding an exotic and pleasing note.

  2. Fermentation:  This age-old technique is being embraced to intensify umami flavors, particularly in plant-based proteins like tempeh and koji. New technology like the Planit POD is making fermentation more accessible to restaurants.

  3. Caviar Alternatives: Several innovative products are emerging as substitutes for traditional caviar, offering similar texture and presentation while being more cost-effective and sustainable. These include Chile Pepper Flavor Pearls, Caviaroli (tiny olive oil pearls), finger lime caviar, and dulse flakes.

  4. Pinsa: This Roman-style flatbread is gaining popularity as a next-generation pizza crust, known for its crispy texture and potential health benefits.

  5. THC-Infused Beverages: As the legality of THC expands, more restaurants are exploring beverages with this cannabis derivative, offering a subtle buzz with pleasant flavor profiles.

  6. Guacamole Extensions: Chefs are experimenting with unconventional guacamole flavors and pairings, moving beyond traditional Mexican cuisine and showcasing the versatility of avocados.

  7. Wheyward Wheyskey:  This new spirit, made from upcycled whey from cheesemaking, embodies the zero-waste trend and offers a unique flavor profile, often used in cocktails reminiscent of espresso martinis.

In addition to these trends, hot honey and plant-based proteins remain popular, demonstrating their staying power in the culinary world.

Overall, the National Restaurant Show 2024 highlighted a diverse range of emerging trends, offering restaurateurs plenty of inspiration to innovate and create exciting new menu items for their customers.

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