Do you consider yourself trendy? I can’t say that I generally fall into that category (pause while wondering exactly what I was thinking when I bought into the bellbottoms and hot pant fads way back when. . .), but – professionally speaking – I do try to stay on top of what’s hot and what’s not as it pertains to the hospitality industry because I make my living planning meetings and events. So it’s important when clients ask me, “Hey, what can we do that’s different this year?” that I don’t respond with “teambuilding!” [hint: that’s so last year!] Or, “how about a corporate social responsibility project!” [ditto] While there is nothing wrong with either of those activities, if you’re working the meeting circuit well, been there/done that.
So, now that we’ve crossed over into 2017 (do I hear a Halleluiah? Yes I do!) for anyone in the meeting industry here in Orlando we are gearing up fast and furious for a busy convention season ahead. Heck, even as I write this I’m juggling no less than seven large meeting projects that will all take place within the next six weeks. And three of them are full week long programs making for a very tight and busy schedule for this planner. Which is why I’m finding myself doing some research on food trends so that I can make some snappy banquet decisions with the (hopeful) end result of impressing my clients.
So, what am I choosing?
Well for starters, breakfast is in. This may not be shocking to you since we have all witnessed McDonald’s big ‘breakfast all day’ roll out in 2016 right along with the expansive popularity of Dunkin’ Donuts grab and go breakfast selections. But when I say it’s ‘in’ with our meeting business I mean as you’ll see breakfast-type meals served any time of day at any type of banquet event. Yes, that’s how much we love our egg sammies (one of the new ‘it’ foods – look for all different types of eggs hatched from critters you may never have even heard of) and plenty of versions of savory flavored waffles served with anything but maple syrup. This was really an easy prediction since chicken and waffles has been building in popularity for several years now, but I love that some hotels are even offering mini waffles, both savory and sweet with all types of interesting toppings, even on hors d’oeuvres menus.
And for all you kale fans this green is going to be taking a back seat to, drum roll, cauliflower. Even though it’s white it’s ‘the new green’ as in a vegie packed with goodness. New versions have it even being sliced like a steak and used as a healthy pizza base. Not sure we heard a “yum-oh!” for that one yet but the experiments are still new. Stay tuned for cauliflower, parts 1-2-3.
Other industry trends have been gaining popularity here in Orlando for several years but will now be on larger stages as hotels do more to embrace them. For instance, craft cocktails are very popular so look for the arrival of ‘boozy hotels’. (I’ll let you ponder that one for a while as I move on.) Open kitchens and cozy lobbies, aka kitchens and lobbies without borders, make hotel visits more interesting and interactive which is what this concept is all about. It’s embracing the entertainment factor, right? Food halls are gaining momentum and Orlando is certainly on track with that. Fast casual is replacing fast food.
But, back to my menu planning. Philippine cuisine, and really anything Asian, is topping the food trends of the year, as are the return or should we say the introduction of vegetables – especially those we’ve never seen or heard of before. Hint: maybe they’re all being imported from Asia? Both ice cream and popcorn will be seen in all sorts of flavor combinations, and step aside wine flights as beer flights are moving in to your territory!
Oh, and watch for the word ‘charcoal’ to pop up everywhere. In products from toothpaste to lemonade because apparently it’s good for us. Who knew??