If you believe that the only way to get diners to eat their
vegetables is to serve up a fancy platter of veggies before they eat their
meal, you are wrong. Every restaurant is seeing a surge in interest towards meatless
meals, and that holds true from the steakhouse to the café. Chairs are filling
up with diners who want more than just meat and potatoes when they go out.
More than Local
Sure, we all know that this year’s battle cry is “local
food” for all. The cry has some subtexts. The guests want local food, but they
also want more choices, and healthier choices. For many that means dipping into
vegetarian and vegan food. Americans polled recently revealed that more than
half of the country now eats a meatless meal at least once a week and the trend
Healthier All Around
With an increased interest in healthy eating, restaurateurs
need to figure out how to get veggies onto the menu. Industry experts are
reporting that chefs are putting veggies into all sorts of unexpected places.
They have even turned up in cocktails.
This trend of offering healthier options extends beyond just
putting tomatoes in your Tom Collins, it includes what is found on the kids’
menu too. Apple slices, melon balls, grapes, salads and even baked fries are
making waves in the food industry.
Accommodate Every Palate
While most Americans still eat plenty of meat, there is a
growing segment that doesn’t eat any type of flesh. Vegans have begun to demand
their fair share of dining space. Vegans won’t eat anything that has come from
an animal, which means your chef will need to expand their repertoire a bit, to
accommodate new appetites. A veggie-burger isn’t going to be enough.
The options for meat-free cuisine are nearly endless. The
key component is not to try to recreate a meat-based dish from vegetables
instead. Veggies have their own wonderful flavors, which can be brought out by
the right methods of cooking and presentation.
If you really want to tap into the increased interest in
vegan cuisine, or vegetables in general, consider planning veg-only days. Not
only will you make a good impression on local vegetarians and vegans, you will
give your regulars an opportunity to try out a new cuisine in a comfortable
The days of limp broccoli and canned corn are gone. Heirloom
varieties, local producers and exotic selections rule the market. Everything
from wild harvested seasonal mushrooms to roof-top grown can be part of your
menu. An additional advantage is that your chef will get to be creative. Who
knows what might turn up on the table?
The Europeans already know what it takes to get that café
chair filled on a regular basis; fresh food, new tastes and even well prepared
vegetables. Isn’t it time you embraced the possibilities?