Is Plant Forward the Way Forward?

With the amount of money and attention being invested in plant-based foods, it’s easy to get caught up in the wave of excitement.  From oat milk to cauliflower crust, plant-based foods have blossomed into a $3.3 billion industry at retail.  Meanwhile, foodservice operators are re-examining menus, foraging for solutions, and launching new concepts to capitalize on rising consumer interest in plant-based alternatives.   Take, for example, Burger King who announced this year it would run a 59-store test of the Impossible Burger, a soy protein-based burger being embraced by independent chefs and chains alike.  By offering a meatless option, Burger King provides current customers more choice, perhaps inspiring them to come in more often, while attracting new consumers who would not otherwise consider the chain.

In determining whether plants have a bigger role to play on menus, it’s important for chefs and operators to consider more than just the bump or buzz that may come from featuring products like the Impossible Burger or other meat “analogs.”  An intimate understanding of the consumer — their specific needs, interests and expectations of the restaurant and/or brand — should drive the vision or food philosophy for the overall concept as well as the menu strategy.  And if done right, cultivating a plant-forward menu will not require buzzwords like “plant-based, “vegetarian” or “vegan,” but rather resonate with guests on a more lasting and meaningful level that comes across as authentic and not forced.

As one of the primary drivers of consumer interest in plant-based foods, “better health”  can manifest itself in as many ways across the menu and across dayparts as there are guests, including allergen free, high protein, low carb and everything in between.  At minimum, incorporating plant-forward menu items can help create a positive health halo.  And, if guests are actively making food choices based on diet or health, cultivating a plant-forward menu that incorporates an array of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and even dairy alternatives enables the flexibility and customization necessary to serve this health-conscious crowd.

Separate from better health, some consumers, particularly those from younger generations, seek out and extend loyalty to plant-forward restaurants whose values align with theirs around issues like sustainability and animal welfare.  In some instances, animal protein still has a home on the menu, but serves more as an ingredient and comes from more sustainable, animal-friendly sources.  In any case, a plant-forward menu can facilitate transparency and create an opportunity for greater engagement with guests by sharing the restaurant’s food philosophy, including the sources and stories behind its products and menu.

In the end, the most critical ingredient to a successful plant-forward menu that appeals to all guests is TASTE.   Whether plants are the primary focus or have a supporting role on the menu, they enable chefs to express their creativity and innovate with new flavor combinations that appeal to consumer’s desire for culinary adventure. While it may take some convincing to bring some guests along, leveraging the abundance of unique and flavorful plants available today can create an exciting and compelling point of differentiation to keep current and new guests coming back for more.


Blog written by Kathy Takemura, Partner, Tournant Inc

Our May Member of the Month Came to Play🍴

Have you met our May Member of the Month?

Meet the owner of 21 Spices in Naples, Chef Asif Syed. Chef Asif makes a mean Tandoori Chicken, and is well known for beating Chef Bobby Flay on his own show, Beat Bobby Flay!

Chef Asif says it best: “Hospitality runs in my blood.” He was raised in a city in Indian known for its hospitality. Because of this, he has developed a passion for helping young adults entering the industry find their passion. It is important for him to teach “youngsters” his knowledge, so that they can one day go on and succeed in the industry.

Congratulations, Chef Asif, for being our wonderful May Member of the Month!

 

Taste of Redland Brunch

Celebrate the robust Miami-Dade farming community at monthly brunches and dinners hosted by Redland. These one-of-a-kind events take place in the fields and on the farms of Redland and feature your favorite chefs from Miami to Key West preparing luxurious meals in beautiful, open-air kitchens right in front of your table. The Taste of Redland Series highlights the Fresh-from-Florida produce as well as locally-sourced seafood, poultry, and meats.

Join Chef Aaron Dreilinger and Chef Drew Thomason for February’s Harvest Brunch. Featuring local fresh-picked fruits and veggies, this tasty event will sell out fast. Get your tickets today! 

Taste of Redland Dinner

Celebrate the robust Miami-Dade farming community at monthly brunches and dinners hosted by Redland. These one-of-a-kind events take place in the fields and on the farms of Redland and feature your favorite chefs from Miami to Key West preparing luxurious meals in beautiful, open-air kitchens right in front of your table. The Taste of Redland Series highlights the Fresh-from-Florida produce as well as locally-sourced seafood, poultry, and meats.

Join us for the January Harvest Dinner with Chef Allen Susser. Book early, seats are limited. Get tickets here.

Florida Administrative Rules Govern Temporary Event Food Safety, Licensing

Temporary events have always been a part of the American culture. Fairs, carnivals, athletic contests, farmers’ markets and local celebrations all have one thing in common – a variety of available foods. Food vendors range from restaurateurs trying to increase revenue and brand exposure to home cooks hoping to develop businesses around family recipes.

Florida Administrative Rules define a temporary event as any event of 30 or fewer consecutive days, advertised and recognized in the community, where food is prepared, served or sold to the general public. The statutes and the rules also specify food safety guidelines and licensure requirements food vendors must follow.

Most events take place outdoors and portable facilities and equipment are permitted. The minimum requirements include:

  • Overhead protection
  • Dustless flooring
  • Potable water for cleaning and hand washing
  • Approved cleaner and sanitizer for food-contact surfaces
  • A hand-wash facility with soap and single-use towels,
  • Equipment to maintain food hot (135°F or above) or cold (41°F or below)
  • A food thermometer
  • The means to protect food from environmental contamination

If warewashing facilities are not available on site, an adequate supply of spare preparation and serving utensils must be present to replace in-use utensils that become soiled or contaminated. All food must be stored and prepared at the temporary event or in a licensed food establishment. Food prepared or stored in private homes is strictly prohibited.

Except for specific statutory exclusions, food vendors must obtain a license prior to operating at temporary events. Event sponsors are required to notify the Division of Hotels and Restaurants at least three days prior to the start of the event. Division staff issue licenses on the event day after conducting a satisfactory inspection.

Fixed and mobile public food-service establishments with a current license from the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, or the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, may operate one unit at an event without obtaining a temporary-event license. Single-event license fees are $91 for one- to three-day events and $105 for four- to 30-day events. A $456 annual license is also available and can be used to participate in multiple events.

Licensing exclusions include:

  • Events held on property regulated by Florida Department of Health, on Native American Indians sovereign land, or on church property
  • Events lasting one to three days and sponsored by a nonprofit organization
  • Food stands operated by a nonprofit organization
  • Vendors offering only ice, popcorn, whole fruits, peanuts in the shell, prepackaged items and beverages without additions or further preparation

Food vendors, including those excluded from licensing, must follow all sanitation and safety requirements to protect public health. A temporary-event brochure and checklist published by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants is available on DBPR’s website at www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/hotels-restaurants.

Read more food safety articles in FR&L Magazine’s Food Safety Edition.

 


This week’s blog is by Carlos Lezcano, Statewide Training Manager, and Lisa Lambert, Training and Research Consultant, at the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.