Culinary trends shift quickly, increasing pressure on club culinarians to keep up with evolving member preferences.
Changes brought about by the pandemic and the escalating costs of ingredients continue to drive eating habits and menu possibilities. For decades, the center of the plate traditionally featured a protein, like beef, pork, chicken or seafood. But meals made up of meat and two vegetables are becoming dated and plant-based entrées, vegetable-focused dishes, and more global influences are taking over that center spot.
Vegetables continue to move into the center of the plate, replacing traditional proteins and offering a healthier alternative. Club chefs are growing even more creative with vegetables by applying seasonal availability and regional influences and flavors to these dishes. As members continue to demand more health-conscious cuisine, natural immunity-boosting ingredients are also becoming more mainstream.
Vegan products are not only in-demand among the vegan population but also among the flexitarian population trying to cut down on meat consumption. ‘Flexitarian’ refers to members who want to reduce their meat consumption but are unwilling to be completely vegan. The plant-based meat industry has gained popularity thanks to the creation and distribution of alternative substitutes that taste like real meat.
Classic Comfort Foods
Members frequently gravitate toward comfort food and in clubs across the country, and this style of cuisine remains in high demand. Whether it’s chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, or lasagna, club chefs are finding ways to elevate these dishes by using the best ingredients and techniques. The result is a dish that is both high quality and full of nostalgia.
Fresh and Local
Supporting local farmers is now a necessity due to the disruption of the supply chain. And depending on your region, the possibilities for a fresh and local center-of-the-plate focus are nearly endless. Club chefs are especially interested in working with farmers who have difficulty moving products that aren’t as well known. This not only allows clubs to benefit from a lower price point on high-quality ingredients but also helps the farm reduce waste.
Aligning center-of-the-plate preferences with trends allows clubs to continue to satisfy members while being prudent with food costs and continuing to teach their culinary teams new techniques and dishes.