Every January, I study the polls and the research, talk to colleagues and compile a list of the trends for the upcoming year.
The biggest miss in 2011 will be desserts. The way we plan menus changes with the changes in our attendees’ health needs. More delegates are watching what they eat and how much. Desserts are no longer a main focus, which means they are smaller, lighter and often healthier, using Agave or Stevia as a sweetener. As for this year’s hits:
Playing with your food. Planners will incorporate interactive stations, allowing both chefs and attendees to maximize their culinary skills. Planners will host cook-offs, providing attendees with the opportunity to team build while they eat.
Size matters. Portion size continues to decrease. Look for smaller, tapas-like foods that offer portion control and variety.
Green is good. Producing sustainable meals is still a priority for planners and attendees. The good news: The longer organic, sustainable foods stay in the forefront, the better for the budget.
Less is more. There will be fewer food functions with higher quality cuisine.
Continental all the way. Full hot breakfasts will be seen less frequently. Continental breakfasts offer the basic nutritional needs without the caloric impact (if planned properly). Most planners will upgrade the continental breakfast by adding boiled eggs and fresh fruits.
Buzz Word of the Year. Pure. More labels will read 100 percent Pure or 100 percent No Additives.
Culinary cocktails. Look for drinks that are good enough to eat. Try a Bacon Bloody Mary or perhaps a Cucumber Cocktail.
Gluten-free foods. One in 133 people suffer from some form of celiac disease. There will be an increase in demand for gluten-free menus.
Green tea is gone. The new super-power ingredients for drinks this year will be lemongrass, wasabi and ginger.
As I sip my warm pumpkin tea, I reflect on how fun, creative and nourishing food can be. Embrace these trends, have fun with new ideas and maybe even create a few hits of your own. One+
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