menu trends

Trend Watch: Chicharrones, whey, sumac

By Lizzy Freier

Canadian foodservice continues to search for ways to diversify its offerings to patrons. Innovation in menu trends is as important in 2021 as it’s ever been, and this latest issue of Trend Watch reflects that.

With establishments in many areas of Canada beginning to open up again with limited capacity, broadening your menu options is key to attracting new and returning customers.

In the latest edition of Trend Watch, Technomic and RestoBiz assess three continuing menu trends you can expect to see across Canada.

Nontraditional chicharrones

Operators are reinterpreting classic chicharrones — which are typically fried pork skins — with new proteins swapped in.

The trend includes a continuance of the plant-based “meat” movement with quinoa, rice and other plant-forward chicharrones, as well as seafood-for-meat and meat-for-meat swaps with salmon, beef and chicken chicharrones.

Menu examples:

  • Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio in West Vancouver, British Columbia, menued Sablefish with aji panca, miso squash quinotto, bok choy saltado and quinoa chicharron
  • Saint Pierre Pub in Montreal offered Milk Poached Chicken, featuring polenta and roast fennel seeds with crispy chicken chicharron

Whey

One of the primary proteins found in milk, whey is a functional product known for its high nutritional value. Menu mentions of whey have increased 6 per cent in enhanced smoothies over the past year, according to Technomic’s Ignite menu data in Canada.

Operators are featuring whey in both sweet and savoury dishes.

Menu examples:

  • 212 in Montreal menued Beef Cru with sunflower seeds and whey
  • Biera in Edmonton served Fresh Baked Mini Madeleines with bergamot lilac sugar and whey curd

Sumac

Middle Eastern sumac is popping up in interesting food and beverage applications in Canada. In fact, menu mentions of sumac are up 7 per cent in the past year, according to Ignite menu data in Canada, including a 13 per cent uptick in entrees.

This spice has a tart, lemony flavour that goes well in salads, hummus, and chicken sandwiches, the three leading dishes featuring sumac, per Technomic.

Menu examples:

  • Ayla in Montreal served an Ayla Salad, featuring Quebec heirloom tomato, cucumber, radish, red onion, herbs and goat feta cheese with sumac and za’atar dressing on the side
  • RGE RD in Edmonton menued a Unicorn Playground cocktail with Strathcona Spirits sea berry gin, Campari, lemon, rainbow rooibos syrup, Manitou orange and sumac liqueur, and sparkling wine

Trend Watch is a regular contribution to RestoBiz based on restaurant and menu trends noted by Technomic Inc.

Lizzy Freier is Senior Managing Editor for Technomic, a Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. The company’s services include publications and digital products as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry, including menu trends.

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