Trend Watch: Jerusalem artichoke, Asian teas and nontraditional pastas

By Sophie Mir

Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, forward-thinking restaurants are working to revamp their menus to keep up with the changing tastes of the Canadian public. The following are up-and-coming ingredients and dishes that will surely make a splash on restaurant menus in May 2020 and beyond.

Jerusalem Artichoke

Also known as a sunchoke, this North American sunflower plant is popping up in various applications in entrees and appetizers. Characterized by a lumpy, brown-skinned tuber, Jerusalem artichokes are slightly nutty and sweet in flavour.

  • In entrees, its sweetness balances savoury dishes, such as sirloins, veal and seafood.  
  • Can be featured as a stand-alone dish and in soups and salads.
  • As an ingredient it is mostly found at independent restaurants and emerging chains.

Menu Examples:

Asian Teas Beyond Matcha

As matcha reaches saturation, restaurants are spotlighting new varieties of Asian teas. And with over a quarter (26 per cent) of consumers reporting that they are ordering specialty teas more often now than they were two years, according to Technomic’s 2018 Canadian Beverage Consumer Trend Report, consumer demand is growing.

  • Chinese oolong, Japanese sencha and hojicha teas are among emerging types.
  • Teas offer numerous health and functional benefits, such as the potential to help lower cholesterol.
  • Operators should especially market these new ethnic teas to their younger customers, with almost half (42 per cent) of younger consumers ages 18 to 34 reporting they are more interested in trying global flavours now than they were a year ago, according to Technomic’s 2019 Canadian Flavour Consumer Trend Report.

Menu Examples:

Nontraditional Noodles and Proteins in Pasta

Operators are giving classic pasta dishes a makeover by incorporating nontraditional noodles and proteins. Examples include health-forward zucchini noodles and trendy proteins, such as halloumi, tofu and branded plant-based substitutes.

  • Over a third (35 per cent) of consumers report that they are very or somewhat likely to order plant-based noodles at restaurants or other foodservice locations, according to Technomic’s 2019 Canadian Pasta Consumer Trend Report.
  • Can be featured in a variety of pasta dishes, including spaghetti and gnocchi.
  • These ingredients are geared toward diet-sensitive consumers, including vegans and followers of the keto diet.

Menu Examples:

About the Author

Sophie Mir is an Associate Editor for Technomic Inc., 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.

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