Top Food Trends of 2015

By Monica Poling Online Editor, TravelAge West | August 16, 2015

Every year the National Restaurant Association queries the professional chefs in its membership to determine which food, beverages and culinary themes will be the hot trends in the current year.

The survey is sent to the association's 1,276 member chefs, who are given a list of 211 items and asked to rank each one as "hot trend," "yesterday's news" or "perennial favorite."

Not surprisingly, many of the top trends for 2015 stem from the super trend known as "farm to table." In fact, of the top ten trends identified by this year's study, three include the term "local" while another two reflect a demand for "sustainable" products and practices.

That people are demanding food sourced from local vendors should hardly come as a surprise to hoteliers; it's rare to see a hotel restaurant roll out a new menu that doesn't tout "Farm to Fork" cuisine.

But the issue is a complex one. How wide do "local' boundaries stretch, especially for hotels located in areas that offer scarce farms and natural resources? Moreover, how do restaurants address the seemingly conflicting trends of a clientele that is demanding locally produced products, while also clamoring for more sophisticated, global menus?

Here, several hotel-based chefs around the country talk about this year's top themes as well as trends they are seeing at their own properties.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.