6 food trends to boost the Philippine dining landscape
Mixing food and travel is the next big thing for restaurant owners – and a great gateway to new discoveries for passionate travelers
In a media launch by Unilever Food Solutions (UFS), chefs shared some of the trends taking the Philippine Food industry by storm.
The event, held in Abe's Farm in Pampanga, gave media a taste of some of the restaurant's homegrown specialties and launched a series of bite-size online videos to help food business owners and operators remain competitive.
Here are six of the food trends to look out for.
1. Food Tourism
PINOY EATS. Travelers come not only to see the sights, but also to experience the local cuisine. Pinaputukang plapla and kare-kare are some traditional local favorites in Abe's Farm in Pampanga. All photos by Kara Santos
"Traveling for Filipinos is not just about the sights anymore. People are now going around the Philippines in search of authentic local eats," said UFS Philippines Sous Chef Pipo Aluning.
According to UFS, one way that restaurants can boost their business is to make use of sites like Trip Advisor or Yelp to build their travel itineraries. Connecting with travel agents, marketing on travel websites, ensuring world-class food safety standards, and joining forces with tour companies, are just some of the ways to boost food tourism.
Food also has to be picture-perfect.
"In the age of social media, your dish has to look photo-ready every time it comes out of the kitchen. Tourists love uploading photos of their food to sites like Instagram and Facebook, so you have to make sure your restaurant is represented well – take advantage of the free global promotion," added Aluning. (READ: Dining rules in the age of Instagram)
2. Serving Portions
GOOD FOR SHARING. While generous servings like 'crispy pata' are popular for big groups, smaller serving sizes and sampler plates are becoming increasingly popular
Filipinos are no strangers to family-style dining, as we naturally love to share our food. Offering customers a wider variety of dishes, while promoting a culture of shared plates with smaller servings, is another trend catching on in different restaurants.
Tapas (a wide variety of smaller-sized dishes), having multiple elements on small plates, and dessert samplers are a huge hit among today's diners since it gives them a variety of flavors, which enhances the communal dining experience.
3. Dish Innovation
BAMBOO RICE. Dishes that are creatively presented like this rice served inside bamboo usually gets plus points in terms of social media coverage
Diners are always eager for something out of the ordinary, and having "fresh dining concepts that aim to make a statement" is one way of keeping competitive.
"Tourists are keen on sharing their experiences as they try a wider variety of cuisines and they look forward to tasting the most daring dish innovations then can find," according to UFS.
New concepts such as pop-up restaurants, supper clubs, gastropubs, molecular gastronomy and fusion food offer refreshing dining experiences. Adding new and unique ingredients to traditional dishes is another way can restaurants can stand out.
4. Smarter Kitchens
With the increasing costs in utilities, rent, and raw materials, more and more chefs are looking at ways to speed up processes to improve kitchen efficiency.
To maintain the quality of food and service they deliver to their diners, restaurateurs are turning to technology and convenience products to improve their kitchen operations without sacrificing quality. According to UFS, having the right food service equipment can be crucial to ensure quality, speed, and consistency, especially in large quantity food production.
5. Rise of the Chef
Chefs are no longer relegated to the back of the kitchen. Celebrity chefs like Fernando Aracama, Heny Sison and Laudico Guevarra brought them center stage, making the title of chef a sought-after profession.
In order to build a successful brand name, modern chefs need to wear multiple hats and develop skills in business, marketing, and public relations to fully promote their restaurant.
Working in an open kitchen, visiting the dining area to chat with diners, and reading and responding to review sites, are just some ways that chefs are becoming more accessible to their diners.
6. Creating Memorable Experiences
STUFFED FROG, ANYONE? Unusual food like betute (stuffed frog) in Pampanga attracts adventurous diners to Abe's Farm
Business owners are always looking for ways to keep diners excited and entertained.
In order to stand out, they need to build and promote a restaurant brand that gets diners talking and coming back for more. Having a unique concept and twists in their food can give an establishment immediate buzz.
By offering something new and exciting, restaurateurs benefit at once from free advertising. Utilizing social media like Facebook, Instagram and food review websites are ways for restaurants to engage diners and get feedback directly, which can't be done through traditional media.
But while a unique theme can attract diners, it’s the food and service that will keep them coming back.
With the demand and competition on the rise, operating a successful commercial kitchen is not an easy to task for restaurant owners and chefs, so while restaurants open left and right, only a handful can really stand the test of time.