Hospitality Group IDs Hottest Dining Trends

Victor ScargleVictor Scargle

HOUSTON-Pass the quinoa. The grain ranks among one of the top dining trends for 2013, according to Benchmark Hospitality International, a U.S.-based hospitality management company whose properties include Benchmark Resorts & Hotels and Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels. Benchmark identified the top five dining trends for the year, observed by its executive chefs and culinary experts at the company's 39 luxury hotels, resorts and restaurants.

The hottest dining trend is what Benchmark calls "chef crafted," referring to chefs who personally create every component and ingredient in their kitchen for total control over quality and flavor.

The second dining trend is the aforementioned quinoa, a rich protein grain first domesticated three millennia ago by the Andean peoples and now one of the top ingredients used by chefs.

The third trend is parental control. Parents are demanding healthier preparations for traditional children's menu selections, such as grilled rather than fried chicken fingers and baked rather than deep-fried potatoes.

Smoked food is the fourth trend, meaning smoked cocktails, smoked olive oils or smoked heavy cream for sauces. And the cooking-with-tea trend of the last few years has evolved to smoking with coffee and cocoa, Benchmark said.

The final trend is diners' interest in the very specific origin of their food while eating out. "Guests are becoming increasingly more insistent on knowing about the specific origin of food they enjoy, including the waters where their salmon was fished, the name of boat and the name of captain," Benchmark said in a statement. "To say 'wild caught' no longer suffices."

"There is nothing more personal than food," said Victor Scargle, executive chef of Bardessono Hotel and its acclaimed restaurant, Lucy, part of the Benchmark group. "Consumers today have an amazing personal connection with what they put into their bodies. Fresh, local, in season--it's what every informed consumer looks for."

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