We Leave Half Of All Our Seafood On The Table (And In The Trash)

Turned off by a slightly strong smelling fillet of halibut? Don’t think that grilled salmon will be any good tomorrow?

Such mealtime decisions may seem innocent enough, but when they’re made by people all over the country, they add up to a staggering amount of waste. Nearly half the U.S. seafood supply winds up uneaten, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

From 2009 to 2013, 2.3 billion pounds of seafood on average in the U.S. was wasted annually. That’s 208 billion grams of protein a year that no one got to eat.

About a quarter of the waste occurs at sea, where fish are frequently caught by accident, then thrown back, according to the study, which appears in the November issue of the journal Global Environmental Change. An additional 15 percent or so is lost en route from sea to consumer, often because it spoils or is discarded as scraps at processing plants.

The researchers say seafood is more likely to be wasted than other foods for a few reasons. It’s highly perishable, for one. And it can give off strong smells “that are not always associated with food safety risks, but may raise safety and quality concerns among retailers, food service providers and consumers,” the study says.

Consumers are far and away wasting more seafood than any other group. The study, which analyzed data from the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture among other sources, found that each year we the eaters buy and then never eat 1.3 billion pounds of fish and shellfish. Some of this seafood is going bad in household refrigerators before it is cooked. Some is “plate waste” — it reaches the dining table but winds up in the trash, compost or dog bowl.

Dave Love, an assistant scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the study’s lead author, tells The Salt that consumers who throw out seafood aren’t just wasting a highly nutritious food. They’re also wasting energy that powered fishing boats and processing plants, kept the seafood cold, fueled its transport over land and sea and maybe even cooked it.

“Lots of time and resources go into that final product, that nice morsel on the diner’s plate or on the supermarket shelf,” Love says. For this reason, reducing waste at the end of the supply chain should be considered a top priority, Love says.

That said, fishermen are also guilty of a lot of waste. And there’s growing awareness about the accidental landing of billions of pounds of fish and other creatures each year — called bycatch. In some fisheries, three-fourths of what winds up in a trawl net is tossed back, mostly dead or dying. Drift gillnets — such as those used for swordfish off the California coast — are another major cause of bycatch, killing marine mammals, birds and all kinds of unwanted fish.

To cut this type of seafood waste, Love and his colleagues recommend bans on destructive fishing methods, such as trawl nets, which are dragged across the seafloor and tend to catch and kill most creatures in their path.

Companies that process fish — canning it or turning it into fish sticks, for example — have plenty of opportunities to curb waste, too, the researchers say. They could package fish in smaller, more manageable portions, to reduce mealtime leftovers, and also provide clearer and more accurate information on product shelf life. Selling more fish frozen instead of fresh would also prevent spoilage.

Still, changing consumers’ careless ways may be the greatest hurdle of them of all.

“How do you force people to eat what they buy?” says Jonathan Bloom, blogger at WastedFood.com and the author of American Wasteland. He thinks many Americans will continue throwing food away until they see it as throwing away money.

“To drive behavior change, you have to tie food waste to people’s pocketbooks and wallets,” he says. You also have to educate them about food safety. Bloom says he thinks many Americans have unwarranted fears of food poisoning from fish, which dissuade them from saving leftover seafood that’s perfectly safe to eat.

Another opportunity is to help more people see fish heads and filleted carcasses as tasty — Love says he and his colleagues did not count this waste in the study because most Americans don’t typically eat these byproducts. Other cultures, however, do. In many Asian and African nations, fish heads and bones are prized and are routinely cooked or boiled into broths.

As awareness of food waste grows, and as the challenge of feeding a growing population with limited resources becomes urgent, Bloom guesses the average American may begin utilizing more of all the food we’ve been throwing away.

“I don’t know which happens first — use of insects or fish heads in our kitchens — but both are coming attractions,” he says.

* Abridged from a story by Alastair Bland, NPR Food. Alastair Bland is a freelance writer based in San Francisco who covers food, agriculture and the environment.

Why Chobani, Nestle, and Other Brands Are Opening Brick-and-Mortar Restaurants

Walk down the aisle of any American grocery store and scattered amongst the usual gamut of brands, you’ll find products from popular restaurants. Taco Bell bottles its famous sauce packets (minus the cheeky sayings). P.F. Chang’s boxes frozen versions of its most popular menu items, like sesame chicken and shrimp lo mein. Marie Callender’s is probably better known for its freezer aisle comfort-food meals than for its actual restaurants, and even cult-loved Texas-based chain Whataburger is now selling grocery store versions of is popular sauces.

But what happens when brands, many of which are grocery-store staples, decide to leap from the aisle to the street — in the form of a brick-and-mortar restaurant?

A number of brands — including Chobani, Nestlé, and Barilla — have made the jump from product to restaurant. Popular Greek yogurt company Chobani opened a café in New York City’s Soho neighborhood in 2012 with, unsurprisingly, its yogurt front-and-center on the menu. Nestlé Toll House Café — which has 145 locations across the United States, Canada, and the Middle East — serves cookies, smoothies, and ice cream, the majority of which are made with Nestlé products.

These branded restaurants attempt to leverage grocery-store items into luxurious, upscale entities. But is it working?

The most recent brand to make the jump is Amy’s Kitchen. The vegetarian frozen food company, best known for its microwavable burritos and rice bowls, is now selling pizzas, burgers, and chili made fresh to order at the company’s new San Francisco restaurant Amy’s Drive Thru. Amy’s director of restaurant operations Paul Schiefer reveals that while Amy’s Drive Thru “uses some of the same supplies, growers, and chefs that had made our frozen food,” the menu is “pretty much from scratch.” For the restaurant, which is completely vegetarian like the frozen food offerings, the team held “over a thousand taste tests of the veggie burger alone, just to get feedback and fine-tune what we were looking to do.”

While restaurants offering grocery-store products is a way to make brands more accessible, these branded restaurants attempt to leverage basic grocery-store items — which are often not considered to be very chic — into luxurious, upscale entities. But it is working? Are these restaurants actually just one big, ongoing marketing stunt? Or are they viable concepts on their own? The answer falls somewhere in between the two.
First and foremost, these branded stores are another outlet for the companies to showcase their products. Shawnon Bellah, the COO of the Nestlé Toll House Café, says that nearly 60 percent of ingredients used — from La Lechera condensed milk to branded water — are Nestlé’s. At any given moment at Chobani’s cafe, there are at least 12 yogurt-based creations — both sweet and savory — on offer. Amy’s Drive Thru sells its popular burritos using the familiar Amy’s recipe, only freshly made. Nestlé’s high-end coffee-pod Nespresso has nine self-described “boutiques” across the U.S. that serve a range of coffee drinks, alcohol, and food. According to Nespresso vice president of marketing Davide Moro, the main focus of the boutiques (a word usually used to denote high-end, exclusive product) are the coffee pods, many of which are the same as what customers can purchase in stores and online. (Unlike Nestlé coffee, Nespresso pods can usually be purchased in “select fine retailers” as opposed to traditional groceries.)

“Anybody who walks by one of our cafés may not be 100 percent aware of the café concept, but there’s a trust factor in the Nestle brand,” says Nestle Cafe’s Bellah. Unsurprisingly, brands then use that trust factor to demonstrate, in-store, different ways the product can be used. While Chobani SoHo’s yogurt bowls feature the same product that consumers can purchase in stores, the café offers a number of yogurt bowls, like the Fig + Walnut (dried figs, walnuts, and a drizzle of clover honey) and savory takes like the Mango + Avocado (mango, avocado, olive oil, sea salt cilantro, and lime juice). Michael Gonda, Chobani’s vice president of corporate communications, also points out that “everything you see has our yogurt incorporated, from the spreads on our sandwiches to our baked goods.” The Mediterranean-influenced restaurant sells a number of sandwiches made on simit, a Turkish bagel-like bread, all come topped with labne — strained yogurt cheese — made in-house from Chobani yogurt. The yogurt is even found in the café’s dessert options, like a rice pudding.

The same goes for both of Nestlé’s restaurants. Moro notes Nespresso uses its boutiques — which can be found in cities like New York City, Miami, and San Francisco — to showcase how its coffees can be transformed into other drinks (the boutiques recently offered a peanut butter-and-jelly coffee milkshake). “You can try the drink in stores… and then we teach you how to do it, so you can do it at home.” Nestlé Toll House Cafés also makes a number of items recombining well-known products: Bellah points to the chain’s Nestle Toll House Frappé, which blends coffee with its popular Toll House cookies. However, while Nestlé Toll House Cafés share the same parent company as Nespresso, it uses Nestlé’s lower-end coffee line, Nescafé instead.

When asked why the companies created each restaurant, the spokesperson for each brand could not stop iterating — in terms loaded with brand speak — that the restaurants are meant to bring a “new experience” to customers already familiar with the brands. When a customer walks into one of the restaurants, the product is whisked away from the context of a grocery store, a place that people typically visit during the humdrum of their daily lives. Instead, they eat the product in a way that’s elevated — in the case of Chobani yogurt, it’s served a heavy glass jar, topped with “chef-created” fresh toppings, and covered with a rustic cheesecloth — and all of a sudden, it’s now an experience worth talking about. Essentially, the restaurants are attempting to craft a Pinterest-friendly aspirational lifestyle brand, through a mix of healthy and fresh-looking recipes, well-thought-out design, and luxurious ingredients.

The majority of the branded restaurants feature distinct design that help set them apart from the grocery store. For the most part, the spaces and packaging are Instagram-friendly in the way that their grocery counterparts are not. Chobani SoHo features a large glass windows, rich dark wood, and the yogurts are served in glass containers. Nepresso’s boutiques often feature wall art crafted from the colorful coffee pods and plush leather furniture. Amy’s has managed to give itself a modern and cheery makeover at the Drive Thru. Schiefer explains that the restaurant is contained within a “physically unique building,” which features a solar-panel roof, a water tower replica with the logo in bright blue letters, plenty of light wood, and large sunny windows. While the frozen meal packaging is quite dated — its more likely to appeal to those who love burnt orange and a ’70s aesthetic — the restaurant packaging is rife with bright colors and a bevy of stripes.

The lifestyle angle also allows brands to create and sell items that they can’t necessarily package and put in stores. Chobani created the simit sandwiches for its café, as well as yogurt cups with fresh toppings. Amy’s Drive Thru has a number of restaurant-only dishes, like fresh salads, milkshakes, and fries, none of which have previously been available as a frozen options. And in addition to monthly coffee drink creations, certain Nespresso boutiques also serve wine, and sparkling water, the ultimate benchmark of luxury.

However, just because the item was created for the restaurant doesn’t mean that it can’t end up on store shelves. Chobani uses its SoHo cafê as a test kitchen and “incubation and innovation hub,” as Gonda likes to say. He tells Eater that the company takes advantage of being able to directly interact with customers, testing new ways to serve the yogurt. If the recipe proves popular, it often “ends up on supermarket shelves.” One such item is the Chobani Flip, which is a container of sweetened yogurt, packaged with a combination of “crunchy” toppings that customers “flip” into the yogurt. Gonda notes, that “most of our Flips are inspired by creations at the café.”

Even though Amy’s Drive Thru has only been open less than a month, it has already inspired a new frozen item. Inspired by a customer that would top macaroni and cheese with the brand’s canned chili, Amy’s decided to add a chili-topped macaroni and cheese to its not-so-secret secret menu. While the chili mac “is not an ‘official’ restaurant menu item, it became a popular special request.” So much so that the Amy’s decided “to make a Chili Mac as part of our Amy’s Kitchen range that we are launching soon.”

So are these restaurants actually just one big ongoing marketing stunt? While the companies will say no, the restaurants provide a brick-and-mortar counterpart to a brand’s social media profile — edited, filtered, and presented at just the right angle. It is a version of the brand that really only exists in that one, heavily curated, place. And that’s just how the brands like it — so much so that the companies will continue to open restaurants. Chobani “definitely” wants to build more cafés, Schiefer admits that Amy’s Drive Thru is a concept the company wants to “take further,” Nespresso plans to “continue to open [boutiques] in major cities,” and Bellah reveals that Nestlê Toll House Café is “on track” to open 43 new locations this year.

Grocery-brand restaurants are clearly a financially viable concept and here to stay.

*Abridged from an article by Khushbu Shah, www.eater.com

Millennials Drive Demand For Craft Beer, Wine & Spirits

Descriptions including “craft”, “small batch,” “custom,” “limited edition” and “artisan/artisanal” are more likely to influence the purchasing decisions of millennials than they are to sway older consumers, according to a recent Harris Poll.

Chefs and restaurateurs are finding ways to feed the trend — the Culinary Institute of America will hold a Crafting Beer and Food Summit in October, bringing together master brewers and chefs to create menus that complement craft beers.

Millennials are driving much of the growth, as they seek out local, authentic and artisan beer, as well as wine and spirits, said NPD Group Vice President Warren Solochek. The trend in food and beverage in general is toward healthier options, but “healthy” means different things to different people, and in the case of beer, wine and spirits, local and artisan are much more relevant to millennials than calorie counts, he said.

“It’s more true of millennials than others, but it’s also catching on with those of us who are a little older chronologically,” Solochek said. “There are so many variations, taste profiles, alcohol content profiles and so many cool little places producing beer, which makes it much more interesting. Meanwhile, the big producers are producing the same things they always have.” Craft beer consumption has grown steadily over the past five years, jumping 11% in 2014, according to the Brewers Association, and craft brewers sold $19.6 billion worth of beer last year. The number of microbreweries grew 24%, the number of brew pubs increased 10%.

The move toward craft beers dovetails with a growing appetite for local, artisan food, he said, and those trends make it much easier for independent restaurants to give consumers what they crave. “We’re seeing an explosion of microbreweries, there are many more places putting them out than ever before. I live in Chicago, and I go to a lot of restaurants with very long lists of craft beers,” Solochek said. They can also charge more, said Solochek, whose son is a millennial and a craft beer fan who doesn’t mind paying more to try new, interesting and local brews. “They’re willing to pay a little or a lot more for these beers because the value proposition is worth it. If it’s a really cool beer, it’s worth it to them to spend a buck or two or three more for a bottle or can of that than it is for one of the standard big three beers. ”

As more new brews become available, millennials are less likely than their older counterparts to find a favorite beer brand and stick with it, and the trend toward craft brews and away from big brands has the big brewers investing in microbrews without necessarily putting their names on them. “Anheuser Busch bought Goose Island Beer, one of the biggest craft brewers in Chicago,” he said. “AB was distributing the beer, then it just bought the company. Big brewers are getting into cider, Miller Coors owns Blue Moon, which is positioned as a craft beer. The business is changing because craft breweries can get enough size and momentum going for the big three.” Small breweries increasingly host tasting rooms where patrons can try out smaller glasses of several different beers in a sitting, he said, a strategy that may not contribute directly to sales growth but works to build brand awareness.

Wine and spirits makers are also capitalizing on the craft trend. “We’ve seen in Chicago a number of companies open up to distill their own spirits, with small batches and limited distribution. They have to go in and sell it into bars and restaurants, with the hope they can build enough of a following to create the demand,” Solochek said. “If you ask me if I think it’s a trend or a fad, I think it’s a trend. I do think it will continue into the foreseeable future, because people love to try something new.”

* Abridged from an article by Janet Forgrieve at smartbrief.com, offering 14 newsletters covering the food service industry from restaurants to food manufacturing.

Bison Is the New Beef as More Diners Choose It Over Steak

At $47, the bison filet at Eddie Merlot’s steakhouse is just as expensive as the New York strip steak. It’s also half the size. The grass-fed meat has fewer calories, less cholesterol or fat than beef, and consumers can’t seem to get enough.

Restaurants are raising prices while the meat — once a niche item — is now stocked by retailers including Whole Foods Market Inc., The Kroger Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. The growing appetite for bison is part of a wider trend toward organic foods, a small but expanding part of the food industry. Aside from the perceived health benefits, demand for such meat signals a rejection of factory-farming methods that account for most protein eaten in the U.S.

“The consumer today doesn’t trust the food industry,” said Roger Gerber, chief executive officer of Blackwing Quality Meats, a U.S. distributor of bison meat. “They can feel comfortable to know it doesn’t have hormones, it doesn’t have antibiotics.” Dining on bison isn’t entirely new. Cable News Network founder Ted Turner, owner of the world’s largest private herd, opened the first of a series of restaurants in 2002 to serve dishes such as bison short ribs and bison meatloaf.

Bison are considered a conservation success story. There are more than 500,000 in North America, according to Colorado processor Great Range Brand Bison, following the efforts of private ranchers. They were almost hunted to extinction in late 1800s, their numbers dwindling to less than 1,000. By the 1970s, the increase in herd size meant they started to be sold for meat.

What prompted Eddie Merlot’s to introduce bison five years ago was demand for healthier options, particularly from women, said Geoffrey Stiles, president of the Fort Wayne, Indiana-based restaurant chain. Its 6-ounce (170-gram) filet, for example, has fewer than 200 calories. Bison has one-third less fat than beef and the animals are raised without steroids or chemical residue, according to the Canadian Bison Association.

The animals spend most of their time grazing on forage. Low in total fat, saturated fat, sodium and dietary cholesterol bison is the right choice when looking for a healthy red meat to serve.

While prices have almost doubled in the last five years, consumer demand hasn’t waned because the cost of other forms of protein — notably pork and beef — has also surged, said Tom Riemann, president of the North American Bison Cooperative, a North Dakota-based processor. “People have kind of gotten used to the prices and are willing to pay a little bit more,” Dave Carter, executive director of the Westminster, Colorado-based National Bison Association, said in an interview.

That’s just as well, because by any reasonable measure, bison is expensive. Ribeye bison steaks rose 17 percent to an average of $31.76 a pound in August compared with a month earlier, more than three times the retail price of a boneless beef ribeye, U.S. government data show. In contrast, cattle futures are down 11 percent this year in Chicago. To keep up with bison inflation, Eddie Merlot’s is raising menu prices as much as 3 percent a year. A life on the prairie has its risks, and the drought conditions that have crimped U.S. cattle supply also affected bison. Ranchers in the U.S., collectively the world’s largest source of bison meat, held 162,110 head in 2012, down 18 percent from 2007, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

U.S. imports of boneless bison meat from Canada have doubled in the past year, USDA figures also show.

But in Canada, too, availability has been constrained, with dry conditions in Alberta and a decline in the number of ranchers, according to the National Bison Association.

Supplies will probably remain tight until 2017, because it can take five years to increase herd sizes, according to Carter. Still, that supply response is already stirring. Ken Overby, a 61-year-old rancher in Manitoba, is considering expanding production after prices increased.
“All indicators are that this will probably continue for a while,” Overby said in an interview.

*Abridged from an article by Jen Skerritt, Blomberg.com

Sophisticated Breads Rise On Menus

With many Americans now avoiding gluten, and a growing number of people eschewing most carbohydrates as they follow the paleo diet, bread is less of a meal staple and more of an indulgence. Consumers are also more sophisticated and discriminating, so when they do decide to have bread, they want it to be something special.

Jana Mann, senior director of menu research firm Datassential, said she’s seeing consumers gravitate toward breads that evoke a sense of freshness, that seem premium or are ethnically inspired.

Variety and choices are also important, observed Mark Mears, chief marketing officer of Schlotzsky’s Franchise LLC, which continues to expand beyond its classic sourdough bread to offer other varieties as well.

“Bread is the undisputed foundation of every great sandwich,” Mears said. “Guests are more discriminating than ever before. They know more about food and want to explore new flavor options.”

Apart from adding gluten-free rolls to the menu, Schlotzsky’s has added ciabatta, which Mears said is more suitable than sourdough for cold sandwiches, and thus appeals to some customers who order catering.

The 337-unit Schlotzsky’s, a subsidiary of Focus Brands, also is experimenting with focaccia, flatbreads and pretzel rolls which have enjoyed a rise in popularity in recent years.

Here’s a look at how restaurants are incorporating pretzel breads and four other fast-growing bread types onto menus:

Pretzel rolls:

Other than the catchall term “artisan,” “pretzel” is a fast growing bread descriptor on menus. Pretzel bread not only has an ethnic heritage that appeals to diners; it also has a nice combination of salty flavor offset by mild sweetness that can work across proteins.

Pretzels are traditionally dipped in a lye solution that causes the outside to brown deeply and more quickly while leaving the inside soft, moist and chewy.

Talera Rolls:

The appeal of ethnic fare also appears to be at the core of the recent growth of telera rolls, the soft, thick carrier for Mexican sandwiches called tortas. Telera rolls are on 245 percent more menus now compared with four years ago — the fastest growing bread in that time period — and 17 percent more menus in the past year, according to Datassential.

Chef Torano of CBD Provisions in Dallas says telera rolls classify as comfort food among Dallas’ large Mexican-American population.“Telera rolls are used here a lot in Dallas because of the demographic,” he said. “It’s very simple to create, but on top of that I think everyone is looking for something they grew up with, something that’s easily approachable and recognizable, and telera is one of the prime examples of that.”

The straightforward roll is made simply with flour, yeast, water and a little sugar and salt, although Torano adds some shortening to his for a softer crust.“It’s great on the griddle, too,” he said.

Los Angeles-based La Brea Bakery has seen so much demand for its telera rolls that it recently introduced a miniature one-ounce version.

Datassential’s Mann said other ethnic breads, from bao buns to Indian breads such as roti and naan, are being used to add slightly exotic character to familiar foods.

“Consumers can’t eat two things they don’t know, but pairing something unfamiliar with something familiar grounds it,” she said.

Conversely, she said some restaurants take familiar breads, like pizza dough, and top them with “all types of crazy ingredients,” whether it’s cheeses or veggies or sauces.

Brioche:

When it comes to premium bread, brioche rules the roost.

This rich, buttery egg bread from France is sprouting up with increasing frequency as a burger bun. But it’s traditionally a breakfast bread in France, according to Lionel Vatinet, chef of La Farm Bakery in Cary, N.C.

He said that although he used to only make this bread — which typically has a minimum butter-to-flour ratio of 50 percent — on special occasions, demand is now so high that he keeps it on the menu regularly.

Doug Taylor, the new corporate pastry chef of three-unit Salty’s Waterfront Seafood Grills, with locations in the Seattle area and in Portland, Ore., said he was hired in part so the restaurants could start baking its own bread.

Taylor said that although brioche is expensive to make because of the high butter content, it’s relatively easy to make and also easy to switch up its flavors. Most bread develops its flavor through slowly rising and fermenting, Taylor explained. But brioche is flavored directly by the fat, and since many flavor components are fat-soluble, brioche absorbs them easily.

Vatinet of La Farm normally flavors his with lemon zest, although for Mother’s Day he also adds dark chocolate and white chocolate. For savory brioche, he often adds thyme, rosemary or puréed garlic.

Lavash – Flatbread:

Relatively new to the trendy bread scene is the Middle Eastern flatbread lavash, which was on 20 percent more menus at the end of 2014 than at the beginning of the year, based on Datassential figures.

Although the term can refer to a variety of different breads, including soft, pliable ones, the type that seems to be catching on is more cracker-like.

Lavash was one of the first bread types Taylor began baking for Salty’s, along with brioche and multiseed, because it can be adapted easily.

“It’s an easy thing to change flavors,” he said. “You roll the dough out paper thin, which gives you a high yield. You can put sesame seed on one, peppers on another, different kinds of salt, poppy seeds [and] mustard seed,” he said. He bakes it in a 24-inch by 12-inch baking pan and then tears it into shards.

CBD Provisions’ Torano also makes lavash, but said that rolling it out is an arduous, labor-intensive process. Instead of including it in the restaurant’s tableside bread offerings, he has relegated it to his charcuterie board.

Rebecca Isbell, pastry chef of Betony in New York City, puts a fusion-style twist on the item, with her pretzel lavash.

“I wanted to give our guests something super delicious — crunchy, salty, kind of sweet and a little bitter, and earthy from a quick spray of lye,” she said.

She uses regular pretzel dough, lets it rise until it doubles in size, then rolls it out on sheet trays flipped upside down. She lets it proof until it triples in size, stretches it paper thin, allows it to dry a bit and sprays it with a 4-percent lye solution. She sprinkles it with fleur de sel and bakes it at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until it’s golden brown and crispy.

“They are pretty epic,” she said.

Walnut bread:

Walnut bread is spreading fast, too: Its menu presence has risen 92 percent in the past four years, according to Datassential.

Part of that spread might be due to the growing popularity of cheese and charcuterie boards. That’s where Florian Wehrli, chef of Triomphe at the Iroquois hotel in New York City, uses it. Triomphe makes a dense rye bread studded with walnuts.

He makes a dense rye bread from the Swiss canton of Valais, for which he uses his own starter and no other yeast. He uses 100-percent rye flour with no wheat added. He kneads it briefly and then adds walnut halves, forms it into loaves and bakes it. He serves it thinly sliced.

“I like it with a little plain butter on top, but with cheese or some charcuterie, with some fat content on top, it’s also good. In Switzerland, we have a lot of good cheese, so it’s perfect.”

Rabii Saber, executive pastry chef of the Four Seasons Resort Orlando in Orlando, Fla., makes a cranberry-walnut bread for his cheese plates. He makes dense bread out of whole-wheat flour and cracked oats, sweetened with a little honey. “It’s a very rustic, country-style loaf of bread,” he said.

“Walnuts are a little bit different than other nuts because they have a little more fat content, so when you mix them in the dough they give it a rich flavor,” Saber said. Like most chefs who add fruit or nuts to their dough, Saber adds the walnuts and cranberries after the bread has risen, so it doesn’t affect the bread’s development.

* Abridged from an article by Bret Thorn at [email protected] , Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

Bowls Are Booming

Kale recently claimed a spot on McDonald’s menu as an ingredient in a line of high-protein breakfast bowls the chain began testing in Southern California restaurants. One bowl features turkey sausage, egg whites, kale, spinach, bruschetta and cheddar jack cheese. Another includes chorizo and egg on a hash brown with shredded cheddar jack cheese and pico de gallo.

The items underscore a larger trend in the restaurant industry. Bowls are booming.

Counter to increased demand for handheld and sippable meals, a number of national chains have favored the format in recent launches. Earlier this year, Panera Bread introduced a line of broth bowls, including a soba noodle bowl with chicken and a lentil quinoa bowl. KFC rolled out a line of rice bowls in spicy barbecue and Tex-Mex varieties for a limited time. And Noodles & Co. unveiled its Buff Bowls, which substitute spinach for the fast-casual chain’s typical pasta and double the vegetables. Varieties include Japanese Pan with marinated steak, Tuscan Fresca with grilled chicken breast, Bangkok Curry with organic tofu, and Pesto with pork.

What’s so super about bowls?

“Customization is a growing trend, and many bowl options allow consumers to pick and choose the ingredients,” said Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights for Technomic Inc., Chicago. “Bowls also allow consumers to try new ingredients without ordering a completely foreign dish. The ability to add a new ingredient to a familiar bowl of food is a great way for a consumer to experiment without leaving their comfort zone.”

Fresh Mex bowls at Chili’s Bar & Grill, for example, offer a choice of grilled chicken, pork carnitas, seared shrimp or grilled steak, plus house-made corn, black bean salsa and pico de gallo, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, rice, field greens, and tortilla strips, plus chipotle pesto and cumin-lime sour cream or margarita sauce.

Consumers may also view bowls as a healthy, creative and more filling alternative to salads and soups, Ms. Weikel said. A bowl containing the deconstructed ingredients of a sandwich or burrito may be perceived as a better-for-you option with fewer carbs and calories. On the Border has unveiled a new line of Border Bowls, prepared-to-order dishes made with cilantro lime rice, black beans, bell peppers, queso fresco, lettuce, pico de gallo and avocado.

Bowls also cross day parts. The breakfast menu at First Watch includes a pair of Power Bowls, which combine quinoa with chicken breast, roasted vegetables and fresh herbs.

The Energy Bowls at Jamba Juice swap the straw for a spoon. The Acai Primo Bowl combines acai juice, soymilk, blueberries, strawberries and bananas, topped with organic granola, fresh bananas and blueberries, coconut and a drizzle of honey. The Chunky Strawberry Bowl contains a blend of Greek yogurt and strawberries, bananas, peanut butter and soymilk, all topped with organic granola, bananas and strawberries. The Fruit and Greek Yogurt Bowl features nonfat Greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries, strawberries and bananas, organic granola and a drizzle of honey.

*Abridged from an article by Monica Watrous, Food Business News

 

Broth Is Hot – No Bones About It

There’s nothing new about bone broth except for its newfound fame. The trendy beverage has been considered a warming, satisfying food around the world for centuries, from chicken soup embellished with matzo balls to Korean ox bone soup, but it is gaining momentum with a health-conscious crowd that puts the meaty elixir on par with coconut water and green juice.

“This is essentially grandma’s remedy for everything — from a broken heart to a broken bone,” said Katherine Harvey, co-founder of Bare Bones Broth, Medford, Ore.

Analogous to soup stock, bone broths are made from roasted animal bones that are simmered for extended periods, from about 12 to 48 hours, with the goal of extracting the nutrients, minerals, gelatin, collagen and amino acids. What was once considered just a base for stews, soups and gravies has become the drink of 2015, now widely viewed as a healing, nutritional champion.

“It’s a health beverage,” Ms. Harvey said. “That’s how people are viewing it now.”

“Broth is part of the real foods, whole foods and slow foods movements, and also of nose-to-tail eating,” said Kaayla T. Daniel, co-author with Sally Fallon Morell of “Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World.” “Science supports chicken soup’s reputation as Jewish Penicillin and healers have known for thousands of years that it can help us recover from colds, flu and other acute illnesses.”

Less well known, she asserted, is that cartilage and other components found in homemade bone broth may help prevent and even reverse a range of chronic illnesses. Such beliefs, many of which are not yet supported by the medical establishment, are the foundation for bone broth’s renewed reputation as liquid gold that is a cure all for ailments, including gut wellness and joint health.

Though nutritionists don’t agree about the many health claims surrounding broth, many in the food industry agree this is more than a passing fad as consumers look to the past for answers to today’s health issues. As one of the few manufacturers of broth that’s shipped direct to consumers, the co-founders at Bare Bones Broth quickly realized there was a consumer desire for traditional sipping broths, as they are called.

Soon after Chef Marco Canora opened Brodo (Italian for broth) in New York City last year to much fanfare, Bare Bones was ushered into a period of steep growth, outgrowing their manufacturing plant and experiencing a 1,600% increase in sales in just over six months, Ms. Harvey said.

Inspired by the Paleo diet and boosted by celebrity and athlete endorsements — it’s Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant’s pregame meal and part of Gwenyth Paltrow’s winter detox menu — the sipping broth trend has hit the mainstream. Brodo sells artisanal broth from its East Village walk-up window in to-go coffee cups priced from $4 for a small chicken broth to $9 for a large beef broth, dressed up with flavorful add-ins like ginger juice, freshly grated turmeric, bone marrow and Calabrian chile oil.

Fresh Thymes Eatery in Boulder has added a broth bar. Others, like JoLa Café in Portland, Ore., and the Belcampo Meat Co. butcher shop in San Francisco, are now serving freshly made broths by the cup to customers wanting in on the trend that’s turned soup stock into a daily staple for some.

“While coffee and tea will always be king and queen of savory hot beverages, the market has a thirst for something new and interesting,” said Gerrie Bouchard, marketing manager for Eatem Foods Co., Vineland, N.J.

The manufacturer of flavor systems debuted new chicken, beef and pork bone stock concentrates at the Research Chefs Association’s annual convention and tradeshow held in late March in New Orleans, served as sipping broths in which herbs, vegetables and spices were added to create French, Thai and Latin-flavored savory “teas.”

Ms. Bouchard said the trend has staying power in part because the rich, satiating profile is highly craveable.

“The health aspect is an added bonus as people are becoming more and more cautious about their health and wellness,” she said.

Commercially prepared bone broths that focus on sipping hit retail shelves in 2014 with Pacific Foods’ new Organic Bone Broth line, which includes five shippable flavors in 8-oz cartons and two 32-oz options for cooking applications. The five flavors include: chicken, chicken with lemongrass, chicken with ginger, turkey, and turkey with rosemary, sage and thyme.

“As a bone broth, we didn’t attempt to make this product different from other sipping bone broths, as we wanted to keep it as true to traditional recipes as possible,” said Ben Hummel, brand manager for Pacific Foods.

However, compared to other commercial products Pacific’s features far more protein than traditional broths, roughly 9 grams compared to the average 1 to 2 grams, and the large size has no added salt.

Mr. Hummel said the response from bone broth-loving customers has been nothing short of outstanding.

“We’ve witnessed some consumers literally clear out shelves of our bone broth in grocery stores, and the sales to date have far exceeded expectation.”

*Abridged from an article by Anna Klainbaum, Food Business News

Green Roofs Grow on Multifamily Buildings in Major U.S. Cities

“There are lots of benefits to having a green roof—the short-term benefit is having a usable amenity space,” says Steven Peck, president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.

A growing number of cities are paying multifamily building owners to add green roofs to their buildings. That’s helping to motivate more owners to plant their rooftops.

Adding an extensive green roof that covers most of a building’s roof space adds between $10.30 and $12.50 per sq. ft. to the cost of the roof, compared to a conventional, black roof, according to a study by the U.S. General Services Administration. Annual maintenance for a green roof is typically higher than for a black roof, by $0.21 to $0.31 per sq. ft. Of course, those costs are for the most basic green roofs. Apartment developers can spend millions to create and maintain rooftops gardens for their residents, with plants ranging from trees to roses.

Some cities offer cash incentives to help owners pay for green roofs. In Washington, D.C., owners can get a rebate of the cost to put a green roof on their buildings, though the District of Columbia Department of the Environment’s green roof rebate program. The rebates start at $10 per sq. ft. of green roof, rising to $15 per sq. ft. in targeted sub-watershed areas.

The word “sub-watershed” is an important clue to the city’s motivation to pay for green roofs. Older cities like Washington, D.C., often have sewer systems that combine water from rainstorms with waste. During large rainstorms, the systems often overflow, effectively poisoning rivers and streams. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has ordered cities solve this problem, but it’s not easy. Chicago has spent over $3 billion starting in 1970 dig a series of massive underground reservoirs to keep toxic waters from flowing into Lake Michigan. The latest phase of the Chicago Deep Tunnel Project is now expected to be complete in 2029.

Infrastructure like green roofs can help by slowing rain water as it races from rooftops to sidewalks to storm drains. That gives a city’s water treatment systems time to handle the water from storms and prevents flooding.

Chicago is another city that provides cash incentives for green roofs, not surprisingly, since the Chicago Deep Tunnel project still isn’t finished. Portland, Ore.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and New York City also offer cash incentives. These programs are constantly changing as cities expand or start new incentives. San Francisco and Pittsburgh, Pa., are both on the verge of creating green roof programs.

“The best thing to do—the easiest thing to do—is call your local government and ask what incentives are available,” says Peck.

Local also require developments to create infrastructure to keep storm water from pouring off their properties. To please local officials, residential developers in many localities build storm water retention ponds and underground storage tanks.

Green roofs can be a relatively inexpensive alternative to other forms of storm water abatement. A green roof can save a building owner $14 per sq. ft. of green roof in local storm water fees or in the cost of other storm water improvements, on average, over the 50-year life of the roof, according to the GSA. The green roof also saves owners an average of between $6 and $8 in the cost of energy per sq. ft. of green roof over the 50-year life of the roof—mostly because the green roof shields the rooftop from the harsh beating of the sun during air conditioning season.

Washington, D.C., is the number one city for green roof installations according to the 2014 Green Roof Industry Survey, from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, the green roof and green wall industry association.

Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York City, Denver, Baltimore, Montreal, Seattle and Boston rounded out the top 10 cities when it comes to the number of green roofs. Not surprisingly, many of those are older cities with aging storm water systems that are prone to flooding, and therefore offer generous local incentive programs for green roofs.

* Abridged from an article by Bendix Anderson, National Real Estate Investor Magazine

 

 

How Restaurants And Retailers Are Evolving Together

Traditional competitors have been moving into each other’s territory, and are using many of the same methods

Whole Foods, the Austin, Texas-based grocery store chain, has for years been taking share from restaurants by offering unique stations where customers can get freshly made pasta, wood-fired pizza or cocktails.

But some restaurants have also been shifting into retail categories. At an NRA Show session this month on the convergence of restaurants and retail, Tim McEnery, founder and CEO of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, noted that the chain has been working to offer more retail space at its locations. There, it can sell the wines the company produces, as well as food products and other items that pair well with wine.

“We’ve worked hard to bring the retail experience to the forefront,” McEnery said, but noted that it is challenging. His restaurants have a slow sales ramp-up, and are thus built smaller, for those early, lean years. “We’re trying to be more efficient with our space.”

Both restaurants and retail concepts are evolving with today’s consumers, shifting toward more local ingredients and open kitchens where guests can see their food being prepared.

This is particularly true at airports, where foodservice providers like HMSHost bid on contracts to serve food in limited spaces to a captive audience. Increasingly, airport specifications are calling for more local brands and products, said Roy Wunderlich, vice president of design and construction for the company.

HMS, for instance, operates a version of The Larder at Tavern at Los Angeles International Airport. More of its locations are bringing food forward, and have open kitchens so airport guests can see the food being prepared — an increasingly important option for customers.

“Gone are the days of the sports bars in airports,” Wunderlich said. “We’ve made a concerted effort to change our design.”

There are strong reasons for that change, he said. Women make 85 percent of consumer purchases and 80 percent of travel decisions, and spend $125 billion on travel. They also represent slightly more than half of all travelers.

“Our menus have healthy options and smaller portions,” Wunderlich said, adding that HMS has also worked hard on its children’s meals, and to make sure the lighting is better and that storefronts are larger and more open.

Having a local focus can be challenging, Wunderlich said, because consumers who are traveling feel more comfortable with brands they know rather than a local brand they’ve never heard of.

Technology can also help brands improve the customer experience. Whole Foods is starting to use self-serve kiosks, where customers can order pizza or tacos, then shop and have the food ready when they’re done, said Christine Sturch, Midwest senior interior design and branding coordinator for the company.

“To me, at Whole Foods, adding technology felt like we would be losing customer service,” Sturch said. “But if we can add technology to make the customer experience and shopping pattern easier and better, and not lose that customer experience, then we have something special.”

Wunderlich noted that HMS is developing a smartphone app that would enable fliers to order food while still on the plane, en route to the gate, so they can quickly grab a meal while rushing to a connecting flight. It also has an app that will enable customers to order food from the gate and have it brought to them.

Regardless of these innovations, operational excellence remains important, and McEnery noted that Cooper’s Hawk spends no money on marketing, choosing instead to devote its resources to training and other elements that improve operations.

“Casual dining isn’t dead,” said McEnery, whose restaurant operates in the upscale-casual space. “Just casual-dining brands have not been able to keep up with changing customers.”

This is especially true nowadays, given the competitiveness of the market, especially with restaurants and retailers increasingly vying for the same customers.

“It’s so wicked competitive right now,” McEnery said. “You can go to the airport now and get awesome food. Everybody has to step up their game. To play in this space, you have to hit it out of the park.”

* abridged from an article byJonathan Maze at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

Study: Restaurant Dine-In Traffic Rises

According to the latest research from The NPD Group, dine-in, or on-premises, visits to restaurants grew 2 percent in 2014, in addition to 1-percent growth in 2013. Meanwhile, takeout, or off-premises, traffic declined 1 percent for each of the last two years. The new research was presented at NPD’s Foodservice Summit 2015 Get Growing Again—Inspiring Consumer Visits, held in Chicago on April 15.

Although the growth in dine-in traffic is small, the opportunity for restaurants is huge, officials at Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD said.

Takeout has been the growth driver for years,” NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs said. “To see dine-in grow, it’s quite a turn.”

It’s better for the bottom line when consumers dine in, NPD found. Dine-in visits account for 39 percent of industry traffic and generate more than $233 billion dollars a year, compared with take-out occasions, which account for 61 percent of traffic but only bring in $200 billion dollars a year.

“We want to get more of that dine-in business. It’s more profitable,” Riggs said. “When you dine in the restaurant sales are much higher, you order more items.”

Quick-service restaurants experienced the largest growth in dine-in traffic, increasing dine-in visits by 5 percent in the year ended December 2014. Dine-in visits at casual-dining restaurants have been holding steady for the last year following years of decline.

No matter the segment, Riggs said the improved economy is driving consumers to dine in more.

“We want to be out and about,” Riggs said. “That’s not just young people.”

According to NPD’s Foodservice Summit Dine-in Study, consumers of all ages are eating out to get out. For some consumers, dining in is a chance to get out and be social. For others, it’s a chance to spend time with family. Younger consumers want the convenience of avoiding meal cleanup, while those over 50 seek the pleasantries of eating away from home, including not being rushed.

Of all the segments, consumers surveyed ranked casual-dining restaurants strongest when it comes to meeting the dine-in demands of good tasting food, good service and convenience.

While there’s a big opportunity for growth in dine-in traffic in casual dining, operators’ responses to consumers’ new dine-in needs has been varied, ranging from some brands that have made minor menu tweaks or begun offering a heavy rotation of combo deals, to others that have completely evolved the restaurant experience.

*Abridged from an article by Fern Glazer, nrnews.com