Perhaps we can blame it on wanderlust combined with the lack of travel over the past two years; Americans are craving global flavors. While in any American town you can find a variety of Chinese, Mexican, and Italian restaurants, now consumers are wanting to step beyond these regions and become more adventurous in their dining options.
According to the 2022 survey produced in partnership with the National Restaurant Association and the American Culinary Federation, the top 5 regions expected to influence American menus in 2022 are:
Southeast Asian (Vietnamese, Singaporean, Filipino)
Southeast Asian cuisine typically includes bowls of rice or rice noodles with almost every meal. In recent years, Pho has been has become one of the most popular Asian dishes across the globe. Pho is essentially a richly seasoned beef broth that is ladled over rice noodles and thinly sliced beef, chicken, or seafood and accompanied by fresh herbs, fish sauce, bean sprouts, chilies, and limes for additional flavor.
South American (Argentinian, Brazilian, Chilean)
While South American flavors can vary widely by region, many of the popular dishes include beans, rice, meat or fish and a selection of salad and vegetables prepared with garlic, annatto, chili peppers, cumin, cilantro, and onion.
The most famous of all Brazilian dishes, Feijoada is eaten in every corner of the country. This rich, hearty stew consists of black beans cooked with different cuts of pork, supplemented with tomatoes, cabbage, and carrots.
Caribbean (Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican)
While locals depend more heavily on goat, mutton, pork, and poultry (with goat being by far the most popular), jerk chicken is one of this country’s most famous and well-loved exports. Jerk is a spice mixture that contains the perfect balance of hot, sweet, and spicy. It can be dry-rubbed or wet-marinated onto the meat. The dish is ubiquitous across the island, served everywhere from beachside shacks to fancy resorts.
North African (Moroccan, Algerian, Libyan)
Often considered the national dish of Algeria, couscous is a perfect complement to any meal. This dish is composed of small pellets of steamed semolina topped with meat, vegetables, and various spices. In Algeria, the most popular meat and vegetable accompaniments for this meal include chicken, carrots and chickpeas.
Western African (Nigerian, Ghanan, Western Saharan)
West African food is hearty and rich in flavors and textures. Vegetables are at the base of many of these dishes with meat and fish becoming a secondary component, which makes every dish incredibly healthy. This cuisine is gaining in popularity, and for good reason.
Ready to give it a try?
While international flavors may be increasing in popularity, your friends at Restaurant365 want to be sure you are making choices that will increase bottom line should you decide to try them out. Start with conducting research about which of these international flavors are most popular in your city. Next, narrow down the recipes to a handful of options that use common ingredients that you already have in your kitchen. Then, read on for tips to get started.
Each restaurant will have varied results depending on the concept and the demographic. Operators can determine what works best for their individual business by testing a new menu item during popular times such as happy hour or brunch. Rather than recreating your menu to include short-lived menu items – which can be pricey – promote these items on table tents and special boards. Reminding diners that these selections are available for a “limited time only” may encourage people to try the new items.
Choose low-cost items that are easy to prep
It may be wiser for a traditional full-service establishment to serve a new international recipe that is simple for the kitchen staff to prepare. Perhaps a soup or stew that can be prepared in advance and served quickly, with little to no room for error.
Pay attention to menu costing and pricing
Calculating food costs can seem complicated at first, but if you take the time to understand each value one by one, the process gets easier. Here’s how to get started:
Menu Item Costs = Cost of Each Ingredient + Cost of Purchase
The factors that influence menu pricing are the price you paid for the food as well as delivery fees, interest, and other charges related to purchasing. This value does NOT include labor costs.
As a food cost formula example, let’s cost out a sandwich. A loaf of bread costs $1.50 + 50 cents for delivery. You paid a total of $2.00 for the loaf of bread. It has 12 slices which can make 6 sandwiches. Each slice would cost 16 cents. Each sandwich uses 33 cents worth of bread. Overall, it might use 33 cents worth of bread, 70 cents worth of turkey, 5 cents worth of mayo, 25 cents worth of tomato, 10 cents worth of cheese bringing the total cost of that item to $1.43.
Gross Profit Per Item = Price – Menu Item Cost
Gross Profit (Per Item) is the difference between the selling price and theoretical cost (Price – Cost) for an item. Let’s use the same example above for a menu pricing example. If the turkey sandwich costs $1.43 to produce. The menu price is $8.00. So, the gross profit for that item is $6.57.
Try our free recipe cost calculator
Measure your results
After testing out a new menu item, examine your menu mix report to determine if serving international tastes is profitable for you. This report allows you to analyze the popularity and profitability of each item ranked against each other and learn what to do with each menu item (e.g., promote it, raise or lower the price, remove it from the menu, etc.) based on how it performs.
It is also important to compare select items in specific time periods to truly understand the test menu’s performance. It is possible that these new menu item(s) work for you only on weeknights but not during a weekend brunch. With this data, you can make more data-backed decisions about your restaurant.
The nonprofit International Food Information Council’s March 2021 survey found that 23% of respondents said that they had experimented with different cuisines, ingredients, or flavors since the start of the pandemic. That’s one in four people trying new things in the past year. Keeping up with food trends is a great way to keep your restaurant relevant. Learning how to cost out new recipes and correctly price them is key to profitability.
If you’d like to leverage recipe costing to track food costs, control food waste, and optimize profit margin, consider an all-in-one restaurant management system. Restaurant365 incorporates restaurant accounting software, restaurant operations software, inventory management software, payroll + HR software, and scheduling software into a cloud-based platform that’s fully integrated with your POS system, as well as to your food and beverage vendors, and bank.