As we inch ever so slightly into a new decade, the foodservice industry continues to change and grow in new directions. Today’s consumers are fuelling a host of changes in the way we look at food and the types of foods we choose to consume. We’re sporting a new attitude towards what we put into our mouths fuelled by a better understanding of the relationship that food plays in determining our health. As these changes continue to take root, it will force today’s chefs to be at the forefront of making adjustments to their cooking styles and to the types of menu items they create in order to better reflect a new appreciation for health and nutrition. From a culinary school perspective, educators across the country will need to better understand how these changes will impact tomorrow’s customer, recognizing they themselves play a pivotal role in shaping tomorrow’s chefs.
Increasingly, we are coming to better understand the complex relationship between diet and health. In fact, diet is now considered the single most important cause of death, as expressed by Dariush Mozzafarian, cardiologist and dean at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition, who spoke at a food conference at George Brown College last year. Whereas in the past, many doctors hadn’t typically considered the role of nutrition in medicine, today mounting evidence suggests there’s a distinct relationship between the two.
And, with the millennial generation expected to fuel further growth in plant-based cuisine, we can expect myriad changes along the way. The growing shift to plant-based dining will undoubtedly continue to gain steam (see cover story on p. 19). The movement to more grains, higher fibre content and organic ingredients is also more important than ever. While the government’s role in moving the agenda forward is important given it has the power to tax certain foods and drinks, all the while mandating nutritional and caloric labelling, the biggest changes will continue to come at the hands of the consumer.
As an industry, we can’t afford to discount the role that suppliers, distributors and farmers play in this equation (see story on p.27). They’ll need to become proactive on this front as consumer demands force operators to change, which in turn will push their suppliers to do the same.
Clearly, food is gaining importance in a way that could never have been imagined. As a result, the restaurant industry will need to become more mindful of what consumers really want and take the lead in highlighting healthier choices on their menus. The industry has made great strides but, as we sit on the precipice of a new decade, the industry needs to move faster than ever to ensure that tasty, healthy and nutritious are all part of the equation moving forward.