Unlike heavy cooking tasks like baking or roasting, “light cooking” takes a different approach with a less intense, quick cook or finishing of menu items. Additionally, the equipment that supports this kind of cooking is often smaller in size or portable, giving operators the added benefit of more space in the kitchen and the ability to stash equipment out of the way when it’s not in use. With that said, there are many top foodservice trends taking the industry by storm. Let’s look at four of the most popular trends and explore how light cooking solutions can help operators execute on them.
1. Fusion food
Ethnic fare is typically on the list of go-to dining options for foodies looking for a mouthwatering meal. But for anyone wanting to up the flavor factor, local fusion-food establishments are where it's at. Not sure what fusion food is? Think about a glorious merging of flavors and spices from any two or more of your favorite cultural or ethnic food experiences — and that’ll give you a pretty good idea. Although this type of culinary craft is nothing new (hello there, Chinese-American, Tex-Mex and Cajun goodness), the endless menu possibilities that come from these “collaborations” make fusion fare a growing trend that’s here to stay.
So, how can your operation get in on this golden ticket to unique flavor using light cooking equipment? There are oodles of ways. Take the ever-popular crepe craze, for example. Pair a batch of crepes with the incredible flavors and spices of tasty enchiladas – and there you have it, crepiladas. But to get the perfect crepe fusion-food creation you’re after, a high-quality commercial crepe maker with a durable machined cast-iron plate, coiled and insulated heating elements for lasting and even heat, and precision temperature controls are absolutely critical.
2. Eating for wellness
Health and wellness are always in vogue. But since nutrition is a newer science, this field continually shifts, evolves and grows when exciting research emerges or different health benefits of foods are discovered. For example, most people know that taking in more calories can equate to a higher number on the scale. However, newer research shows that it isn’t just calories that contribute to weight gain, but more so the type of calories eaten. Interestingly enough, it’s the carbohydrate-insulin relationship that tends to factor more into increased weight gain.
Research findings in wellness can often spark new food trends, which is one reason there's a whole following of diners focused on lowering their carb consumption. And of course, that trend translates into the foodservice world with establishments offering more low-carb and keto-friendly menu options that their customers want.
Although maintaining a healthy weight can be a factor in overall health, it’s far from the only component. A healthy food journey also includes eating for an improved gut biome, better-quality sleep, increased immunity, grazing on meals that boost mental health and so much more. To go even further, it isn’t just what you eat, but also how you prepare the food.
Case in point, some nutrients in foods are better preserved when they’re raw or lightly cooked. That’s where a countertop commercial salamander grill can really give operators the advantage. This light cooking equipment quickly cooks and holds food perfectly with its infrared heating technology. In addition, some quality units provide the ultimate precision by offering multiple heating elements and an adjustable housing unit to accommodate many different foods. Get that salamander going, and lightly grill seasoned asparagus spears for a B-vitamin-rich side option for your guests.
3. Plant-based and vegan lifestyle
Speaking of healthy, plant-based and vegan foods have steadily made their way from the fringes of the food scene and into the ultra-popular mainstream. That means plant-loving consumers seek out establishments that offer vegan or plant-based options on their menus. If you’re unfamiliar with veggie-world lingo, buckle up for a quick breakdown. For starters, a vegan diet curbs any and all animal products from the plate. As an example, instead of brioche bread made with eggs, flaxseed oil or another egg substitute is used in its place. Or that honey BBQ sauce you’ve heard so much about? That’s a vegan no-go as well since honey is made by honeybees.
On the other hand, plant-based eating is just that, a diet that centers around veggies, fruits, legumes, seeds and nuts. In addition, the plant-based movement typically goes for minimally-processed, whole foods. But unlike a vegan diet, eating a plant-based one doesn’t necessarily put the total kibosh on all animal products. In addition, some people prefer a flexitarian or reducetarian lifestyle. Those two terms are simply a fancy way of describing a diet that significantly limits meat and animal-product consumption while at the same time giving diners the flexibility to give in to the occasional chicken fried rice, grilled cheese or juicy burger.
No question, handling vegan and veggie-based recipes in the kitchen can take a certain finesse to get it just right. But don’t worry; quality light cooking equipment such as a multi contact grill can help. This convenient and compact countertop grill comes with a top and bottom heating plate for quick and easy grilling or searing on two sides of your garlic and pepper stuffed portobello mushroom sandwich or soy-glazed tempeh. For optimal cooking results, just make sure to look for units with the technology to provide even heating across the entire plates.
4. Sustainable cooking
Taking care of and preserving our precious resources takes a top seat in the hearts and minds of many throughout the world. When practicing sustainability, even the little things can make a big difference. Some people choose to limit their meat consumption as a way to reduce their carbon footprint. Or, they bike to work, use less plastic products, recycle and the list goes on.
The restaurant industry can also work toward this goal by investing in equipment that encourages sustainable cooking practices. Smaller, quick-cooking equipment that uses less energy is key. And that’s one area where light cooking equipment shines. Products such as portable induction cooktops are smaller in size, heat up at an exceptional speed (with virtually no lag time) and cook food faster than conventional cooktops. Other solutions to keep energy usage at bay are salamander grills, multi contact grills, commercial toasters and waffle makers. Using light cooking equipment whenever possible not only boosts efficiency, but it’s also an environmental win.
Give customers what they want.
Keeping up with what’s next on the foodservice horizon is vital for any operation’s success. With that in mind, light cooking methods and equipment provide new ways to give your customers what they want. At Hatco, we offer a whole host of quality light cooking equipment that’s sure to please. Interested in learning more? Take a look at one of our latest blog posts. Five Next-Gen Light Cooking Solutions for Foodservice.