Changing Tastes

First it was gourmet cake pops and cupcakes. Today, fancy macaroons and donuts. Tomorrow, it’s the “cronut” – a hybrid donut/croissant making its rise in New York and L.A. The only constant thing about millennials and their food tastes is that they are always changing. 

Local and seasonal produce is nice, but cutting-edge chefs today should know a thing or two about foraging – it’s not just for country folk anymore. The United States is becoming a foodie nation and millennials are leading the way. This generation wants its palate to be challenged, which introduces a new culinary landscape for today’s chefs. 

Those who can meet the need, however, will reap the benefits. Even during tough economic times, Trend Hunter says that 87 percent of millennials don’t mind splurging on a nice meal even if their money is tight. Other good news – they don’t need much more than that. This generation – young adults and teens born from 1980 to 2000 – rarely bat an eye at showboaty decor, which could save restaurateurs money on upkeep in the long run. 

Research firm the Hartman Group says young adults are looking for a more home-spun scene. They seek venues that are “less sleek and stylized, reflecting a casual, democratic environment that conveys conviviality and authenticity,” the firm says. “To be clear, this relaxed atmosphere does not extend to the kitchen, where ambition and creativity flourish and ingredients shine.”

For millennials, the food is the entertainment and they prefer it whole, sustainable and made from premium ingredients that taste good. Bonus points if it looks as good as it tastes. 

According to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), this generation “is the most educated and the most diverse generation in terms of attitudes and appetites; they grew up with expanded horizons and unobstructed potentials. They have moved far beyond the old ‘day part’ menu framework of our industry to become a generation of 24/7 snackers and flavor seekers,” which is why CIA focused on catering to millennials at this year’s Worlds of Flavor conference. 

The event, held in Napa Valley from Nov. 14-16, brought together 700 chefs, restaurant operators and culinary professionals from around the globe to focus on the theme of “Kitchens Connected.” This year’s conference discussed emerging trends in millennial appetites and culinary technology. Guests watched, tasted and learned how to link together emerging appetites and culinary innovation in this era of global food discovery, CIA says. 

World of Flavors featured more than 60 world-class food authorities from 16 nations who shared creative strategies through culinary demonstrations, seminars, kitchen workshops and tastings. 

June Jo Lee, vice president of strategic insights for The Hartman Group, was scheduled to reveal additional data from a just-completed 2013 survey about the millennial generation’s culinary habits as they relate to health and wellness, cooking and food choices. 

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