November 12th, 2018

What is Jersey Style Pizza?

Posted in Trends

Seriously, Explain Jersey Style Pizza

Recently, at a food show, I overheard a group of people discussing pizza trends and how we should be on the lookout for “Jersey style pizza.” Now, I wasn’t unfamiliar with the term, but really didn’t have a good grasp of what it meant. So, I asked.

New Jersey Style Pizza
Photo courtesy of Thedailymeal.com

What I received as response, aside from a hearty chuckle (inside joke I suppose), was “it depends on who you ask.” That answer, I felt, was unsatisfactory, so I decided to investigate for myself.

When I started researching Jersey style pizza, I came across quite a few differing opinions (many laced with sarcasm) of what it actually was. So, in retrospect, the depends on who you ask comment had some truth to it.

But, within those opinions, I was also able to stitch together the most common characteristics of the Jersey style of pie.

1. It’s All in the Name

While I was hearing and looking for “Jersey style pizza,” that’s not necessarily the moniker it goes by. This is probably the biggest reason why there are so many concepts of what the pizza is.

The more apt name for the Jersey style pizza  is “Tomato Pie,” or, the “Trenton Tomato Pie.” There’s a very specific reason for this title.

2. Order of Ingredients

Trenton Tomato Pie
Photo courtesy of Pizzatoday.com

We’re all familiar with the standard order of pizza ingredients, which goes like this: Crust – Sauce – Cheese – Toppings (of course there are variations, but for the sake of argument let’s just follow this example).

But for the Trenton Tomato Pie, the order is as follows: Crust – Cheese – Toppings – Sauce. Yep, sauce on top, which, for pizza aficionados everywhere, may sound familiar.

Chicago Stuffed and Detroit style pizzas also tend to feature the sauce resting on top of the other ingredients. Which is why the crust becomes important.

3. It’s What’s Underneath that Counts

The last deciding factor for Jersey sty–err–Trenton Tomato Pies that matters is the crust.

Unlike Chicago Stuffed and Detroit style pizzas, the Tomato Pie features a thin crust. Now, don’t think of it as a crispy, wafer-like thin crust you might be accustomed to, but more of a pliable, chewy style, similar to a New York or Neapolitan style crust.

Trenton Tomato Pie
Photo courtesy of 1000degrees.com

And finally, the shape matters. Tomato Pies keep the classic round shape, rather than adopting the square shape of Sicilian or the oblong style of New Haven pies. These characteristics in combination are what makes the pie unique among its brethren.

Put it all Together

Alright, so now that we have all the information let’s put it together.

Q: What is New Jersey Style Pizza?

A:

  • First, it’s called a Trenton Tomato Pie or Tomato Pie.
  • Second, it’s got the sauce on top.
  • Third, it’s a thin, chewy, round crust.

And there you have it, at least, as far as I can tell.

I want to hear from you though. If you are from Jersey, in Jersey, or just love Jersey and have some additional input on this subject leave a comment. I’d like to know if this amalgamation of information is an accurate representation of your state’s pie.

Cheers!

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October 29th, 2018

3 Burger Chains on the Rise

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Restaurants

These burger chains are smashing competition

Who says there are already enough burger chains out there?

According to FSR Magazine, there are at least 3 burger chains out there defying the dreary odds of success facing many brick and mortar restaurants today. In fact, they are thriving and poised for growth for years to come.

Burger Chains

1. Umami Burger

With 22 current units and another 40 planned for 2019, Umami Burger is positioned for long-term success. One move it’s making to ensure this continued growth is by capitalizing on global markets, like Japan.

With plans to extend to Mexico, UAE, and Qatar (the second and third of these being locations of major U.S. military bases), Umami Burger plans to deeply entrench its global presence.

Another factor playing into their prosperity is the exclusive partnership they have with Impossible Foods, maker of the ever popular Impossible Burger. This impossibly craveable vegetable-based burger patty has become extremely popular with vegetarians and carnivores alike. And with backing from restaurant and nightlife group sbe, well known for their work with Chef Jose Andres’ Bazaar, the sky seems to be the limit.

Trends in Burger Chains

2. Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

The name says it all. Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar is proving to its competitors that it’s a force to be reckoned with.

BD’s turned heads when it recorded 13 consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales, which would have, realistically, gone for 14 if it weren’t for the detrimental effects of Hurricane Florence. Multiple locations were forced to close for 7 days due to the storm, but even with this catastrophe, BD’s still managed to decline only 0.7%.

With 33 current units and another 10 planned for 2019, BD’s remains firmly entrenched in the thick of their success with no signs of stopping. With newly minted locations in Georgia and South Carolina, Bad Daddy’s is building the makings of a permanent fixture in the burger market.

2019 Best Burger Chains

3. Bareburger

Bareburger is working to change the standard of what we expect from a burger restaurant. With a focus on sustainable farming practices and a menu comprised of over 1/3 vegetarian options, Bareburger is raising the bar of green practices.

These services have not gone unnoticed. The chain currently hosts 40 domestic locations, with 10 more on the horizon for 2019, plus restaurants in UAE, Tokyo, and Germany.

Bareburger has also diversified by making delivery service a major focus of it’s business model, with certain locations (aptly named “Bare Bones”) operating as delivery only models. It’s innovations like these that ensure Bareburger will remain relevant as it plans to launch another 10 stores in 2019.

That’s it for this week’s installment. Be sure to drop a comment below and let us know what unique/craveable things are happening in burger chains near you.

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October 15th, 2018

BBQ Sauce Trends in 2018

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants, Trends

2018 Shows Growth in BBQ Sauce Categories

BBQ is a staple of all cultures, in lots of different ways.

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We’re all familiar with the BBQ styles of the South, like Memphis, Texas, and Kansas City, which are ubiquitous with the American style of barbecue. But now, we’re also seeing regions like Florida and California get noticed for their particular style.

Outside of the U.S., Asia has a long history of cooking using the barbecue method, and the word barbecue itself stems from the Taino term, barbacoa. And let’s not forget about the unique BBQ styles of the Native Americans and the Maori of New Zealand, who bury their food on beds of hot stones, covered with wet tarps and earth. This allows for a low and slow cooking style, complete with plenty of smoke.

Today we’re going to investigate the up and coming flavor trends in BBQ sauces in the U.S. Whether you like to slather on the sauce while cooking, dip after the food is done, or go Korean style with fermented sweet and spicy sauces, we’ve got you covered.

2018 BBQ Sauce Trends

Spicy

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Photo courtesy of JessicaGavin.com

It’s no surprise, even in the world of BBQ, consumers are looking for sauces that bring the heat. According to Restaurant Business Magazine, year over year growth of jalapeno-based BBQ sauces is averaging a 16.7% increase.

Chipotle BBQ has increased 79% on menus since 4th quarter of 2017 according to Provisioner Online. According to Diane Kelter, Mintel International’s food-service analyst, “Complex flavor combinations that provide a sweet heat combo, or a smoky sweet combo, will continue to drive more innovation in the category.”

Mustard

The secret is out, mustard-based BBQ sauces are really good. Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce, a mustard and vinegar sauce with plenty of brown sugar, has paved the way for broad-based introduction.

KFC rolled out their “Georgia Gold” sauce in 2017 with great reception. This take on Carolina Gold style riffs heavier on the sweet side, using honey over brown sugar, therefore making it more palatable to a larger demographic.

Trader Joe’s and French’s were quick to jump on the trend, creating their own branded mustard-based BBQ sauces. The next step will be seeing spicy variations of mustard sauces, which have started popping up in small restaurants and food parks, but not yet in the mainstream chains.

Korean BBQ

It just wouldn’t be a 2018 trend analysis if we didn’t talk about the Asian influence.

Hot Sauce

If it seems like you’re seeing Asian food everywhere, it’s probably because you are. The deep, rich flavors and complex aromatics of Asian cuisine drive taste buds wild and leave insatiable cravings for more.

In BBQ, gochujang has proliferated quite well. The salty, spicy, umami rich profile of this fermented bean paste is a perfect addition to the sweet/smoky bases of most BBQ sauces. Many restaurants, like Chi’Lantro out of Austin, TX, hide gochujang in their generically named sauces (i.e. Gangnam, Korean BBQ, Spicy Asian), making it more approachable for less exposed palates.

According to the NPD Group, the amount of Korean BBQ sauce shipped to U.S. independent chains and micro chains grew by 120% in 2017. I don’t expect to see that slow down anytime soon. If you don’t believe me, go try some. It’s delicious.

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That’s it for this week’s blog. Keep an eye out for new BBQ trends as they emerge share with us what you find.

Cheers!

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October 1st, 2018

2018 Chicken Wing Trends

Posted in Consumer Trends, Trends

What’s Trending in Flavor and Texture

Chicken wings are a ubiquitous fan favorite among Americans. Whether as an appetizer, a meal all itself, or, as the focus an event or celebration, chicken wings have not lost their popularity.

 

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In fact, according to the National Chicken Council, an estimated 1.35 billion chicken wings would be consumed during Super Bowl 52 alone! That shows an increase of almost 20 million chicken wings since 2017.

It’s no surprise then, given their popularity, restaurants continue to experiment with chicken wings in flavor and texture.

Flavor Trends

Asian

Asian flavors are pushing the envelope in almost all categories, and while wings are no stranger to Eastern flavors, they’re starting to get funkier, err, fishier.

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That’s right, fish sauce is boosting wings to another level of umami. Pok Pok Restaurants, based in Portland, OR, lead the way with the aptly named “Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings.” These crispy morsels are marinated in fish sauce and sugar, then tossed in a sauce of fish sauce and caramelized garlic.

MOPHO of New Orleans is no stranger to nam pla either. Their eponymous wings are coated in a caramel made from fish sauce, sugar, garlic, Thai chilies, ginger, and lime.

On the Korean side of things, Chi’Lantro Korean BBQ Inspired Restaurants serve their chicken wings in a house “Gangnam” sauce that features spicy gochujang paste. A fermented chili and bean paste, gochujang serves as the base for many Korean BBQ sauce recipes.

Smoke

Smoked flavors continue to drift into the mainstream, and wings offer a great medium to play with different types.

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Firebirds Wood Fired Grill amps up its classic Buffalo wings by smoking, chilling, then flash frying for service. Chili’s has entered the game as well with their pecan wood smoked wings glazed in zesty BBQ sauce.

Momofuku Noodle Bar of New York combines both the Asian inspired and smoked trends with their smoked chicken wings made with garlic, Thai chile, and scallions. Wingzup of Austin, TX, doubles down on the char by smoking their wings for 4.5 hours over hickory then grilling them over an open flame.

Texture

Along with flavor, chefs are starting to add different textures to their wings, elevating the simple dish and driving interest.

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At Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen they are serving up Thai Sticky Wings garnished with crushed peanuts and crispy spring-roll wrapper strips for added crunch. Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken Restaurant goes deep on the crunch by using cornstarch in the breading and twice frying their wings giving them a thin, ultra-crispy skin and immensely satisfying crispiness.

Finally, at Haisous in Chicago you can find chicken wings basted in a caramelized fish sauce and topped with crispy fried garlic and shallots. My mouth is watering just thinking about that depth of flavor.

Keep an eye out for other fun textures like potato chips, panko, and puffed grains as they start to make headway into the mainstream market.

Until next time, cheers everybody!

 

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September 10th, 2018

New Flavors in Hot Sauce

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends

We searched around to see what’s happening in the hot sauce world

Hey there hot sauce lovers. Thanks for stopping by to find out what’s new in the world of spicy condiments.

Hot Sauce

2018 has seen bold statements made in flavor trends with things like Za’atar, Thai and Filipino cuisine, and Mexican moles. The hot sauce market is no different, seeing a myriad of new flavors and ingredients.

Let’s look at what’s new and trendy.

What’s New in Hot Sauce?

Fruit

Ok, not totally new, but stay with me. While fruits have been showing up in hot sauces and salsas for a while now (see mango and pineapple), helping to mellow out those spicy acidic tones, more interesting fruits are beginning to appear.

Bravado Spice Co. has developed a Jalapeno and Green Apple sauce that’s gaining quite a bit of popularity as a flavor packed, not too hot sauce. They also produce a Ghost Pepper and Blueberry sauce for the more adventurous palate. Yellowbird, out of Austin, TX, uses bright tangerine juice to balance out the spicy peppers used in a few of their sauces.

Hot Sauce Trends

Image Courtesy of Culleysusa.com

Finally, Culley’s out of New Zealand makes a Kiwi Habanero sauce that I’m dying to try. It may seem a bit too on the nose, but I love it anyhow.

Chocolate

Chocolate really does make most things better (bacon, fruit, potato chips, you get the idea), and hot sauce is no exception.

Image Courtesy of Heathotsauce.com

Nebraska’s own Volcanic Peppers brand has proved this with their award winning Chocolate Lightening hot sauce. Also joining the party is Punch Drunk with their Chocolate Ghost Pepper hot sauce. To make theirs a bit more unique they use chia seeds as a thickening agent.

Finally, look for Dawson’s brand Chocolate Hot Sauce for use on desserts. With a milder heat and sweeter profile, this one plays well with unique confections.

Truffles

Because, why not? Truffle flavors are common on fries, chips, eggs, and pizzas all over the U.S., so why not hot sauce. Makes sense to me.

Hot Sauce 2018

Image Courtesy of Truffhotsauce.com

While you can find a few brands selling truffle hot sauce, like Frohlich and Gindo’s, the clear market leader in this category has to be Truff. With its use of black truffles along with an infused olive oil, Truff balances the heat with savory aromatics and a clean flavor.

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As you can see there doesn’t seem to be any lack of innovation in the world of hot sauces. I hope we see this trend continue forward, as I’m one of the many who just can’t get enough.

Happy eating friends!

 

 

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August 27th, 2018

2018 Pizza Industry Review – Pt. 2

Posted in Consumer Trends, Pizza, Product Innovation, Restaurants, Trends

Enhanced ordering, & new menu items

Catch-Up

Welcome back friends. Let’s do a quick catch-up session here.

Last blog we talked about the 2018 Pizza Industry, focusing on consumer preferences (convenience, quality, affordability), national chain vs. independent restaurant stats, and international growth.

Today, we’ll cover new menu trends and enhanced ordering with a spotlight on new tech.

Menu Trends

2018 is the year of personalization. Customers are looking for unique toppings, signature pies, and the ability to make whatever wacky concoction pops into their mind (looking at you, unicorn pizza). This has led to an expansion in toppings held on the line for many restaurants (think Brussels sprouts, clams, and brisket).

2018 Pizza Trends

Photo Courtesy of Teen Vogue

This love for customization is also a contributing factor to the success of fast casual pizza restaurants like Blaze and Mod. Additionally, these restaurants are quite popular with guests looking for healthier options or suffering from allergies and intolerances. They have many offerings to help avoid triggers and amp up the health quotient while still creating a delicious personal pie.

Finally, Detroit style pizza has found a proper following and is trickling across the nation. Most major cities now offer Detroit style, which is a deep dish pizza made in a rectangular pan. Its caramelized edges and thick, chewy dough have been turning heads and gaining a stable of fans for good reason.

Enhanced Ordering

As we discussed in the consumer needs section on the previous post, technology and ordering convenience are major factors in the customer’s restaurant choice. With 69% of internet users choosing the online ordering option per Emarketer, it’s imperative for pizza restaurants to not only adopt this measure, but make it convenient and easy as well.

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Hand in hand with ease of ordering is efficient delivery. Customers want a fresh, hot pizza delivered to them within minutes of submitting the order, and, as it turns out, they prefer that delivery to be directly from the restaurant, rather than a third party service like GrubHub or DoorDash.

Pizza restaurants are also looking into new technology to help with faster delivery. Domino’s, for example, has developed proprietary technology that allows consumers to order pizza in multiple convenient ways (including through Twitter, Zero-Click ordering, the AnyWare app, and into the future with natural voice). They’ve even gone as far as to commission a line of automated vehicles complete with built-in pizza ovens that will be capable of baking a freshly made pizza en route to your home.

Conclusion

2018 Pizza Trends

That’s a wrap for the 2018 Pizza Industry Review. With all that’s happening around technological innovation, I can’t wait to see what the landscape looks like for 2019.

Be sure to comment about what you’ve seen or anticipate seeing in the future of pizza. The only limit is your imagination (see: Unicorn Pizza…).

Cheers!

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August 13th, 2018

2018 Pizza Industry Review – Pt. 1

Posted in Food Trends, news, Pizza

Customization, Tech, & Speed lead 2018 Pizza Trends

2018 aims to be a benchmark year for the pizza industry. Data is showing a rise in the US and global pizza market, along with an increase in average unit sales for the top 50 chains. All while this is happening, the number of US pizzerias has actually fallen for a net loss of roughly 299 establishments. More people are ordering pizza more often from less overall places. Sounds like the market is refining itself.

Pizza trends 2018

But let’s take a deep dive into the pizza market and how we can anticipate what comes next. This will be part one of a two-part series, covering topics including consumer needs, headline news, the international market, menu trends, ordering practices, and, of course, the best technology company that sells pizzas.

So what is driving the pizza industry?

Consumer Preferences

Convenience is key when it comes to consumer needs. Pizza companies are really starting to understand this by offering many convenient ways to place orders. Through websites, social media, various online ordering mediums, and specialized delivery tech., consumers literally have pizza at their fingertips anytime, anywhere.

2018 Pizza Trends

Without quality, however, convenience is rendered meaningless. Consumers still consider quality a primary driver when making their decision on where to buy a pie. Quality can carry a very subjective meaning though. What one person considers a trait of quality others may not, which is one reason there’s so much room to play in the pizza sandbox.

And finally, we can’t talk about consumer needs without discussing cost. As Americans dine out more and more often, they find themselves watching the cost of meals more closely. While most consumers are willing to pay a premium for artisan and specialty pizzas, they expect to pay “reasonable” prices for the more standardized items.

National News

Pizza loves to take the headlines, and 2018 will be no different. According to Business Insider, fast-casual pizza was the fastest growing segment in 2017 with no sight of slowing down. As it happens, Blaze Pizza holds the #1 position for fastest growing restaurant chain in the U.S.

Fast Casual Pizza 2018

We are also observing excellent growth via sales increases in the industry. North American chain restaurants have reported a growth of 5.83%, while independent restaurants have grown 2.65% per Euromotor. This shouldn’t worry independents too much, as consumers still often choose them over chains for reasons including community involvement, personalized service, and having shared customer values.

International Growth

Across the globe pizza is becoming a staple of the diet for many different cultures. It’s becoming especially popular in places like Africa and the Middle East. Euromotor has shown a growth from $4.29 billion in sales in 2015 to $4.66 billion in 2016.

Pizza Industry Trends 2018

Pizza Hut has noticed this growth and the potential in these markets. In Pakistan alone The Hut has planned to double its restaurants to over 150 in the next 5 years. These cultures view Western foods like pizza as a status symbol, leaving a rare opportunity for a company to initiate new levels of brand loyalty globally.

Conclusion

That’s quite a bit of info to absorb in one day. Check back the week after next for Part 2 of our 2018 Pizza Industry Review series.

Cheers!

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July 30th, 2018

BJ’s See Huge Rise in 2nd Quarter

Posted in news, Restaurants

Same Store Sales Increased 5.6%

BJs Brewhouse

Things are looking bright for BJ’s Restaurants Inc. The casual dining chain based out of Huntington Beach, CA showed a profit of 76% in the second quarter of 2018.

BJ’s associating this spike in revenue with its recently implemented Slow Roast, Daily Brewhouse specials, and off-site delivery programs. Complemented by an ever popular customer loyalty club, BJ’s believes it can expand upon the current successes and parlay them into future growth.

Restaurant Sales

In addition to the overall profit, 42 of the organization’s 200 restaurants posted daily sales records.

For the fans of BJ’s roots, don’t worry, there will be no forgetting the deep dish pizzas that brought them to where they are today. In fact, as a part of the new Daily Brewhouse specials, BJ’s is offering half off any large deep-dish pizza on Mondays. Now that’s a deal anyone can get behind.

Chain Restaurant Sales

We’ll be watching as BJ’s continues to experiment with new menu offering sand updated flavors.

 

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July 2nd, 2018

Indian on the Rise

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends

and I couldn’t be more excited…

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Much to my delight, Indian cuisine is on the rise in the American palate. This niche of food is steadily growing in the United States today. This is shown through the rise of Indian inspired dishes, casual Indian eateries, and expanding variety of easy to cook Indian dishes at home.

Indian fusion and inspiration is creeping it’s way into mainstream. Restaurants such as the Bombay Frankie Co in L.A. are starting to serve item such as Indian burritos. We’re seeing Masala Pizzas, Indian burritos, and other delectable mashups. These combinations are encouraging accessibility and new experiences to the American palate.

Quick service restaurants have also seen a rise in Indian flavors. In Texas, we’re seeing more and more local quick service restaurants such as Tarka Indian Kitchen and Masala Wok appear. The well-known G’Raj Mahal food truck on Rainey Street has now earned a brick and mortar location. Quick service Indian food can be served as easily as a Chipotle style DIY assembly line or a conveniently on-the-go as Indian styled tapas (think tandoori seared chicken).  Indian food is delicious, fresh, and easy to make for quick service.

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In supermarkets, the curry section is no longer a few bricks of seasonings mixed in with the rest of the tiny Asian section. Brands that are selling easy to make Indian sides or even main dishes such as Tasty Bite, Maya Kaimal’s simmer sauces, and Patak’s are starting to take over shelf space. These products paving opportunities to make Indian at home without the usual length of preparation time. The millennial appreciation for more and more complex flavors is adding to the popularity of Indian food today.

Thanks for reading along and let us know where you’re seeing Indian cuisine pop up in the comments section below.

Cheers!

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June 11th, 2018

Single-Focus Restaurants Offer New Benefits

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends

Single-Focus Concepts Are Bringing a New Norm

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Instead of looking for the best restaurant specializing in a regional cuisine, how about looking for a restaurant that specializes in the best execution of a single item?

If this idea seems strange to you, it shouldn’t. According to Datassential, 46% of consumers are looking for these types of single-focus restaurants. This change in the tide may come with some discomfort, but for food producers, there are many benefits.

Focusing on the production of a single item allows a restaurant to do several things, including: Minimize overhead, reduce stock, streamline operations, reduce waste, easily replicate kitchen and menu designs, experiment with flavor in a low-risk environment, and, perhaps most importantly, focus on quality.

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For manufacturers, single-focus concepts give opportunities to create foods with exotic flavors and unique attributes that otherwise might have not had an audience in the past, find creative ways to cross-utilize ingredients to reduce waste, bring in new talent to update the creative process, and develop new distribution avenues thanks additionally to the continued rise in global flavors.

Macbar in New York focuses on making a variety of high quality macaroni and cheese, including flavors like chipotle chili and cognac and tarragon. Super Chix, based out of Dallas, TX, focuses on the production of high-quality chicken sandwiches and diversifies them with an array of sauces including Nashville Hot, Mississippi Comeback, and Sweet BBQ.

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Brooklyn’s Arancini Bros. focuses on, as the name eludes, savory balls of breaded and fried risotto rice. Flavor offerings include spicy buffalo with Gorgonzola cheese, classic ragu, and Pizzaiola (tomato-braised steak). And finally, a personal favorite of mine, Ramen Tatsu-Ya based out of Austin, TX, sets it’s sights on making a variety of craveable ramen bowls made with a spectrum of sauces including Thai chili and habanero, chunky red pepper paste, and Japanese citrus with Serrano, jalapeno, and garlic.

Single-focus restaurants will continue to stretch the limits of the consumer’s palates with new flavor experimentation, rapid flexibility, and increasing food quality. Their efficiency and scalability will allow for fast growth and broad distribution, making them a prime asset for food manufacturers. In order to keep the pace, manufacturers need to remain focused on trends and adopt levels of versatility not previously seen in the industry.

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