December 15, 2006

Restaurants say they will make portions smaller

Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research and information at the National Restaurant Association's association, said consumer trends in 2006 forecast that restaurateurs will be moving away from trans fats and larger portions in 2007 on their own.

"American consumers, in terms of portion size today, have a greater variety than at any time," Riehle said.

"Restaurants are becoming homes away from home for today's busy Americans who are looking for exciting culinary experiences, and restaurants continue to deliver those experiences," said Steven C. Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the Association. "In addition to serving as a social oasis for busy individuals, restaurants also use technology solutions to enhance the dining experience. Chefs are keeping a close eye on emerging trends and are getting creative with ethnic influences and exotic ingredients, while the restaurant operators are making the dining experience more convenient than ever."

A survey of more than 1,000 chefs shows that some of the hottest menu trends are bite-sized desserts, locally grown and organic produce, flatbread and bottled water. Additional "hot" items include pomegranates; figs; grass-fed and free-range meat; fresh herbs and exotic mushrooms; whole-grain breads and focaccia; Mediterranean, Latin American and Pan Asian fusion cuisines; salts, aged meats and ginger; pan-seared, grilled and braised items; specialty sandwiches; and Asian appetizers.

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