I love innovation in all forms. Technology, design and new dining experiences.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to speak with Mo Jessa, President of Earls Restaurants. Mo just opened the new restaurant, Earls 67 in Calgary, Alberta. An innovative restaurant which is looking at new ways to dine out. Mo shared with me the latest in dining trends.

What are the new dining and food trends this year?

Restaurants that don’t force you into an experience they want you to have, rather anticipating your different needs and designing the restaurant around those needs.

Multi-purpose spaces for multi-purpose uses.

People are entertaining less at home, meeting friends at engaging places that suit their mood. They want to experience many different things in a restaurant.

What are micro and macro food trends?

Consumers are desperate to trust that the food that they eat is sustainable, and responsibly sourced and produced. They want to order freely, knowing they can trust the restaurant they are dining in to have done that due diligence for them.

Restraint and consumption – Guests want the option to order with restraint; clean food, raw foods, low or no gluten, healthy ingredients that are addictive because of the flavours, yet (sort of) guilt free. They want to reward themselves for that restraint with consumption of “more” later in the week; a great glass of wine, less healthy choices, a shot of great tequila, an amazing, goopy, cheese burger.

Good junk food. Taking a junk food inspiration, reimagining it with real or fresh ingredients. Nostalgia.

Keep it simple spirits. Understanding that not everyone wants a complicated craft cocktail, sometimes they just want a simple spirit and mix.

Perfect spirits. Perfect simple mixes. A house made soda perhaps, or a small glass bottle of real coke.

Refined sugar is the new gluten. Like low glycemic starches, less refined sugar makes the sweet, perhaps not healthy, but less unhealthy – or the fix, a plain soda flavoured with a kola tincture for example.

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How is the restaurant and dining experience evolving?

Tailored experience – consumers what to be in control of everything. What they put in their bodies… they want to have the ability to use the restaurant/menu in a way that fits the reason that they are there, providing something for everybody.

Private booths and long tables, tailored for whatever experience you are seeking.

Why is this occurring (the evolution in dining experiences)?

Increased urbanization, smaller living spaces, and busy lives. People are using restaurants in different ways (e.g. hosting dinner parties). The pressure of spending all day cooking or rushing home to cook a meal for visitors is too much for many working people, instead, buy some great local beers and order takeout for everyone, or host them for dinner in their favourite local restaurant, the Parisian way.

What are the new flavours and tastes that are coming out now?

Middle Eastern ingredients/flavours (not dishes) like annatto seed, nigella seeds – bold flavours, spices, heat.

Central South American – Peruvian (Lima top new restaurants in London and South American chefs are being recognized on the world stage).

Not food “inspired” from the culture but authentic food from the culture.

Avocado.

Keep it simple – back to basics – elevating the experience of a highball.

Food as fun – turning away from the earnestness of foodie culture and searching for food as fun.

Surprises like preserved lemon. A food profile from another culture, tossed into a dish you would not expect to see it.

Clean food, less gluten, less sugar, nothing artificial and nothing processed.

Addictive food. You just ordered one, and you have to order another. Even if it’s a veggie dip.

Creamy textures without cream.

Even the sweet has acid so your palate is kept fresh.

Tinctures and bitters that provide a familiar taste without the “Bad” stuff. Kola tincture with soda, rootbeer bitters, flavours that add layers and familiar flavours without calories, weight or guilt.

Free filtered water, flat and sparkling – it’s like charging for air, seriously?

Driven by the culture of the neighbourhood.

Any other food or dining trends coming in the near future?

Casual sipping

Attitudes to alcohol drinking are undergoing a major shift as increasingly convivial consumers move away from drinking to get drunk, to sipping to stay social. It’s not about getting drunk, it’s actually about spending time with friends and using it as a social enabler.

Nostalgia and comfort in a fresh, current reimaging.

Raw foods incorporated into mainstream recipes.

Experience bars – i.e. what you experienced on your last holiday.
I will be thinking about all of these great dining tips and trends this summer!

Your suggestions are always welcome, as I continue on my journey to live life to the fullest.Let’s have the very best summer ever!

Disclosure: This video was partially sponsored by the businesses featured in this video. This video and post also appear in SachaD.com, and all opinions in the post and video are completely my own.

Visit Sacha daily at SachaD.com
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