COVID-19 is the latest example of transition and change experienced by the hospitality workforce. As with previous challenges, the hospitality industry will learn, evolve, adapt and ultimately prevail. When the dust finally settles, everyone will still have to eat. And, the immediate future of hospitality will involve an increased range of options in product and service for the customer.
Leading the charge in food trends for 2020 is dietary requirements; long considered alternate but rapidly becoming mainstream. Dairy free, gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, keto, paleo, and whole-foods plant-based are just a few of the hottest and fastest dining choices demanding attention. There are no fewer than six different plant-based milk alternatives that customers now expect to be available on the espresso menu with oat milk being the newest kid on the block. If food establishments have not already adopted some of these options into their product line, they are most probably missing out on a significant and growing market.
In ever growing numbers customers demand that hospitality businesses demonstrate purpose and a sincere social conscience, which includes utilising local, fresh, seasonal and regional products. Supporting boutique farmers and smaller food producers and suppliers that in turn contributes to a sustainable local economy is considered a respected quality for any hospitality business.
A visible effort to environmental sustainability and minimisation of the hospitality industry's impact on the natural world are now a given. Paper straws, biodegradable packaging and reduced food waste are just some of the most basic expectations of today’s customers.
This evolution of the contemporary restaurant menu and customer expectations require a whole new generation of hospitality workers. They now require intimate knowledge of specialised dietary requirements, contemporary service skills such as trendy espresso making, craft beer knowledge, a strong relationship with local farmers and food suppliers, and a genuine concern for improving the environment.
However, staff trained in the fundamentals of good customer service, basic cooking skills will always underpin a successful hospitality business. The future of the hospitality industry will require highly trained entrepreneurs who can marry the core essentials of great product and service with modern and constantly evolving trends in the marketplace.
Chef Ford has more than 30 years of experience in the food service industry. He’s a professional chef, published author, and leading vocational teacher. Passionate about food, he is also heavily involved in his industry and local community.