Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Technology on the front burner, culinary survey says

Professional chefs see tablets and smartphones as the hottest tech trends for next year, the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 What’s Hot culinary forecast has found.

The food trends survey, conducted with approximately 1,300 professional chef-members from the American Culinary Federation, mirrors what restaurant operators and consumers say about restaurant technology – it can facilitate customer service, enhance order speed and accuracy, and promote back-of-the-house efficiencies. When asked about the hottest technology trends for 2015, here’s what chefs said: 
  • 29 percent of respondents said tablet computers, such as iPads, would be used to showcase menus, wine lists and facilitate ordering
  • 26 percent indicated that smartphone and tablet apps for consumers, especially those featuring menus, daily deals and facilitate menu ordering
  • 22 percent agreed that smartphone and tablet apps for chef/restaurateur use would be helpful in tracking recipes, table management and POS data, and
  • 21 percent said mobile and/or wireless payment options would factor in as a key trend.

“With technology becoming a daily part of our lives, consumers are increasingly building their tech expectations into the dining experience,” said Annika Stensson, the NRA’s senior manager of research communications. “iPad menus and smartphone apps have been around for several years now, but as consumer acceptance and understanding of those tools grow, so is the chef’s attention to them as service enhancers.”

Respondents were generally upbeat about consumers’ increased use of social media, especially regarding the posting of restaurant food photographs. The survey found:
  • 57 percent of chefs said social-media postings of food photographs is free advertising and should be encouraged
  • 32 percent said it’s fine as long as guests are discreet as they post photos, and
  • 9 percent said the practice is disruptive and should be discouraged.

“We’ve all seen them – fellow diners who snap pictures of their food and drink and upload them to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook,” Stensson said. “Chefs have noticed this too. It turns out chefs generally think it’s a good thing that guests share their food experiences in the social-media universe. Only about one in 10 said it doesn’t belong in their dining rooms.”

For more information on the What’s Hot culinary trends forecast, go here.

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