Add tea, culture and freshness to the menu this year

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Culture and sustainability are trending on fast food menus this year. If they aren't on a chef's menu, he or she should consider getting them up and running because they're what the people want, according to QSR magazine. Those who don't keep up could find they're losing clients to one of the other abundantly accommodating restaurant competitors in the area. Here are some ways to keep up with the quick serve trends of the year.

Farm fresh
People want to know a little bit about everything. The Internet and television have allowed people the ability to consume just about everything at rapid speed. Everyone wants to know more and more, and this trend has made its way into restaurants. People want to know what they're eating and where it came from. Chipotle was touted as a primary example of a restaurant that's doing it right when it comes to this trend, according to QSR. The company has made its success out of providing clients with local and fresh ingredients while offering up the origins of that food – something that not every place offers. 

Finding locally sourced foods is exactly what it sounds like. Chefs are increasingly purchasing vegetables and meats from a nearby farm as opposed to a place across the country or world. This trend could be taking off because people are more concerned with sustainability, stated Sustainable Table. However, sustainability and buying local don't mean the exact same thing. Labeling a food "local" doesn't mean that it meets nutrition and quality standards set by sustainable products, according to Sustainable Table. 

Cultural enrichment
Aside from requesting farm-fresh quality, people want their food to have a little ethnic flair to it. As QSR stated, flavors from abroad will be taking over menus this year. Asian influence is expected to top the list among other nationalities, like Central and South American.

Southeast Asian foods, such as banh mi and pho, have already become quite popular in restaurants. They're trending now more than ever because world cultures are becoming more integrated. A decade ago, chefs grouped all Asian food into one category, and today it's broken up into Vietnamese, Thai and more, director of research for Chicago-based foodservice firm Technomic told FSR magazine. 

It's time for tea
Finally, restaurateurs can expect to see a movement from the traditional uses of teas as aperitif or accompaniments to desserts, as it's becoming a more typical main ingredient, stated QSR. It could be increasingly used in dishes such as tea-poached salmon or in chicken dishes, culinary consultant Kazia Jankowski told the magazine. People are drawn to it because of its tannins and bitter flavors. 

Full-service establishments are also seeing tea takeover in the realm of cocktails. Professionals from Denver-based restaurant The Kitchen have been mixing autumn spices with chamomile and apple juice, according to Specialty Food. In the way that restaurants have traditionally paired up with wine and beer companies, they're now teaming up with tea distributors. Together they're learning about the ways alcohol and tea mix to make sweet creations. According to the article, tea is becoming more popular because it offers health benefits and because people are generally curious.

Restaurateurs can help consumers explore these new areas of interest by offering menu items that are locally sourced, culturally rich and downright unique. Keeping up with these exciting trends can help a fast food establishment maintain an edge on competition while making the customer happy. 

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