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Tearing Down the Barriers in Fast Casual 2.0

If you’re a regular reader of QSR, you know that we’re betting on an emerging segment known as fast casual 2.0. With everything from chef-created menus and superior beverage programs to responsibly sourced ingredients and an emphasis on hospitality, these are the players who are taking the lead in limited service and giving casual dining a run for its money.

What Not to Do in Your Restaurant This Year

Sprinkled throughout this story are suggestions and innovations from restaurant owners and operators, culminating in a presentation of 100 Best Practices to consider for 2017. We thought this list would be a fun and productive way to kick off the New Year, but a list that could be just as important is what not to do.

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Hope & Harmony Farm

Nothing Beats Eating on the Farm

There’s only one thing better than eating in a farm-to-table restaurant—that would be eating on the farm itself. I was treated to this very experience when I visited Hope & Harmony Farms in eastern Virginia, on a food tour hosted by the National Peanut Board.

The Restaurant Industry is Ripe for Gigging

I was into the gig philosophy long before it became the hip lifestyle and economy wave of the future. I’ve valued it from both sides of the paycheck: Hiring talented contract columnists and freelancers to contribute to FSR and, years ago, as a footloose editor who preferred to write on the fly, sometimes in the midnight hours.

Teaching Chefs How to Taste

I learn something new in every interview, especially when I’m talking with leaders at the top culinary schools. One of the most interesting takeaways from this issue is the concept of teaching chefs to taste—an idea introduced by Peter Lehmuller, dean of the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University.

Waste Less, Share More

Funny how we can rewrite history to suit romanticized notions of what might have been. We see that now, as relations with Cuba have shifted and many want to reinvent a nostalgic period that—quite possibly—existed more in the imagination than anywhere in the island nation.

A Bright Future Ahead for Independents

I’m going to bet the first place every reader goes in this issue is page 40, our story on the Top 100 Independent Operators. Everyone wants to see who’s on the list, and who’s not.Then there’s the next obvious question: Why state capitals? Because that ensures we recognize leading independent operators in small and mid-size cities throughout the country—something we endeavor to do throughout the year, but especially in our annual tribute to Top 100 Indies.

Buzzy Happenings

A few months back when we were in the throes of planning and writing this issue, the U.S. Beverage Industry Expo was underway in Washington, D.C. Out of that conference came the suggestion that the industry has entered a “new normal” in beverage alcohol, driven by “disruptive” consumer behavior.

Food Authenticity

Authenticity. That’s the word that kept coming to mind as we polished off this issue. In most instances, the conversation about authenticity involved food—the integrity of the food supply, the healthy attributes of dishes, the purity or simplicity of techniques in preparing food.

Table the Smartphone Chatter

Guilty as charged, at least when it comes to texting at the table.I try really hard to curb that compulsive habit when I’m out with friends, but catch me dining solo and the cellphone is in my hand—almost as often as the flatware.