Menu trend expert Nancy Kruse will give a keynote presentation at this year’s MUFSO SuperShow, taking place in Dallas Sept. 29 – Oct. 1.

Last year, Kruse gave her State of the Plate address during a breakout session for people interested in culinary issues in the foodservice industry, but this year she will address all attendees of the foodservice conference in a general session from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 30, at the Hyatt Regency at Reunion Tower.

For more than a decade, Kruse, president of The Kruse Company, a regular contributor to Nation’s Restaurant News and one of the most respected restaurant consultants in the country, has given her State of the Plate address to attendees of NRN’s Culinary R&D and Menu Trends & Directions conferences, which were attended mostly by chain restaurant executives involved in menu development. Those menu-related meetings were folded into the MUFSO conference last year as the annual gathering of chain executives was broadened to encompass operational, marketing and culinary tracks after NRN was purchased by Penton Media Inc. in December 2010.


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“Menus are changing so fast, and the lines between segments are blurring to the point of invisibility: lobster sandwiches in QSR, mac ‘n’ cheese in fine dining, and dayparts disintegrating everywhere,” said Penton Restaurant Group publisher Chris Keating in explaining the decision to move Kruse’s talk to a general session. “Nobody stays on top of these trends and presents them in as engaging a style as Nancy Kruse.”

In her address last year, Nancy Kruse pointed to five “menu newsmakers” — chicken, eggs, Greek food, corn and crunchy food. She noted that low commodity prices were driving even non-chicken specialists, from Wienerschnitzel to McDonald’s, to add more chicken items. She called eggs the “ingredient of the year” and explained to attendees how they were being served deviled, poached and fried at various chains.

Kruse also presaged the growing popularity of Greek food that has occurred over the past year, observed how corn, ranging from Mexican-style elote to Central and South American arepas to variations on the corn dog, had spread over the past year.

In the crunchy realm, she noted how crispy skin — on pork, duck and chicken — had surfaced at independent restaurants, while chains were adding crunch with ingredients such as waffle chips at Baskin-Robbins and crispy fried onions at Steak & Shake.

In addition, Kruse pointed to five pillars that were driving menu development: freshness, flavor, premiumization, customization and miniaturization.

As for this year’s State of the Plate, Kruse said she’s still researching the latest trends for her September speech.

“I’m still stockpiling data,” she said, but added that she would likely isolate hot menu trends related to grains and produce, and also take a look at what specific flavors were trending in foodservice. She said she’ll also probably touch on buzzwords restaurants were using to promote healthful items, such as “power,” “skinny,” and “super.”

For more information and to register, call 813-627-6992 or visit MUFSO.com. Operators who register before July 1 get a 25-percent discount on registration by using the promo code NNMF13.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary