What does this mean for today's chef who is eager to hop on the small, sharable plate bandwagon but doesn't know where to begin? At Roots: Innovate 2017 we will be hosting a panel with leading experts who will help chefs and other restaurant professionals navigate the new way that we eat today.
The tasting menu still has a place in the hearts of many and the more traditional way of ordering a dish that is large enough for a single diner is not going anywhere, but more often than not, today's diner is also eager to order plates that can be shared and discussed with their fellow diners who are experiencing the same flavors, textures and sensations.
It's this enthusiasm for a mutual experience that is driving this sharable trend that often affords more fun, discussion and spontaneity at the restaurant table. Small plates are also reflective of the street food fixation that many diners have and are unwilling to shelve when they sit down to a meal at a more traditional establishment. Small, sharable plates reflect the one or two bite dishes that makes street food so quirky, whimsical and unexpected.
This dining trend also reflects the guest who is more aware and concerned about issues such as food waste because it's much less likely that portions of a small dish will be left behind since the size is more manageable and if one diner doesn't eat it, it's quite likely that a fellow diner will jump at the opportunity.
Small, sharable plates also enable the guest to experience more diversity in their meal and to not feel so concerned if a specific dish doesn't appeal to them. It leaves more room for surprises too and it also creates a more adventurous experience since a diner is more willing to take a chance on an ingredient they're not quite sure about since the commitment is small and the dish will surely appeal to someone at the table, if not everyone.
This means that each small dish has to be packed with enough flavor, color and texture to impress the eyes and palate in a single bite or two. It also means that there needs to be a thread in a restaurant menu that strings these dishes together in some capacity.
At our Roots: Innovate, participants will learn first-hand about what makes a shared plate menu successful, what beverages are ideal pairings for this new style of dining and how everything can be tied together into a cohesive, but still shared, whole. Presenters and participants will examine how to maximize on flavor in order to make every bite count and also how to create a menu that entices diners to order a wide variety of dishes and emboldens them to take chances on something unfamiliar and new.