Joe's Crab Shack steam pots

Consumers may see more see more use of raw fish, whole fish, fish tacos and all-in-one pot feasts at restaurants in the future, according to Aaron Noveshen, founder of The Culinary Edge in San Francisco.

Noveshen outlined what suppliers and manufacturers can expect for upcoming restaurant trends during Monday's Boston Seafood Show conference session, “Coast to Coast Innovation: Five Profit-Driving Trends from America’s Top Independent Seafood Restaurants.”

The first trend is raw seafood, including sushi, crudo and ceviche. The latest product development in this area has been crudo, menued at such upscale restaurants as Esca in New York and Bar Crudo in San Francisco. Crudo is raw fish either paired with other flavors or slightly marinated or garnished. As of this month, there are 92 menus in New York mentioning crudo, according to TCE Research.

Part of the raw trend includes ceviche, which has a little better consumer acceptance than raw fish. Noveshen cited several restaurants that have ceviche on their menus, including La Mer in San Francisco, which has five locations worldwide operated by Peruvian Chef Gaston Acurio.

Noveshen noted that the No. 1 challenge with taking the sushi/crudo/ceviche trend mainstream beyond independents is finding a seafood species to menu that has a consistent supply.

The second trend is whole fish, which has slowly gained menu acceptance he said.

"Americans traditionally are afraid of looking at food that looks back at them. The tide is starting to change that,” said Noveshen. While this product trend won’t go mainstream tomorrow, some operators have developed ways to process fish while keeping the head on but creating a more user-friendly product at the restaurant level.

tacos was the third trend, with mega chain Taco Bell just announcing a new fish taco addition to its menu in the past month. This menu option has a lot of healthy menu applications with a low price point for operators, noted Noveshen.

All-in-one pot feasts was the fourth trend cited, including Joe’s Crab Shack’s recently introduced Steampots.
“There is huge opportunity in this space for manufacturers and producers to create seafood kits for a big, sharable item [at the restaurant level] for lots of people,” he said.

The last trend cited in the seminar was sustainability. Noveshen recommended restaurant operators be as transparent as possible when discussing the topic with customers.

“Don’t hide. Take a stance and do something that is meaningful to your brand and your customers. Be real about it,” said Noveshen.

More coverage of the 2010 International Boston Seafood Show >

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