Published Date:  Monday, September 24, 2018

5 Ways to Harness the Shareable Trend

Coinciding with the rise in communal dining culture, small plates and appetizers are not only becoming more unconventional, but these complex, composed dishes are outshining entrees. Smaller portions that pack a punch are offering diners the chance to try multiple dishes and chefs the chance to flex their creativity.

“People like variety and to try as many dishes as possible for the amount of money they’re spending,” says Robert Birnschein, former chef de cuisine at San Francisco’s Tratto. “It’s more about the experience now. When I’m out, I buy a bunch of small plates to share.”

Customers realize for an entree price, they get three or four small plates or appetizers and the chance to sample various flavors while enjoying plenty of food, says Guara Pimenta, executive chef at Boston’s Les Zygomates.

Chefs say the growing target market of millennials wants several distinctly different, interesting flavors instead of coursed-out meals.

With consumers seeking out bolder interpretations, trends in small plates and appetizers are leaning toward nostalgic foods with modern twists, international cuisines, vegan and vegetarian plates, strong focuses on fresh, seasonal, local ingredients, and more composed dishes.

1. Nostalgic Noshes

Dishes of years past are twisted into plates with contemporary ingredients that taste better than ever. “What is old can be new again, and the biggest thing is that cool, old-school dishes are brought on with great produce to make them interesting and fresh for guests,” says James Booth, chef de cuisine at Cambridge, Massachusetts’ ArtBar. “Especially now with restaurants going hyper-local with farms and small-batch items with backstories, you get tons of flavor and that works well with small plates and appetizers.”