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Gastronomic concepts

How restaurants, bars, and cafés are pulling in the crowds

Café owner optimizes gastronomy concept on iPad

If there's one thing today's restaurateurs need, it's a feel for food trends and social issues. Only if you keep pace with the times can you understand your customers – and offer them an extraordinary culinary experience.

Read here which innovative concepts are currently attracting attention in gastronomic circles and why nowadays, professional dishwashing technology is a must in thriving kitchens.

Do you know which country has the most restaurants with three Michelin stars?

It's Japan. Japan has 29 restaurants in this category. France comes a close second with 27 gourmet eateries. And Germany boasts ten three-star establishments.

Source: "Trois Etoiles" blog on fine cuisine (as of: 17 July 2019)

Three innovative gastronomic concepts that are all the rage

1. Dark und ghost kitchens

Trend: food delivery 

What is this?

A successful restaurant with no seating, guests, or service? It can actually work! According to the concept of 'dark' or 'ghost' kitchens, restaurants sell their meals entirely via online delivery services. All that the restaurants need is: a kitchen, staff, and a reliable courier service that picks the food up and delivers it to the customers.

Chef stands in a dark kitchen in front of a steaming pan
'Dark kitchen' doesn't mean that the chefs cook in the dark. Instead, it's used to describe restaurants who operate a delivery service alongside their main business

Where can you find these?

London is a real hotspot for this concept. The city has 'dark kitchens' at a host of transport hubs. Sometimes they're integrated in a shipping container, other times in a metal box under nearby railway arches. In short: authentic delivery cuisine succeeds with modern equipment and in just a few square metres.

What's special about this?

Contrary to what their name suggests, dark kitchens aren't always in the dark. What the concept actually means is that restaurants operate separate kitchens exclusively for delivery services alongside their main business. So the meal preparation process remains in the dark, so to speak. From wok-based Asian cuisine, pizzas, and burgers through to sushi, virtual delivery kitchens in cities (almost) cover the entire culinary spectrum.

Dirty pots and pans are piled up in the kitchen's sink
After you've cooked up a storm it's time to deal with the dishes. Professional dishwashing technology from MEIKO delivers excellent dishwashing results in near-record time

Order with professional dishwashing machines

Things often get lively in the cramped dark kitchens. Pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils quickly pile up in the sink. Time is money – particularly for delivery services and restaurants. So there's no getting around the need for professional, space-saving dishwashing technology. In cases like this, an FV series industrial dishwasher from MEIKO is recommended. These powerhouses are ideal for stubborn incrustations and coarse dirt. The all-rounders can deal with up to 30 racks full of pots and pans per hour. And all this with an incredible drying result and virtually no steam. The water change programme ensures that reliably hygienic washing results are achieved for pots, pans, and everything else that needs washing up. This makes a crucial difference – especially in cramped, hectic kitchens with high throughput!

Eat what you want, where and when you want. This is the idea behind food delivery: a trend that has long since established itself, particularly in urban environments. Many delivery services for 'dark kitchens' are thriving, and the market is currently exploding in large cities such as London.

2. Foraging

Trend: back to nature

What is this?

Abandoning the city for the joys of nature. Nowadays, an increasing number of chefs are turning to fresh ingredients from local woodlands. Pesto made from mountain pines, fried lichen, and roasted fir cones – 'forest cuisine' offers an infinite quantity of variations and represents a concept of rootedness and regionality. The aim of the chefs is to simulate a walk in the woods in the minds of their customers. Many diners highlight the intensive, earthy flavour of the woodland dishes.

Where can you find these?

Ganze Kochbücher zur Waldküche existieren bereits. Allerdings tasten sich Gastronomen bislang nur sehr behutsam an das Konzept heran. In Südtirol, Dänemark und der Schweiz gibt es jedoch bereits Hotels und Gaststätten, die das Konzept umsetzen. Doch Obacht! Betreiber von Restaurants unterliegen grundsätzlich strengen Hygienevorschriften. Um die Lebensmittelsicherheit zu gewährleisten, müssen Sie gemäß EU-Hygieneverordnung über ein einwandfreies HACCP Konzept verfügen.

What's special about this?

In stark contrast to the highly stylized 'molecular gastronomy', 'forest' food focuses on creative foraging with natural ingredients. The careful gathering and preparation of mushrooms, berries, and herbs ensures a high degree of sustainability. What you get on your plate is whatever Mother Nature provides. Summary: a really trendsetting concept with a huge potential for surprises when it comes to taste!

Freshly picked mushrooms and herbs are prepared on a chopping board
Authentic, earthy, fresh – flavoursome mushroom and herb varieties aren't the only things flourishing in the forests. Depending on the season, entire menus can be served from woodland ingredients

"There is an overabundance for customers – Italian food, Thai food, molecular gastronomy, vegan cuisine – these trends are following on from each other faster and faster."
Barbara Untermarzoner
(manager and head chef of the 4-star Tann hotel in South Tyrol –

3. Robotic kitchen – fast health food

Trend: digital kitchen 4.0

Robot stands in the kitchen preparing food
Is this what a restaurant kitchen of the future looks like? In the meantime, robotics systems assist kitchen staff with the preparation of dishes in so-called 'robotic kitchens'

What is this?

An entire menu prepared just by robot hands? This is already a reality in so-called fast health food restaurants. At least almost. The guests first place their order via touchpad in the restaurant. A robotic system in the kitchen then receives the command and supports the kitchen staff in preparing the desired dishes. As soon as the food is ready to serve, a conveyor belt takes it to the restaurant area. There, the customer only has to enter the payment code at one of the glass output boxes. Bon Appétit ...

Where can you find these?

According to KTCHNrebel, the international online magazine for professional chefs, Eatsa in San Francisco is a pioneer in the field of 'fast health food'. Customers eating at this restaurant, which was founded in 2015, can order, eat, and pay for their food without interacting with any human service staff. A comparable restaurant concept has existed in Berlin since the end of 2016 in the form of the 'Data Kitchen'.

What's special about this?

High-quality meals with seasonal and regional ingredients – and ready in only a few minutes? Previously unthinkable. Yet now, customers can have tasty, healthy, and top-quality meals on their plates in an instant, thanks to digital kitchen technology. A milestone in the catering industry!

What's up next?

Admittedly, the search for a modern, yet authentic restaurant concept is not an easy one for restaurateurs. And yet the ideas presented here serve as inspiration, showing what is possible with a little bit of creativity and a good nose for trends. More insights and ideas can be found here on our website: