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The Food Service Industry: Redefining American Mealtime

November 11, 2009 Le Cordon Bleu Pittsburgh 0 Comments

In the last four decades, the food service industry has experienced some of its most prosperous and exciting years. A staple of American family tradition, dining out has developed into a daily custom, like bathing regularly and watering plants. To put into perspective the food industry's magnitude of impact on the American way of life, here's a brief look at its evolution and future outlook.

A Family Custom

A quaint, home cooked meal set atop a dinner table surrounded by parents and children -- the perfect picture of traditional American dining. Dinnertime used to signify the gathering of families and a time to share in the day's events -- same time, same place. Today, the dinner bell has been replaced by a honking horn, followed by boisterous squabbles over the restaurant selection. The kitchen table is passed up for a comfy seat on the couch and spot in front of the TV. And home cooking is considered any food that requires an oven. As life's pace has quickened over the years, we’ve become more and more reliant upon pre-made and pre-packaged meals. The food service industry has met the consumer demand by offering convenience, entertainment, and flavor.

Fresh, Wholesome Goodness

The food service industry is continuing to grow as the majority of Americans increasingly rely upon restaurant fare to fill their stomachs and save time. Despite the obvious health benefits of home cooking, taking the time to prepare a meal is often the last priority for our fast-paced, workaholic society. Assistance is necessary. Fortunately, there are many restaurant options available today that offer wholesome, nutrient-rich meals. Because maintaining our waistlines is a top priority, many food vendors offer nutrition facts for menu items and some cities even mandate that such charts are displayed to the public.

Redefining Dining Out

Although it may seem fairly commonsensical for restaurants to provide customers with food facts, such a requirement was unheard of not too long ago. Historically, dining out was considered a time to self indulge and take a holiday from diet restrictions. Today, as more and more people rely upon food service to get through daily life, the responsibility of restaurants to look out for their cliental has undoubtedly increased, causing a hot debate. Nevertheless, dinner out on the town continues to be an occasion that brings friends and family together. It's a classic symbol of togetherness and community celebration.

The Future of Food Service

How will the food service industry adapt to the weakening economy and a consumer market less willing to empty their pockets for a good meal? With budgets growing tighter and times getting tougher, many families are revisiting the fundamentals of what makes dinner meaningful. They're now saving time to cook at home and spend time with loved ones. The consumer wants to reconnect to the comfort of home, so many restaurants are offering up their kitchens in order to keep customers happy. By offering tools, guidance and ingredients to prepare professional quality meals, these "new age" food vendors are defining the next era of food service. And with it comes a new appreciation for dining out -- an experience to be cherished, like past generations once did.

This article is presented by The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute offers Le Cordon Bleu culinary education classes and culinary training programs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Pittsburgh for more information.

PCI does not guarantee employment or salary.

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