Latest restaurant food trends served up at LA expo

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- There were no consumers at the Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo. Instead, 10,000 restaurant and hospitality professionals met at the LA Convention Center looking for the next big thing.

Ron Mathews, vice president of Western FoodService Expo said health is a big topic at the table.

"Consumers are looking for trends. What they see here translates directly to the menus.

"They're looking for healthy, they're looking for gluten free, they're looking for low salt, they want better portions, they want localized food," said Mathews.

And apparently we want it the way we want it. California Restaurant Association spokesperson Sharokina Shams says what we've experienced at Subway, then Chipotle, even pizza spots, is gaining ground in fast casual restaurants: Picking and choosing your entree.

"It's nice to be able to have that interactivity so you can see what goes into the meals so you can make those choices for your health," said Shams.

What's really trending is Hispanic and Latino flavors. That's because this population has grown 43 percent here in America in the last decade. What they're serving is front and center.

"The general public doesn't understand that Latinos, we don't just eat chips and salsa every day. We're not eating burritos every day," said Lilly Rocha, CEO of the Sabor Latino Food Show.

She says the traditional foods are here, but they are also representing more sophisticated foods.

"One of my favorites is the guava," said Rocha.

That's found in agua frescas and horchatas.

"Today we're featuring the torta ahogada," she said.

That's a Mexican sandwich - street food from Guadalajara.

In addition to fun flavors, 450 booths offer new concepts for the front of the house to the back. Sushi-making machines, recyclable tableware and ready-made pastas and sauces are just a few of the appetizing ideas.
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