This article is based off of my latest interview with Dan Follese. We really dug deep in how Dan finds innovation and how to implement them.
I love finding new ways to implement new things and you realize Dan’s tips are really focused on what is around your area.
So in this article, I wanted to really dive in on how Dan innovates and maybe I’ll find a way to use his methods for my own.
Dan mentions 3 tips about finding trends: looking and the local market, seeing the hottest trends, and then takes a more selfish approach… what matters to me?
The Local Market
Farmer’s markets are the best place for innovation because of the low barrier to entry. Bigger cities will have more innovative products.
Living in Phoenix, we have some cool things, but most of the good food leans toward traditional. The farmer’s markets are a bit more artisanal in nature and not so exotic compared to other places like San Francisco.
The next step up is actually artisan food places such as Whole Foods, which focuses on getting trendy products in their stores. Though now a days, whole foods does keep their hot items, once they become conventional, you’ve lost your chance.
The Hottest Restaurants on Yelp
If you’re a foodie like me, you probably go to a new place and then when you’re hungry, you search yelp.
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I pick out 5 pieces of content from the latest food industry news to the greatest new products and leave my snarky comments every week.
Since I travel a lot, I yearn for good local food in which sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. Yelp is definitively a good starting resource to find something new in a new city. Though sometimes, asking a local person off the street is the next best thing.
If you love food, I highly recommend being a yelp reviewer. I was an Elite in 2016 when I used to do an Asian food blog (which I had to give up in place of this). Being an elite is awesome because you get to go to so many cool events and get free food!
I have to say, in Arizona, poke (sushi in a bowl) is huge! Maybe a year of being here, about 6 places have popped up. I remember 2 years ago in college; acai bowls were starting to rear its head.
What Matters To Me?
This answer was surprising to me, but when I thought about it, it’s actually not a bad answer. With so much information going around and everyone shouting out what’s innovative or not,
Innovation is indeed everywhere and even local scenes might not have an answer. For example, we discuss the power of the naked chicken chalupa from taco bell. I assure you, this will not be the last chicken masterpiece.
Overall, you can’t go wrong choosing even one trend. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you for implementing a risky trend is to pair it with something familiar. Chef Dan Follese, for example, noticed smoked gouda to be a trend so he just added it to an Arby’s special and boom, an awesome trend!
If you live in a city and you’re craving for new food, it’s ironically hard to go out of your way to find good restaurants.
Here are a few resources I use:
Local papers: Every city has a local food section and it’s easier than ever to find it on the internet. In the Phoenix New Times, there are articles every day on the latest chef, the latest food festival, and the latest weird food thing.
Food bloggers: There are tons of interesting food bloggers in Phoenix and I find that their findings are more innovative than the papers. I’m friends with a few food bloggers for instance, and I am absolutely amazing at the things they go to. Some of my favorites are Write on Rubee, AZ Foodie, and Phoenix Bites. There are probably more in your area… if there isn’t, then this is a great opportunity to make something. The world needs you!
Food festivals: At least in Arizona, food festivals showcase Arizona’s best foods. The ones I recommend are Devour PHX, Sips and Sweets, and Scottsdale Culinary Festival as that’s where the chefs really bust out the big, creative guns. This is also a great place to look at new trends as the chefs really can showcase practically anything here.
So these resources can be paralleled in your city. Anywhere you live in, whether college town, or suburb, you will probably have resources like this and the best part is, you can have them all in one place as long as you have a facebook account.