Freeman Moser III, Senior Executive Chef
Customization allows you to create a unique interaction with your diner. I saw Pine & Gilmore deliver a lecture years ago about mass customization, where they stressed the need in recognizing that customers are "markets of one." That resonates deeply in today's foodservice culture. Fast casuals are succeeding here: Panera Bread's "You Pick 2™" is a great example of allowing diners to choose their experience. QSRs are getting into the game. For example, boutique burger chains are carving a niche because of that customization, where they're willing to jeopardize efficiencies for that point of difference. Independent operators are poised to make the biggest impression here—from letting diners customize their whole experience through small-bites menus to choosing cooking techniques for their proteins. I saw this at an independent, where diners were asked to choose their fish, then choose how they'd like it prepared: grilled, pan-fried, poached, blackened, etc. But certain fish shouldn't be poached, and blackening sea bass is heresy! So, the takeaway is that customization is a sustaining trend, but still requires culinary guidance.