Latin cuisines are ideally suited to shifting consumer preferences, according to panelists at the “Latin Flavors, American Kitchens” conference this week at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus.
Kevin Higar, a director with market research firm Technomic Inc., told the more than 175 attendees that consumers are seeking ethnic flavors, as well as customization, freshness and signature items they can’t replicate at home.
Dulce, a new restaurant concept in Fairview, Texas, is incorporating these trends. The owners of the four-unit La Duni Latin Café and La Duni Latin Kitchen concepts in Dallas developed the idea.
Dunia Borga, who created Dulce with her husband, Espartaco Borga, said the restaurant offers customizable flavors of ice cream that are chosen by the customer and then whipped with liquid nitrogen for nearly instant fresh ice cream.
“Our most popular flavor is the caramelized pistachio,” Dunia Borga said.
The ice cream, which the Borgas call “micrema,” is priced by weight, similar to many frozen yogurt shops.
In addition, what they call a “Euro-Latin coffee studio” also offers cupcakes, buñuelos (Latin beignets), grillados (Latin panini), artisan salads, cookies and confections, raspas (shaved ice), hand-mulled lemon-limeades, mojitos, cocktails, wine, beer and a coffee bar with more than 20 selections.
Hear more from Borga and Higar; story continues below
Higar said Dulce’s offerings distinguish it as what more restaurants must do in the challenging economy, which is to offer signature dishes by a skilled chef, as well as flavors that patrons can’t prepare at home.
Another selling point is the perception of freshness and quality, according to Technomic research. Higar said customers tell themselves, “I’m going to have to go to that location to get it.”
“Dulce by La Duni” has been open since earlier this summer as an attachment to a new La Duni Latin Kitchen. The Borga’s Latin cafes feature various dishes and flavors from Mexico, Spain, Venezuela and Colombia.