It’s that time of year ~ the food industry is talking about new tastes & trends.
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Here is an article from Forbes Magazine of the most recent trends.
It’s sweaty, spicy, saucy – and totally gratifying – work to whip up the annual Seat 1A list of food and restaurant trends, and 2016 was no exception.
It started with some 35 potential top trends based on observations from restaurants all over the U.S., which were evaluated by an esteemed panel of culinary experts to get to the final 10:
- Linda Burum is a freelance food writer and a contributor to the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine and other publications for decades, and author of the landmark book A Guide to Ethnic Food in Los Angeles. She’s a frequent judge for the James Beard Foundation awards.
- Christine Couvelier is a global culinary trendologist, executive chef and culinary executive. Through her consulting company, Culinary Concierge, based in Victoria, British Columbia, she assists clients in launching food products and menu items.
- Robin Selden is the current president of the International Caterers Association and was named their Chef of the Year in March. She is Managing Partner & Executive Chef of Connecticut- and New York-based Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning, whose clients include companies, celebrities, and dignitaries. (Full disclosure: Robin and I are cousins.)
- Mike Thelin is a food and hospitality expert and advisor to many leading brands and organizations. He is co-founder of Feast Portland, one of America’s top culinary festivals.
- Bret Thorn is senior food & beverage editor of Nation’s Restaurant News with responsibility for spotting and reporting on food and beverage trends across the country. He has also studied traditional French cooking at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Some of the trends on past lists remain popular: all-day breakfast, poke, fried chicken, avocado toast, lobster rolls, truffles, kale, Brussels sprouts, bitters, copper mug cocktails, customizable fast food, upscale vegan cooking and restaurants filtering and bottling water on site. Click for previous lists from 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011.
And see the end of this story for some ideas on the horizon that may end up on future lists.
1 – Asian Twists on Comfort Food
Even five years ago, Korean kimchi and gochujang, Japanese dashi stock and Sriracha hot sauce were seen as exotic in the U.S. mainstream, but now they’re everywhere. “Bottles of Sriracha are becoming as ubiquitous to diner condiments as ketchup and Tabasco sauce,” says Mike Thelin (Linda Burum notes that they’re even in Mexican fast food restaurants, where presumably there are other hot sauces), “and ‘kimchi mayo’ doesn’t require an explanation.”
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Part of this, Thelin says, is that “fermented foods and chili sauces add depth and complexity that marry incredibly well with classic comfort dishes.”
Case in point: Robin Selden calls her small plate of chicken and waffles with kimchi slaw and Sriracha maple syrup “one of the best things we make.”
Bret Thorn calls this trend “a popular way to put a new twist on classics” that “grounds consumers in something that seems safe, and thus gives them the freedom to be more adventuresome.”
2 – Better Butters
Compound butters like these with oregano and garlic are moving front and center. Image: Shutterstock
This category is actually sort of a double header, between restaurants culturing their own butters in house and compound butters, with other ingredients mixed in. “A good local or European butter softened to room temperature and a fistful of herbs is all it takes” for a compound butter, says Mike Thelin. Truffle butter is a classic, he says, but compound butters can be “the bases for loads of possibilities and experimentations.”
Some of Robin Selden’s favorite compound butters are wildly diverse: nori, toasted sesame and ginger; lemon, tarragon and popped capers; madeira and shiitake; even double chocolate and hazelnut. “Taking butter to another level is an easy special touch,” she says, “particularly when served with a great bread.”
3 – Coconut everything
Coconut milk finds its way into everything, including this chia pudding topped with berries. Image: Shutterstock
Coconut is “riding the superfood bandwagon and also the anti-dairy one,” says Bret Thorn.
“Lots of versatility,” says Christine Couvelier. “We are seeing it not only as coconut water and beverages, but look for innovation with chips, crackers, spreads, oils, vinegars,” not to mention coconut flour and coconut coffee creamer.
Robin Selden uses coconut milk in panna cotta and gluten-free, vegan coconut truffles, and coconut water in fruit popsicles. That said, she finds “people either love this versatile fruit or hate it. It’s much like cilantro in the catering world.”
4 – Cook-it-Yourself Meal Kits
“The cook-it-yourself meal kit movement is America’s food revolution coming full circle and landing back in the kitchen,” says Mike Thelin. Outfits like Blue Apron, Purple Carrot (which specializes in vegan cooking), Peach Dish (Southern cooking) and other regional services ship pre-measured ingredients with recipes to consumers, who can cook at home.
The rest of our panel is not so sure, with comments like “a fad rather than a trend” (Christine Couvelier), “the field may be overcrowded” (Linda Burum) and “not sure how long they’ll last” (Bret Thorn).
“I do feel that meal kits may have been helpful in teaching consumers portion size, preparing in advance for meals and even introducing them to new recipes and flavors,” Couvelier says, but she also says that about “90% of customers drop the service in the first 6 months.” She also wonders about all the packaging waste they generate.
Still, Thelin predicts that “This is a trend that will continue as more chefs are planning to launch similar services around the country.”
5 – Dukkah
Don’t know dukkah? Our experts bet you will. Linda Burum calls it “the Egyptian blend of toasted seeds, nuts, and spices that adds crunch and pizzazz to just about everything” and notes that “it’s now everywhere from a zillion cooking blogs to food-oriented magazines.” Ingredients vary from chef to chef and coast to coast. Burum cites, among others, James Beard award-winning chef Ana Sortun of Oleana in Cambridge, Mass., who uses it over Moroccan carrot salad and a dukkah crunch doughnut. Chef Alon Shaya of Shaya in New Orleans “splashes it onto okra,” while pastry chef Alison Cates of Honey’s in Chicago “turns out a curry-infused sponge cake under Turkish-coffee mousse and dukkah-spiced toffee shards.”
“I was hoping to keep this as our secret ingredient as I love when our clients question what it is,” says Robin Selden. “Guess the word is out.”
6 – Farm-raised Fish
Surprised to see this one on the list? So was I, given that “There’s still a strong anti-farming bias among some chefs and consumers,” as Bret Thorn says. “But as they become more educated, they’re coming to understand that this is a complex issue. Aquaculture is being done more responsibly, and eating wild fish from badly managed fisheries can drive them to extinction.”
The devil appears to be in the details. “Available information still seems inconclusive,” says Linda Burum. “The health and safety of the fish depends on how and where they were raised.”
Mike Thelin agrees that “Farm-raised fish can indeed be sustainable and of high-quality, but like anything, it all comes down to the details, the product and the producer.”
7 – Filipino Cuisine & Flavors
“A biggie for 2016,” says Linda Burum, who gives much of the credit to Top Chef competitor Dale Talde (whose Talde gastropubs are in Brooklyn, Jersey City and Miami) and his cookbook, Asian-American, for having “spread the Filipino-American gospel.” She notes that Bon Appetit named the D.C. Filipino restaurant Bad Saint as America’s second-best new restaurant in 2016.
Mike Thelin says Filipino cuisine “celebrates massive flavors and funky combinations—but with approachability, generosity and downright love.” Like the Philippines itself, Filipino cooking has absorbed diverse influences from Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Japan, Spain and even the U.S., with dishes spanning simple pork filled buns and lumpia (spring rolls) to adobo (braised pork or chicken), pancit (stir-fried noodles), roasted and stewed pork, flavors generally heavy on the vinegar and coconut, and desserts like halo-halo, a flexible mix of that might include sweet beans, coconut, sticky rice, purple yam, shaved ice and sweet sauces.
8 – Miso
“I will never tire of using miso in my cooking!” proclaims Robin Selden. “The flavor profiles that you can create from this complex paste are unlike anything else.” Although the fermented soybean paste is most closely associated with Japanese cooking, its versatility puts it in its own category from the other Asian influences above.
Mike Thelin calls miso the “Swiss army knife of the pantry—it can do anything,” adding umami, depth and complexity way beyond miso soup in sushi bars: marinades, salad dressings, bar snacks (Selden makes crispy miso chick peas and almonds), even donuts and ice cream like Selden’s white miso, ginger and lychee flavor.
9 – Nut Cheeses
“The eye-rolling can stop now,” says Mike Thelin. As diners look for more dairy-free and vegan options, cheeses made from nuts “have taken a massive leap.”
Thelin, Bret Thorn and Linda Burum all credit maker Kite Hill (by Chef Tal Ronnen of L.A.’s Crossroads Kitchen, which appeared on our food trend list in 2013), with starting the movement – Thorn says that Ronnen figured out “how to get nut milk to actually act like real milk and make something that’s really cheese-like, rather than smashed up and shaped into something resembling cheese.”
Thelin calls the new products “good enough for a restaurant cheese plate.” Other brands recommended by our panelists include Treeline, Miyoko’s, Parmela Creamery and Dr. Cow.
10 – Turmeric
“What a great spice to have as a leading taste!” says Christine Couvelier. All of our experts cite turmeric’s health benefits as an anti-inflammatory (“helps with aches & stiff joints, promotes balanced mood, helps with inflammation,” Couvelier says).
Bret Thorn notes that it’s long been a favorite “among the supplement, juice-cleansing crowd” and is “widespread in Southeast Asian cuisines (and Indian, too),” and Couvelier now sees it in everything from bone broths to salad dressings, and it’s showing up on cocktail menus including L.A.’s popular EP & LP restaurant (the Silly Rabbit mixes turmeric in with vodka, carrot juice, almond cereal milk, lemon and cayenne).
Mike Thelin simply calls it “one of those perfect foods.”
Trends on the horizon: There were a lot of honorable mentions on this year’s list.Some of the panelists like the prospects for goat meat; it’s entering more menus from its traditional home in Mexican and Caribbean cuisines, but none of our experts felt it had gone mainstream yet. Same for sherry, which is enjoying growth in some markets and is beginning to break out of Spanish restaurants. Personally, my favorite new food of the year was Thai ice cream rolls (yes, outside of Thailand), but almost nobody else seems to know about them.
One pattern – if not exactly a trend – that seems to follow real estate is restaurants getting priced out of high-rent cities like New York and San Francisco. “Smaller cities around the country win as chefs set up shop in places where lower costs allow them the flexibility to be creative and not be too beholden to investors,” says Mike Thelin.
“Compounding the price challenge,” Bret Thorn says, “there are now interesting food scenes in every major city. Why battle it out in New York or San Francisco when you can thrive in Cleveland or Nashville and have a backyard and affordable parking?”
And one trend that some like and some of our experts don’t: menus for dogs in restaurants for people. I’ve seen it at Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack, and Linda Burum has spotted lactose-free ice cream for dogs at Roy’s Artisinal Creamery in Santa Barbara, Calif. Mike Thelin, however, says “I hope this isn’t a trend that lasts.”
Will any of these end up on next year’s list? Y’all come back and find out.
View full article on Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbender/2016/11/30/top-10-food-restaurant-trends-of-2016