Trends vs Fads

As a leading Global Culinary Trendologist, I go beyond the borders and get up close and personal with the food industry. You can find me touring food shows around the globe, presenting my Trend Watch Report at industry conferences, exploring greenmarkets along with gourmet & grocery stores and cooking and tasting with chefs in fabulous restaurants everywhere. I share my findings with my clients and help to inspire, guide and create on-trend, on-time, great-tasting food products and menu items.

The number of new food products and menu items I taste in a month is what makes my job exciting each day ~ and yes, you can come along with me anytime you want to follow my fork!

So, what makes a trend succeed and a fad fall off our culinary radar screen?

Trends are identifiable and must speak to your target consumer. Fads can be called hype and are unpredictable and quick to market.

I stay very externally focused to be able to think about how trends and fads will affect the food industry. My sought-after Trend Watch Report looks at emerging, developing and existing areas of the food world. Being aware and informed helps you to know what makes cauliflower and kale, stand apart from rainbow coloured donuts or ramen burgers.

I am getting ready to head to The Good Food Awards and The Fancy Food Show early in 2017. Here are some food trends that I expect to taste while I am there.

Love Food / Hate Waste

The stigma of imperfect produce is fading. Innovative food companies and creative chefs will be leading this trend in 2017. Misfit Juicery in Washington DC is so creative what fruits and vegetables they use to make fabulous juices.

The Forager Project is turning the fresh-pressed fruits and veggies from their juices and smoothies into vegetable chips. Watch for more ‘ugly’ produce in grocery stores.


Consumers know more about food than ever before. Culinary tourism leads to more knowledge and an increase in passion for food. This means that just serving a lasagna is not good enough anymore. Now, it should be made with hand cut noodles & baked in a wood-burning oven in a Tuscan tomato sauce.

This sense of origin can be applied to almost anything on your menu or on a grocery shelf. Think about the authenticity, the ‘true taste’ – ultimately, remember to “Tell The Story!”

What Can You Waffle?

This just could be the dish of the year! It’s more than just chicken & waffles or waffles for breakfast with some maple syrup. Watch for creative menus that offer waffles made from:

  • Hash browns
  • French toast
  • Grilled cheese
  • And my favourite: stuffing waffles served with gravy, mashed potatoes and roast turkey or chicken

Be sure to watch for my article in February where I will share the tastes of The Good Food Awards & The Fancy Food Show with you.

Taste! Taste! Taste!

Christine Couvelier is a Global Culinary Trendologist, Executive Chef and Culinary Executive. Christine is the past Executive Chef of President’s Choice, the Director of Culinary & Beverage/Executive Chef at Cara Operations, and the Chair of The Chef School of George Brown College. She worked on global innovation for Unilever and was the first Director of Culinary Strategy at Maple Leaf Foods.

Currently Christine continues to educate, teach, and inspire her customers through her consulting company Culinary Concierge, where she provides culinary solutions to assist clients in launching on-trend, on-time great tasting food products and menu items. For more information, contact Christine by email at


Forbes – Top 10 Food and Restaurant Trends of 2016

It’s that time of year ~ the food industry is talking about new tastes & trends.
At Culinary Concierge, we give you a better understanding of the marketplace & the trends in the food world ~ in order for you to develop & sustain a competitive edge.
As a leading Global Culinary Trendologist, Christine Couvelier goes beyond borders & gets up close and personal with the food industry.
Let’s talk about your vision of success & how we can help!
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.”
Recommended by Forbes

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:


The media has been buzzing with food trends & tastes for 2016 !!


As each year draws to a close, I hear from many journalists as they are all wanting to write about the new tastes & trends for the upcoming year.

Wow, was there ever a buzz around food trends this year !

So, what will I be watching for ~ will it be another year of craft pickling, or birch syrup, or kimchee or …….?

Here are the links to a few of the stories that highlight the tastes in my culinary crystal ball for 2016.

Let me know what your favourite food was in 2015.

Don’t forget to Taste, Taste, Taste!!

Canadian Grocer Magazine
January 4, 2016

CTV News
December 28, 2015

November 23, 2015

July 21, 2015


The Taste of Culinary Travel

Culinary Tastes with Christine Couvelier of Culinary Concierge and Travelocity

I was pleased again this year, to partner with Travelocity & reveal the top culinary travel destinations for this year.

Visit Global Food Trendologist Christine Couvelier and Travelocityca Unveil the Hottest Destinations in Culinary Travel for our new report and find out all of the great tastes around the world!

Leave me a comment — I would love to hear about your tasty travels.

Taste, Taste, Taste,


Culinary Solutions

Culinary Solutions Article | Food Image | Culinary ConciergeCulinary Concierge provides customers with culinary solutions.

I am passionate about food!!

Here are some methods that I use when assisting clients in launching on-trend, on-time great-tasting food products & menu items.

Be Externally Focused

  • look outside your organization
  • who can you partner with that thinks differently from your team
  • know what is happening outside of your office & your kitchen

Culinary Creativity

  • blend together culinary awareness & creativity
  • add a strategic marketing plan
  • toss together with an in-depth trend watch report

Fill Your Product Development Pipeline

  • engage your teams in creative ideation sessions
  • include industry leaders from both inside & outside of the food world
  • plan for successful long term innovation
  • translate culinary trends to match your customer base, your product mix & your future vision

Competitive Analysis

  • be aware of consumer insights towards your brand, your products & your menu items
  • work with an expert to craft an in-depth competitive analysis

Taste, Taste, Taste

  • because great tasting food products & menu items lead to increased social media exposure, worth of mouth advertising, customers, sales & profits
  • taste your way to success

I look forward to working with you on exciting food projects.

Let’s set up a meeting so we can taste some ideas for culinary success.

Taste, Taste, Taste,

Culinary Solutions | Taste Taste Taste | Culinary Concierge


Garden Candy

Garden Candy at Granville Island Market

Garden Candy at Granville Island Market
Vancouver, BC

What food memories do you have of summer ?

Corn, peaches, fresh peas, strawberries; all wonderful, but what about fresh tomatoes?!

Nothing beats the adventure of growing your own tomatoes, picking just the ripe-ready & juicy tomatoe, slicing into it ( while it is still warm from the sunshine ) .. Making a fabulous caprese salad with bocconcini that is oozing with goodness, topping it with fresh basil, a drizzle of glistening olive oil & a grind of fresh pepper & sea salt (I love Vancouver Island Salt Company. Don’t miss out on this taste of Vancouver island at or how about a great BLT sandwich made with freshly toasted sourdough bread.

Tomato Cookbook Inspiration | Culinary Concierge with Christine Couvelier

Tomato Cookbook Inspiration

This summer, I have been using the stone on my BBQ, so cutting the tomatoes in half and grilling them, topped with fresh pesto ( lots of basil in my garden this summer ) has been the side dish to many a meal.

I have been inspired with more tomato creations from a couple of books I just received.

The very clever Barbara-Jo from Books to Cooks in Vancouver, BC ( has started a seasonal book experience where you receive a book at the start of each season. The surprise and delight of this puts a smile on my face. For the summer season the carefully presented package arrived with 2 books, The Tomato Basket by Jenny Linford and Epic Tomatoes by Craig LeHoullier!

As my tomatoes are ripening earlier than ever, I am busy with tomato recipes each day. Try this wonderful idea for tomato butter from the creative blog Shutterbean.

Let me know what tomato recipes you are making from your garden candy this summer.

Taste, Taste, Taste


Worth the Flight to Toronto

Rasa — Toronto, Ontario

You often hear of lists of restaurants that are “worth the flight”. Well, this is at the top of my list.

Rasa in Toronto is brought to you by The Food Dudes.  Plan a trip to Toronto now.

Here is a photo journey of the incredible meal that the wonderful Chef John and Chef Davin prepared for me recently.

Welcoming + Creative + Fabulous Cocktails + Incredible Tastes + Great Presentation = Hospitality at it’s finest.

Taste! Taste! Taste!


I Won the Culinary Lottery!

I really won the Culinary Lottery!

Trois Mec in LA | Culinary ConciergeOn a recent trip to Los Angeles, I managed to secure a table at Trois Mec. Trois Mec means “three guys”, which is French slang for three friends.
These are not just any friends; but three of the hottest chefs in LA who are so creative, innovative and imaginative that it’s a little like ending up for dinner in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Your chefs and hosts at Trois Mec are Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo.

Why is it a lottery? Well, they only serve dinner from Monday through Friday and they do not take reservations. Spots are secured via an online ticketing system that you log onto two weeks before you want to be there for dinner. Sit at your computer, type very fast and hope that you get a seat.

Food review of Trois Mec in Los Angeles | Christine Couvelier Culinary ConciergeOh, right there are only 12 seats! Not bad when I counted 22 staff serving, cooking, creating and pouring.

Now, if you expect to pull up and see a sign that says Trois Mec — it’s not there. The sign says Raffalo’s Pizza. They never changed it. So open the door and be greeted by the whole staff turning and yelling out “Bonsoir” (the fun has just begun).

Food review of Trois Mec in LA | Christine Couvelier Don’t look for a menu when you sit down. They don’t have one. There is a different tasting menu each night. Just sit back and let the culinary creativity take over every sip and every bite of the tasting menu and wine pairings. There were 12 courses the night I was there.

Tiny tastes that made up one of the top three meals of my life!

Trois Mec White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes

Trois Mec White Chocolate Mashed Potatoes

There were too many highlights to mention; but, the winner was the smoked and bruleed eel served on a bed of white chocolate mashed potatoes. Yes, you did just read that correctly. It was simply the best taste of the year.

Oh, and that menu you were expecting — it’s presented at the end of your Trois Mec Food Review in Los Angeles | Culinary Conciergemeal. What a great way to ensure you will never forget your meal at Trois Mec. I’ll be planning another trip very soon because I just can’t wait to eat there again!

Taste! Taste! Taste!


Hale Food

Hale Food Partners with Culinary Concierge
Recently, I was thrilled to be asked to become part of a new group of food industry professionals at Hale Food.

John Hale has pulled together a team of the best development and innovation people in the industry — think of all the great projects, food products & new menu items that will be created!

I sat down with John for an interview, so you could get to know more about Hale Food.

Hi John … I am so pleased to discuss Hale Food with you.

What made you want to start Hale Food?
I have worked for big blue chip companies for over 30 years now and I wanted to give something back, particularly to the little guy. I have had lots of experience in sensory, product development and factories and I wanted to share that with more than just one company.

Tell me a bit about your culinary journey?
started my culinary journey in my childhood. I was always cooking and working in the kitchen at home in Yorkshire, England and really enjoyed making comfort food for the pleasure of others. The same thing applies to me today. Making products that people love means everything to me.

How did you choose the team members?
he easiest part of starting Hale Food was picking the team members to be with me. Their backgrounds, experience and professionalism speaks for itself. They are all talented in their own areas and bring such an array of expertise I would have been foolish to be without them. Someone always knows the answer …… and it’s not always me.

What makes your heart sing? & what kind of projects do you love to be involved with?
What makes my heart sing is when you see people in a grocery store picking up your product and placing it in their basket. For them to be using something that you have worked on creating is the pinnacle for me. I love to be involved in all types of projects but particularly ones that are difficult to solve. The feeling when a team comes together to solve something that has complexity and succeeds is one of the best feelings in the world.

Who are your potential clients?
I would not discount anyone from being one of our clients. We tailor to all prices and needs. The little companies who need a little more help are in some ways more appealing to me because they are so pleased when you help them solve an issue. It’s not all about money, it’s about doing the right things and doing them well.

What is your favourite food?
My favourite food is fish …. plain white fish, steamed or baked, wonderful delicate flavours and soft succulent textures…… perfect.

What is your favourite drink?
My favourite drink would have to be tea …. nice and strong with a dash of milk, no sugar ….. wonderfully refreshing with just a little bite.

What is a favourite & tasty food memory?
Smell evokes memory and the smell that evokes the best and tastiest memory for me is of the seaside. It is the same in Victoria as it is in England and it is really difficult to describe but there is a slightly damp ozone aroma that brings me back to catching and eating shrimp and crab in both places.

Where do you like to travel to find culinary inspiration?
I have been very lucky in being able to travel the world for work. I have really enjoyed the culinary experience in San Francisco where the food is wonderful, Vancouver Island where you could not get fresher seafood, Boston & Massachusetts as a whole, the flavours seems so different there and in Europe I really enjoyed the rustic hearty flavours that Hungary had to offer. There are so many delights that you could fill a book with them.

Thanks John — I so look forward to sharing my passion for food, experience & enthusiasm with all of the team at Hale Food.

Taste! Taste! Taste!


What’s hot in the food world right now, and where can you get it?

To help you discover the answer, I’ve teamed up with to create the First Annual Culinary Travel Trend Watch Report. It highlights 10 mouth-watering food trends happening around the world, from sustainable seafood in Vancouver and craft cocktails in New Orleans, to foraged food tapas in San Sebastien, Spain.

Read the report and you’ll have to fight the urge to start booking tickets right away!

Discover your foodie type and win

Not only does the Culinary Travel Trend Report list 10 great destinations to indulge your taste buds in truly amazing culinary adventures, there’s also an online Foodie Profile Quiz running alongside it that helps you learn what kind of foodie you are.

The Travelocity Gnome about town with Christine Couvelier

  • Christine Couvelier with the Travelocity Gnome at Breakfast TV Toronto

    Christine Couvelier with the Travelocity Gnome at Breakfast TV Toronto

  • Christine Couvelier and Travelocity Gnome at Global News Studio Toronto

    Christine Couvelier and Travelocity Gnome at Global News Studio Toronto

  • Christine Couvelier and JP Challet at Ici Bistro

    Christine Couvelier and JP Challet at Ici Bistro

  • Travelocity Gnome at CHCH Hamilton Morning Show

    Travelocity Gnome at CHCH Hamilton Morning Show

  • The Travelocity Gnome Roaming Town

    Christine Couvelier with JP Challet & the Travelocity Gnome in Toronto