Top Food Trends for 2018



Chefs will incorporate more ethnic spices into their cuisine this year.

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Last year, it was all about artisan cheeses, heirloom fruits and vegetables, artisanal butchery and homemade charcuterie. This year, the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot List” includes donuts with non-traditional filling, ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes, farm/estate-branded items and heritage-breed meats.

“Local, vegetable-forward, and ethnic-inspired menu items will reign supreme on menus in the upcoming year,” predicts National Restaurant Association’s senior vice president of research Hudson Riehle in a released statement. “Guests are implementing these trends in their own lifestyles and want to see them reflected in the food they eat at restaurants. In response, chefs are creating more items in-house and turning to global flavors to infuse their menus.”

While predicted last year in the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2017” survey, chef-driven fast-casual food will continue to trend in 2018. And so will the use of locally-sourced and estate-branded meats, sustainable seafood and new cuts of protein (think shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas Strip Steak, to name but a few).

Other top trends to look for are house-made condiments; street food-inspired dishes (e.g. tempura, kabobs and dumplings); ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes); vegetable carb substitutes (e.g. cauliflower rice, zucchini spaghetti); Peruvian cuisine; donuts with non-traditional filling (e.g. liqueur, Earl Grey cream); and ethnic condiments (e.g. sriracha, sambal, chimichurri, gochujang, zhug).

“Chefs strive to strike the right balance between offering consumers what they want to eat now and guiding them toward new and exciting culinary frontiers,” says American Culinary Federation (ACF) national president Stafford T. DeCambra. “ACF chefs dedicate countless hours to continuing education and professional development to stay at the forefront of culinary innovation, allowing them to respond to and redefine diners’ expectations in an ever-changing foodservice landscape.”

It appears as if we have a lot to look forward to in 2018.

TOP 20 FOOD TRENDS

  1. New cuts of meat (e.g. shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas Strip Steak, Merlot cut)
  2. House-made condiments
  3. Street food-inspired dishes (e.g. tempura, kabobs, dumplings, pupusas)
  4. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)
  5. Sustainable seafood
  6. Healthful kids' meals
  7. Vegetable carb substitutes (e.g. cauliflower rice, zucchini spaghetti)
  8. Uncommon herbs (e.g. chervil, lovage, lemon balm, papalo)
  9. Authentic ethnic cuisine
  10. Ethnic spices (e.g. harissa, curry, peri peri, ras el hanout, shichimi)
  11. Peruvian cuisine
  12. House-made/artisan pickles
  13. Heritage-breed meats
  14. Thai-rolled ice cream
  15. African flavors
  16. Ethnic-inspired kids' dishes (e.g. tacos, teriyaki, sushi)
  17. Donuts with non-traditional filling (e.g. liqueur, Earl Grey cream)
  18. Gourmet items in kids' meals
  19. Ethnic condiments (e.g. sriracha, sambal, chimichurri, gochujang, zhug)
  20. Ancient grains (e.g. kamut, spelt, amaranth, lupin)

TOP 10 CONCEPT TRENDS

  1. Hyper-local (e.g. restaurant gardens, onsite beer brewing, house-made items
  2. Chef-driven fast casual concepts
  3. Natural ingredients/clean menus
  4. Food waste reduction
  5. Veggie-centric/vegetable-forward cuisine (e.g. fresh produce is star of the dish)
  6. Environmental sustainability
  7. Locally sourced meat and seafood
  8. Locally sourced produce
  9. Simplicity/back to basics
  10. Farm/estate-branded items

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