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African flavors, new cuts of meat lead the pack for 2017 trends

In 2017, the U.S. will be a global culinary village where condiments, sausages and pickles are made in house, according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot 2017 Culinary Forecast.

The NRA surveyed 1,298 chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation and asked them to select from a long list of trends which are heating up, which are cooling down and which are perennial favorites. 

In recent years, local sourcing of meat, seafood and produce have topped the list, and they did again this year, although the NRA categorized the results differently, listing perennially trending topics such as local sourcing, chef-driven fast-casual concepts, natural ingredients/clean menus, and environmental sustainability as “concepts” rather than food trends.

That paved the way for new cuts of meat, such as the oyster steak (from the backbone just above the rump, similar to a chicken oyster) and Vegas Strip steak (between the shoulder blade and the backbone), to top the list this year, although it scored around the same as in last year’s survey, with 71 percent of respondents saying it was a hot trend.

The next hottest trends, at 70 percent, are street-food-inspired dishes, such as kebabs and dumplings, and healthful kids’ meals.

Also making the top 20 are ethnic-inspired breakfast items, ethnic spices and housemade charcuterie, sausage, pickles and condiments.

Africa was the only specific region named in the top 20, with 66 percent of respondents saying “African flavors” were a hot trend. It was not clear whether chefs meant North African or sub-Saharan flavors.

In terms of beverage trends, craft/artisan spirits topped the list again, followed by onsite barrel-aged drinks and locally produced wine, beer and spirits. Regional signature cocktails and culinary cocktails (containing savory or fresh ingredients, for example), rounded out the top five.

New to the top 20 list of beverage trends, ranked 12th with 55 percent of respondents calling it trendy, is locally/house-roasted coffee.

The trend that got the biggest change in votes between this year and last was poke, the Hawaiian raw fish preparation. The NRA listed is beside ceviche last year, and 33 percent of chefs said the pair was a growing trend. This year, 44 percent voted for poke as a growing trend and 18 percent marked it down as a perennial favorite. By contrast, 25 percent said ceviche was growing, while another 36 percent said it was a perennial favorite.

Also on the list of the eight fastest growing trends are housemade charcuterie, street-food-inspired dishes, food halls, ramen, breakfast burritos/tacos, housemade condiments and lumberjack breakfasts/fry-ups.

Photos courtesy of Nando's, Playa Provisions and The Little Beet

RELATED: Chefs: Keep an eye on these 20 items in 2017

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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