Local sourcing, minimal processing and sustainability dominated the list of trends that chefs anticipate will influence menus in the coming year, according to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) for its What’s Hot culinary forecast. The survey of nearly 1,600 professional chef members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) was designed to find which foods, beverages and culinary themes will be hot on restaurant menus in 2016.
Here are the Top 20…
1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Chef-driven fast-casual concepts
3. Locally grown produce
4. Hyper-local sourcing
5. Natural ingredients/minimally processed food
6. Environmental sustainability
7. Healthful kids' meals
8. New cuts of meat
9. Sustainable seafood
10. House-made/artisan ice cream
11. Ethnic condiments/spices
12. Authentic ethnic cuisine
13. Farm/estate branded items
14. Artisan butchery
15. Ancient grains
16. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items
17. Fresh/house-made sausage
18. House-made/artisan pickles
19. Food waste reduction/management
20. Street food/food trucks
“True trends evolve over time, especially when it comes to lifestyle-based choices that extend into other areas of our everyday life,” said Hudson Riehle, the NRA’s senior vice president of research in a release announcing the results. “Chefs and restaurateurs are in tune with over-arching consumer trends when it comes to menu planning, but add their own twist of culinary creativity to drive those trends in new directions. No one has a better view into the window of the future of food trends than the culinary professionals who lead our industry.”
"We are excited to see how foodservice establishments will incorporate these culinary trends for 2016," added ACF National President Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC. “Chefs enjoy being creative and many of these trends give them the ability to do what they love: make fresh, delicious food for people to enjoy.”
When asked which current food trend has grown the most over that last decade, 44 percent of the chefs surveyed said local sourcing. Looking forward, 41 percent said the trend that will grow the most in the next 10 years is environmental sustainability.
Menu items that gained in trendiness since last year’s survey include African flavors, authentic ethnic cuisine, ethnic condiments/spices, house-made/artisan soft drinks, Middle Eastern flavors and non-traditional liquors. Items that lost momentum include underutilized fish, kale salads, fresh beans/peas, gluten-free cuisine, quinoa and flower essence in cocktails.
The NRA surveyed 1,575 American Culinary Federation members in September 2015, asking them to rate 221 items as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite” on menus in 2016.