Survey of 700 chefs predicts top 20 food trends for 2018

Maria Bracken 14th May 2018 (Last Updated May 15th, 2018 09:43)

The National Restaurant Association Show, which takes place from 19-22 May at McCormick Place, Chicago, has released its annual survey of 700 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation – to predict the top 20 food and beverage trends at restaurants in the coming year.

Survey of 700 chefs predicts top 20 food trends for 2018

The National Restaurant Association Show, which takes place from 19-22 May at McCormick Place, Chicago, has released its annual survey of 700 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation – to predict the top 20 food and beverage trends at restaurants in the coming year.

The annual “What’s Hot” list gives a peak into which food, beverages and culinary concepts will be the new items on restaurant menus that everyone is talking about in 2018.

According to the survey, menu trends that will be heating up in 2018 include baked goods with non-traditional filling, ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes, farm/estate-branded items, and heritage-breed meats. Trends that are cooling down include artisan cheeses, heirloom fruits and vegetables, and house-made charcuterie.

Top 20 food trends

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

Top 10 restaurant concept trends

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

“Guests are implementing these trends in their lifestyles and want to see them reflected on restaurant menus. In response, chefs are creating more items in-house and turning to global flavours,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research at the National Restaurant Association.

“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,” said ACF national president Stafford T. DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC.

For complete survey results, additional trends to watch, video and downloadable graphics, please visit www.restaurant.org/foodtrends