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MRA Report: What’s Hot



Is Kale done yet? How about cauliflower? Bacon everywhere? Successful chefs and restaurateurs do well to keep a bead on what’s hot and what’s not. Are you keeping up with the national trends and what your customers want to experience? 

To find out, you can turn to the National Restaurant Association’s, What’s Hot Culinary Forecast, excerpted here. 

Each year, the annual survey asks chefs to identify food and beverage trends for the coming year. Chefs ranked 140 items—from all-day breakfast to zero-waste cooking—as “hot,” “yesterday’s news” or “perennial favorite.” The resulting What’s Hot Culinary Forecast predicts the food, beverages and culinary themes that will be the talk of 2019.

Nearly 77 percent of chefs surveyed ranked cannabis/CBD-infused drinks as the No. 1 trend for 2019. About 76 percent tapped cannabis/CBD-infused food as the second most popular. Chefs who participated in the survey said infusing foods with the ingredients could create unique cuisine opportunities and potential new markets for experiential dining occasions.

“The Association’s 2019 What’s Hot report reflects contemporary consumer cravings in tandem with emerging societal dining trends,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association. “We’re seeing a more eco-friendly perspective and greater emphasis on global flavors/cuisines as well as enhanced availability of healthful items/children’s meals and the exploration of new food sourcing options.”  

The survey indicates that Americans crave foods that not only nourish them but also help sustain the planet. Plant-based and veggie-centric foods are no longer just for vegetarians. In fact, three of the 15 hottest items are plant-based sausages/burgers, veggie-centric/vegetable forward cuisine and plant-based proteins. Hyper-local sourcing, including restaurants that grow produce in their own gardens, also made the Top 10 list.

TOP TRENDS FOR 2019

Cannabis/CBD oil-infused drinks

Cannabis/CBD oil-infused food

Zero-waste cooking

Globally inspired breakfast dishes

Global flavors in kids’ meals

Hyper-local

New cuts of meat

Veggie-centric/vegetable-forward cuisine

Chef-driven fast-casual concepts

Craft/artisan/locally produced spirits

 

TOP TRENDS FOR 2019

Cannabis/CBD oil-infused drinks

Cannabis/CBD oil-infused food

Zero-waste cooking

Globally inspired breakfast dishes

Global flavors in kids’ meals

Hyper-local

New cuts of meat

Veggie-centric/vegetable-forward cuisine

Chef-driven fast-casual concepts

Craft/artisan/locally produced spirits

 

TOP CONCEPT TRENDS

Restaurant Concepts

Chef-driven fast casual concepts 

Pop-up temporary restaurants 

Commissaries (e.g. shared commercial kitchen space) 

Small-plate menus/ restaurant concepts 

Food halls

Culinary Concepts

Cannabis/ CBD-infused food 

Zero-waste cooking (elevated cuisine using food scraps)

Hyper-local (e.g. restaurant gardens, house-made items) 

Veggie-centric/ vegetable-forward cuisine 

Natural ingredients/clean menus.

 

Zero-waste cooking, which transforms food scraps, damaged produce and leftovers into culinary delights, ranks third on the list of overall trends for 2019 and second in the culinary concepts category. Chefs are taking a second look at items they trashed in the past — using coffee grounds to flavor homemade ice cream and showcasing cabbage butts in crowd-pleasing stir-fries. 

Global flavors also ranked high, with the trend heating up from last year. Globally inspired breakfast dishes claimed the fourth spot on the survey, followed by global flavors in kids’ meals. 

In category after category, global flavors shine brightly. The Israeli soda gazoz ranks second in the non-alcoholic beverage category. Thai-rolled ice cream placed first among sweets. 

African cuisines, condiments and spices trended across several categories, including items that originated in North, West and East Africa (Ethiopia). Chefs identified North African cuisine (think tajine and fuul) as today’s “hottest” global flavor. 

Cuts of meat, such as shoulder tender, oyster steak or the Merlot cut, cooled some after nabbing the top spot for the past two years. As for “yesterday’s news,” chefs ranked overnight oats, anise-flavored cocktails and pretzels in desserts as trends that have come and gone.

So what’s on your menu this year? The Minnesota Restaurant Association (MRA) can help you stay ahead of the curve. When you join the MRA, you also become a member of the National Restaurant Association, offering an exceptional opportunity to stay informed and connect with other like-minded professionals. To learn more, give us a call or visit us at www.mnrestaurant.org. We are here to help you succeed.

 

Credits: The National Restaurant Association works with the American Culinary Federation for its annual chefs’ survey of menu trends for the coming year. 


Liz Rammer is the president & CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, which includes The Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations.

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