What will be hot on the menu in 2018? Ethnic. Whether at breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, global influences will hit even harder next year. In fact, 40% of the Top 20 food trends named in the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot report for 2018 fall into the ethnic camp. So, just what do members of the American Culinary Federation expect to see more of in the coming months? Read on to find out.
Peruvian and African will be big
Filipino cuisine has already started creeping onto menus, and next, chefs expect dishes with Peruvian and African to be more of an influence. Respondents also anticipate seeing more authentic spices and condiments across the board—a way for chains to add some zing from other countries without having to spec too many new items. Additionally, Thai rolled ice cream was noted as a trending dish.
... and so does sourcing
Not only do today’s diners continue to care that operators don’t waste ingredients, they want to know how and where products are grown. Sustainable seafood has been a push for a few years, and expect it to continue to be one. But the report also names heritage-breed meats as a top trend, along with heirloom fruits and veggies.
Operators move beyond the breakfast burrito
While the everyday plate of eggs and bacon isn’t going away, members of the ACF expect to see ethnic influences creeping into the morning meal. But operators don’t have to go full-on authentic to embrace this growing desire for non-American cuisines—rather, respondents expect them to work in new flavors through sauces, condiments and seasonings.
Health call-outs start to fade away
Low-calorie and gluten-free descriptions have finally moved off the list of top trends (well, except for a mention of the ever-present “healthful kids’ meals”). Now, ACF chefs name trends such as ancient grains, veggies as a carb substitute and hyperlocal foods, which all have a health halo without the specific better-for-you callouts.
And ... doughnuts
One trend that’s totally new to the list this year: doughnuts with nontraditional fillings. The sweet is a top food trend expected to heat up, with fillings that incorporate liqueurs and flavors such as Earl Grey tea.