Chefs Predict “What’s Hot” for Menu Trends in 2017

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At Peter B's at the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, California, housemade Stout Ice Cream is infused with the brewpub’s Stout Resistance and made in collaboration with nearby Kai Lee Creamery.

Each year, the National Restaurant Association surveys nearly 1,300 professional chefs, members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF), to explore 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 themes they predict will be the new items on restaurant menus in 2017.

According to the survey, menu trends that will be heating up in 2017 include poke, house-made charcuterie, street food, food halls, and ramen. Trends that are cooling down include quinoa, black rice, and vegetarian and vegan cuisines.

TOP 20 FOOD TRENDS

1.            New cuts of meat (e.g. shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas Strip Steak, Merlot cut)
2.            Street food-inspired dishes (e.g. tempura, kabobs, dumplings, pupusas)
3.            Healthful kids’ meals
4.            House-made charcuterie
5.            Sustainable seafood
6.            Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g., chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)
7.            House-made condiments
8.            Authentic ethnic cuisine
9.            Heirloom fruit and vegetables
10.          African flavors
11.          Ethnic spices (e.g. harissa, curry, peri peri, ras el hanout, shichimi)
12.          House-made sausage
13.          House-made pickles
14.          Ancient grains (e.g. kamut, spelt, amaranth, lupin)
15.          House-made/artisan ice cream
16.          Whole grain items in kids’ meals
17.          Protein-rich grains/seeds (e.g., hemp, chia, quinoa, flax)
18.          Artisan cheeses
19.          Savory desserts
20.          Gourmet items in kids’ meals

TOP 10 CONCEPT TRENDS

1.            Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens, onsite beer brewing, house-made items)
2.            Chef-driven fast-casual concepts
3.            Natural ingredients/clean menus
4.            Environmental sustainability
5.            Locally sourced produce
6.            Locally sourced meat and seafood
7.            Food waste reduction
8.            Meal kits (e.g. pre-measured/prepped raw ingredients for home preparation)
9.            Simplicity/back to basics
10.          Nutrition

Charcuterie at the James Hotel Chicago.
Charcuterie at the James Hotel Chicago.

“Menu trends today are beginning to shift from ingredient-based items to concept-based ideas, mirroring how consumers tend to adapt their activities to their overall lifestyle philosophies, such as environmental sustainability and nutrition,” said Hudson Riehle, senior VP of research for the National Restaurant Association. “Also among the top trends for 2017, we’re seeing several examples of house-made food items and various global flavors, indicating that chefs and restaurateurs are further experimenting with from-scratch preparation and a broad base of flavors.”

“Chefs are on an endless quest to redefine how consumers eat,” commented ACF National President Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC. “By masterfully transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, culinary professionals are at the forefront of changing the culinary landscape.”

The National Restaurant Association surveyed 1,298 American Culinary Federation members in October 2016, asking them to rate 169 items as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite” on menus in 2017.

For complete survey results, additional trends to watch, video and downloadable graphics, click here.