Ancient grains, smoked, pickled and fermented vegetables, insect foods, vegetable yogurt, hybrid liquors, healthy kids’ meals with adventurous flavors, and face recognition software in restaurants. These are just a few of the culinary themes and food trends that professionals are predicting we will be seeing in 2015.
MENU TRENDS REFLECT LIFESTYLE CHOICES
Every year the National Restaurant Association predicts food and menu trends in their annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. This year, Local Sourcing, Sustainability, and Nutrition are at the top of the trends for 2015 — yet another example of our food choices naturally following our lifestyle choices. The TOP 3 FOODS (of 20) on the list are locally-sourced meats and seafood (1), locally grown produce (2), and environmental sustainability (3).
“I am pleased that members of the American Culinary Federation continue to support local sourcing and sustainable food practices as an annual trend and are paving the way for these values to become part of everyday American cooking,” says Thomas Macrina, national president of the American Culinary Federation.
Other food trends in the NRA’s Top 20 List include healthier kids’ meals on menus (whole grains, vegetables, entree salads, etc.); farm-branded foods and signature made-from-scratch restaurant foods such as housemade ice cream, pickles and bacon; ethnic-inspired breakfast items; plus artisan cheeses, new cuts of meat, gluten-free foods, and bite-sized appetizers. For the complete list, click here.
TECHNOLOGY TOPS THE LIST AND FOOD MASHUPS WILL HIT MENUS EVERYWHERE
International Food & Restaurant Consultants, Baum + Whiteman, have also made their predictions for this year in The Whiteman Report: 11 Hottest Food & Beverage Trends in Restaurants and Hotel Dining. According to this report there are 3 main directions where the industry is headed:
- Technology — this is profoundly changing the way restaurants operate and is becoming even more important to the whole restaurant experience.
- Flavor Manipulation — basic flavors of food and drink will continue to be manipulated by chefs’ and manufacturers’.
- Authenticity — new flavors, new products, and unexpected “mashups” make authenticity no longer relevant to chefs.
Baum + Whiteman, as well as other food industry professionals, agree that technology is absolutely the “trend of the year.” Restaurants are experimenting with using devices and programs that will be able to interface directly with customers such as tablets that enable guests to order food and drink from their tables, or that provide the possibility to play games while waiting for food, or the option to pay for meals with a smartphone.
Location-based technology and face-recognition software will be allow servers to know exactly where customers are waiting for a drink, what they look like, and maybe even know their name. All of this is referred to as “guest-facing technology and it might just change the dining scene as we know it. Servers and bartenders wearing Google Glasses? These are wearable computers with an optical head-mounted display that displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format. While some restaurants have been reported to ban customers from wearing the sci-fi specs, some predictions say that the staff might soon be wearing them. However, a CNN report that just came out today (January 16th) says that January 19 is going to be the last day to get the current Google Glass Explorer Edition.
PRE-PAYING FOR YOUR NON-CANCELLABLE DINNER
The Whiteman Report predicts that restaurants are moving toward a tech-enabled “pay-for-tables” system where people will be able to buy “tickets” for dinner like seats on an airplane. Restaurants will get paid before dinner (even before purchasing the food), enhancing cash flow and guaranteeing house-count. To take this one step further, restaurateurs may start using the same “revenue-maximizing” software system that hotels and airlines use, which could result in customers sitting next to each other paying different prices for the very same meal.
As for the technology being the “trend of the year” in restaurants, Technomic, a leading food research and consulting firm, predicts that there may just be a backlash because many people still want to unplug when they go out to eat.
TOP FOOD TRENDS
After researching predictions from several different sources, here are some foods that many of agree we’ll will be seeing a lot more of in 2015:
Jewish Food — think challah bread pudding, “reinvented” bagels, and kugel mashups. Jewish food goes hip? We’ll see..but sounds delicious.
Oysters — bays, inlets and tidal basins are being “detoxed” so farmers are reseeding old oyster beds and discovering new ones making oysters cheaper and more available
Savory Yogurt and Ice Cream — beet, carrot, tomato, squash yogurt. Miso ice cream?
Japanese Snack Foods — heavily flavored such as Shrimp and Mayonnaise Doritos, Pepsi Flavored Cheetos, and Lays Hot & Sour Fish Soup Potato Chips
Artisan Toast — beyond free toast with eggs, toast will claim its own space on menus
Sweet-Spicy Sauces and Condiments — these are being added to sauces, dressings, whipped into butter, such as flavored honey like habanero, ghost chili, and ginger-citrus
Hummus — now more popular than salsa – on restaurant menus everywhere
Communal Boozing — sharable alcoholic punch for the whole table (straws for everyone!)
Hybrid Liquors — Vodquila (vodka-tequila), Jinzu (gin-sake), Courvoiser Rose (rose wine and cognac)…
Insects As Protein Source — creative ways to prepare and eat insects continues (protein bars, on pizza, chips dusted with cricket powder, bread made with ladybug flour). Did you know that crickets have 2 times more protein than beef and also have 15 times more iron than spinach. In addition to the nutritional benefits, insects are more sustainable than livestock, which consume large amounts of water, fossil fuels, and pollute water sources with their waste.
Baum + Whiteman also predict that big hotels and large retail shops will continue to open sophisticated onsite coffee shops and restaurants, chefs will be opening more “fast-casual” restaurants, and there may be a decline in tipping in the industry.
And last but not least, according to multiple predictions, we can expect to see a lot more restaurants serving WAFFLES in 2015 including “Fritaffles” (frittata waffles), mac and cheese waffles, pizza waffles, and hash brown waffles.
2015 Announcement: Packnwood has moved to Manhattan. If you are in NYC, please visit us 213 W.35th Street, Penthouse, 14th Floor.