2017 January February Top Ten Trends
Chefs are staging a coup, toppling the reign of tender greens and bringing back the crunch. Driven by a more intentional approach to salad-building, romaine and iceberg are getting called up, tucking craveability and, yes, innovation, among their crisp leaves.
Thanks to the proliferation of ramen bowls, along with the new izakaya wave, chefs are discovering the flavors of comfort-forward Japanese ingredients and dishes, like karaage, katsu and okonomiyaki, promising craveable, memorable experiences.
Small potatoes are making big moves and showing off their skills as a shareable, sociable innovation platform. Minis, marbles, fingerlings—all respond beautifully to flavor techniques like roasting, blistering, smoking and smashing.
Old-fashioned comfort meets modern flavor innovation in today’s forward-thinking skillet preparations. Rustic and earnest, skillets today host bubbling pasta dishes, shareable dips and caramelized mini platters of veg-centric bar bites.
This overarching trend speaks to a menu strategy that appeals to today’s modern diners. Thoughtfulness of intent, transparency in sourcing and a mindfulness around flavor-building all give this trend long legs.
Propelled by the interest in plant-based proteins, the veg-centric trend and Middle Eastern fare, the chickpea is stealing the spotlight. From bar bites of roasted chickpeas to the next wave of hummus and the explosion of falafel, they promise wholesome adventure.
This trend sees seafood boldly stepping out of its traditional confines and embracing big flavor combinations and casual presentations. Chefs are menuing seafood in thrilling ways, underpinning the dishes with an approachable, but meaningful message of sustainability.
Chile varietals are always on trend, giving diners the heat and excitement they yearn for. Guajillo is capturing chefs’ attention because of its depth of character, offering flavorful heat plus a cool regional Mexican hook.
With the growing interest in soda alternatives plus innovation in the cocktail space, creative non-alcoholic offerings are vying for menu space. Fast casuals are leading the way with fresh-pressed juices; hand-crafted sodas; flavor-forward lemonades and iced teas; iced coffees and more.
America’s favorite shareable is getting a serious makeover from chefs who are mindfully constructing layers of textures and flavors. Speaking to modern flavor trends, today’s nachos extend a restaurant brand’s playfulness and creativity while delivering big time on craveability.
Incorporating unusual ingredients and combinations
Rethink your salad menu strategy. Go with two to three core salads on your menu that have longevity year-round, then implement a robust salad LTO cycle that features a new seasonal salad offering every two months.