Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Five Trends I’m Watching in 2018 by Rob Corliss Presented in partnership with the 2018 National Restaurant Association Show

Rob Corliss

by Rob Corliss, Chef/Founder, A.T.E. (All Things Epicurean)

For all of us in foodservice, tracking the latest flavor trends and consumer preferences is crucial for success. As a culinary consultant, it’s my job to translate sustaining trends into actionable menu items that create buzz and generate business growth. With that in mind, here are five that I think will continue to influence dining behavior, and that require thoughtful attention when it comes to modern menu strategy.

Evolving Lifestyles
Personalized nutrition could be the evolution beyond diet and specific food attributes, as consumers are now looking for personalized food connections that meet their individual needs and more importantly, their lifestyles. As part of this, we’ll see more chefs addressing contemporary wellness shifts.

Thin is the New Thick
New and unexpected thinner texture applications (internal/external) delivering BIG texture with thin and also lighter (thinner) sweetness, portions and alcohol content with food and drinks—all with a flavor-first approach.

The Next Wave of Snacking
Snacking is a confluence of our busier schedules and unpredictable daily eating habits—how will its influence continue to blur the line between restaurant meal hours, portion sizes, what is considered a snack or a meal, and how chefs position menu items to consumers?

Industry Culture
The culinary staffing pool seems to be dwindling and more competitive. Modern methods of cultivating a better cultural connection via acquiring, inspiring and keeping long-term, passionate employees will become a focus.

Ingredient Star
Seaweed, in all forms, taps into both the functional and plant-based food trends. We’ll see it as a showcased ingredient in beverages, snacks, sides, sauces, salads, bowls and entrée components., adding its savory, earthy tones.

My National Restaurant Association Game Plan

Each year at the National Restaurant Association Show, the content and tradeshow spark my interest and help me keep on top of trends. I look for two things in particular:

1) Commonalities among ingredients/buzzwords/techniques/stories that may identify trend paths

2) A specific need—in 2018, this will be searching and trialling innovative to-go packaging and digital ordering/tracking tools


More in our “Five Trends” Series

Five Trends I’m Watching in 2018 by Kathy Casey

Five Trends I’m Watching in 2018 by Charlie Baggs

Five Trends I’m Watching in 2018 by Kim Haasarud

Five Trends I’m Watching in 2018 by Dave Woolley

Five Trends I’m Watching in 2018 by Katie Sutton

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About The Author


Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.