A survey from nearly 1,600 chefs—members of the American Culinary Federation—proved that locally sourced meats and seafood is the top food trend facing restaurants in 2016, according to the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot Culinary Forecast.
Rounding out the top 20: Chef-driven fast-casual concepts, locally grown produce, hyper-local sourcing, natural ingredients, environmental sustainability, healthful kids’ meals, new cuts of meat, sustainable seafood, and house-made/artisan ice cream, ethnic condiments/spices, authentic ethnic cuisine, farm/estate branded items, artisan butchery, ancient grains, ethnic-inspired breakfast items, fresh/house-made sausage, house-made/artisan pickles, food waste reduction/management, and street food/food trucks.
“True trends evolve over time, especially when it comes to lifestyle-based choices that extend into other areas of our everyday life,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association, in a release. “Chefs and restaurateurs are in tune with over-arching consumer trends when it comes to menu planning, but add their own twist of culinary creativity to drive those trends in new directions. No one has a better view into the window of the future of food trends than the culinary professionals who lead our industry.”
When asked which current food trend has grown the most over that last decade, 44 percent of the chefs surveyed said local sourcing. Looking forward, 41 percent said the trend that will grow the most in the next 10 years is environmental sustainability.
Menu items that gained in trendiness since last year’s survey include African flavors, authentic ethnic cuisine, ethnic condiments/spices, house-made/artisan soft drinks, Middle Eastern flavors and non-traditional liquors. Items that lost momentum include underutilized fish, kale salads, fresh beans/peas, gluten-free cuisine, quinoa, and flower essence in cocktails.
In alcoholic beverages the top five trends were craft/artisan spirits, locally produced beer/wine/spirits, house-brewed beer, non-traditional liquors, and craft beer. For cocktails/cocktail ingredients they were onsite barrel-aged drinks, culinary cocktails, regional signature cocktails, food-beer pairings, and edible cocktails.
The NRA surveyed 1,575 American Culinary Federation members in September 2015, asking them to rate 221 items as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite” on menus in 2016.