2019 Menu Trends: Hot or Not

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Must-Haves and Must-Nots For Your 2019 Menus
A coalition of chefs and operators from the American Culinary Federation weigh in on what should pepper your menus in 2019.
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Hot Mediterranean cuisine is more than simple food, says Stephanie Charns, former pastry chef from O-Ku and Oak Steakhouse in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a freelance pastry chef in North Carolina and Virginia. “It is a lifestyle embraced by many chefs,” she says. “We will continue to see this cuisine thrive and influence menus in 2019.”

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WarmCuisines from “micro-cultures” have been catching on for years, says Jeremy Abbey, chef and owner at Detroit Underground Omakase. “Sichuan trends will continue to grow,” he says.

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Middle Eastern

Hot Abbey sees more quick-serves launching Middle Eastern concepts, which signals to him that the trend is growing in the U.S. Charns says the use of Middle Eastern spices and textures will continue to find its way onto menus.

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HotEvery chef agreed that plant-forward cuisine is catching fire, and creativity is what makes them successful. “Guests want to see more than just a salad as a healthy menu item,” Charns says.

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Oat Milk

HotIt’s the new almond milk. There, we said it. And it’s popularity can’t be denied—even if you don’t like it. Abbey’s take? “Sigh—hot, but I wish it wasn’t.” Oat milk is something we’ll all have to learn to love in 2019.

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Almond Milk

ColdChefs agree that almond milk is SO 2018. It was voted officially COLD for 2019. Meanwhile, in addition to oat milk, guests are interested in flax milk and hemp milk as nondairy alternatives.

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WarmAfter so many years at the top of the hot list, ramen is losing steam. Now it takes more to get folks hyped on ramen. Jay Ziobrowski, corporate chef for InHarvest in Charlotte, North Carolina, says it takes a fusion twist, “like a Rueben Ramen or Buffalo Ramen,” to make the menu item stand out this year.

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Cannabis Cuisine

HotWhile only legal in some states, chefs agree that the trend will only grow as its legality spreads. Charns called it a regional trend, but says it’s hot where allowed. If CBD is included in the cannabis umbrella, however, the trend can rise everywhere.

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Cold Longtime favorite or not, pho is coming in ice cold in 2019. Abbey rated it a “sigh.”

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Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

WarmMocktails are on their way, much to Abbey’s dismay. “Please go away,” the chef said. But others disagreed. Charns called them hot and expects to see more innovative beverages. “From my experience, many guests enjoy innovation in beverages as much as in their food.”