Five chefs report on the biggest trends from their region.

With food trends changing constantly, it can be difficult for chefs and operators to know which ones have staying power. We chatted with a group of Food Fanatics Chefs—who collaborate with restaurateurs across the country to help develop innovative menus—to find out what’s on deck for 2020.

World Views

Atlanta-based chef Joshua Butler dishes on the newest ethnic influences and how to build community with food.

“People are getting out of their comfort zones,” Butler says. “Everyone is now within driving distance to food from around the world.”

The popularity of authentic, global cuisine has been on the rise for several years, and it’s not slowing down. Consumers of all demographics are increasingly curious about trying new foods, and restaurateurs are successfully implementing a range of new products to cater to these interests.

What’s Hot  Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, North African, and Gullah cuisines.

Crossover Concepts

Chef Aaron Gregory, who works with restaurants in and around Springfield, Missouri, talks about the reinvention of comfort foods.

“Barbecue is a universal food that everyone loves,” Gregory says, “but it’s seeing a lot of fusion and reinvention with other popular trends, such as street food.”

For example, many chefs have incorporated barbecue concepts into bahn-mi sandwiches. By taking something that customers are familiar with and putting a spin on it, restaurants can attract more customers.

Stand Out  Gregory recommends testing new menu products through limited-time offers, and promoting them through social media as “something different” to generate buzz.

Hotter Takes

Angel F. Joy, a Phoenix-based chef, tells us how to spice things up.

“Latin cuisine uses the bounty of colors and freshness of produce to incorporate bold flavors—such as citrus, pungent herbs, and chile peppers—with pork, seafood, and chicken,” Joy says. “These presentations are typically recognizable to customers, who are always on the lookout for new offerings using fresh ingredients.”

In addition, Joy says that traditional Latin cuisine produces minimal wasted product, because every edible part of the animals, fruits, and vegetables are used in order to extract maximum flavor.

Menu inspiration  Pair any protein with grilled peaches or mango, roasted chayote squash, zucchini, kohlrabi, and shaved Brussels sprouts.

Bottoms Up

New England-based chef Chrisopher Kube talks about the rise of biergartens and brewery partnerships.

“There’s an increasing love for hyperlocal sourcing,” Kube says. “People are really interested in the story behind their food and drink.”

Adding craft beer to your menu—and incorporating it into your food program—can help drive traffic, because it typically captures an existing audience.

Pro tip  Partner with a local brewery and deliver food to their taproom to drive cross-engagement between your brands.

Time Savers

Chef Chad Marshall, based in South Carolina, has the scoop on value added products that improve kitchen efficiency.

“Restaurants in the Southeast are getting hit hard with labor shortages,” Marshall says. “Chefs are asking, ‘How do I keep my food quality up with only half the staff?’”

Value-added products that allow chefs to focus less on prep-work—such as chopping vegetables or peeling potatoes—save manpower and help chefs deliver consistently great food.

Chef’s favorites  already-peeled Brussels sprouts and sous vide proteins, like smoked pork bellies and dry-aged and cut beef steaks.

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