Plant-based ingredients, including cannabis and CBD (Cannabidiol), and zero-waste cooking are the year’s hottest culinary trends according to an annual National Restaurant Association’s survey.
The survey is widely regarded as a barometer of U.S. food and beverage trends. To determine what’s hot now, the 2019 edition looked at the responses of approximately 650 professional chefs, all members of the American Culinary Federation.
Seventy-seven per cent of the chef respondents named cannabis/CBD-infused drinks as the number one f&b trend in 2019. Cannabis/CBD-infused foods took second place with 76 per cent of respondents. The chefs said infusing foods with the ingredients could create unique cuisine opportunities and potential new markets for experiential dining occasions.
But these top results came with a warning. The association’s officials stressed that chefs considering incorporating cannabis and CBD-infused drinks and foods into their menus should be aware that both are federally-controlled substances and laws governing their use vary from state to state. “Operators are urged to follow all laws, including applicable federal, state and local laws that apply when selling or using those items at their restaurants,” they said.
Third on this year’s list was zero-waste cooking, which calls for chefs and restaurateurs to reduce the amount of food waste created during the preparation of menu items to prevent it from ending up in landfills. Respondents said nose-to-tail cooking, using “ugly” produce in menu items, recycling and composting were some of the things they could do to reduce, if not eliminate, waste.
“Zero-waste cooking is a sign of the times,” said Hudson Riehle, the association’s senior vice-president of research. “Millennial and Gen Z customers, in particular, expect the restaurants they patronize to be eco-friendly, so sustainability is high on their list. It’s also good for business. Not only is food waste reduction more cost-effective, it creates brand loyalty and helps protect the planet. It’s a big win for everyone.”
Other trends that made this year’s list include:
- Globally-inspired breakfast foods, which more than 69 per cent of the chefs said would be a top food trend
- Hyper-local foods made from produce grown in restaurant (hotel, convention centre, etc.) gardens, or house-made items, were popular with 67 per cent of chefs
- Veggie-centric cuisine was a favourite with 67 per cent of respondents
- New cuts of beef like oyster, Merlot and Vegas Strip steaks (67 per cent)
- Plant-based sausages and burgers (64 per cent)
- Locally-sourced meats and seafood (60 per cent)
- Veggie-carb substitutes like zucchini “zoodle” spirals, riced cauliflower and noodles made from beets, were popular with three out of five chefs
What’s not hot? According to the chefs, trends that have seen their day include overnight oats, anise-flavoured cocktails and pretzels in desserts.