NRA, Andrew Freeman dish on 2017 F&B trends

(2017 NRA food trends)

What’s hot and what’s not in the culinary world is a topic that is endlessly debated by those in the foodservice industry. The National Restaurant Association and restaurant and hospitality consultants Andrew Freeman & Company recently released lists that quantify what items are popular with consumers and what is expected to be highly sought after in 2017.

The National Restaurant Association surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs that are members of the American Culinary Federation to explore food-and-beverage trends at restaurants in the coming year.

According to the survey, menu trends that will be heating up in 2017 include poke, house-made charcuterie, street food, food halls and ramen. Trends that are cooling down include quinoa, black rice, and vegetarian and vegan cuisines.

Top 20 Food Trends

1. New cuts of meat (e.g. shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas Strip Steak, Merlot cut)

2. Street food-inspired dishes (e.g. tempura, kabobs, dumplings, pupusas)

3. Healthful kids' meals

4. House-made charcuterie

5. Sustainable seafood

6. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g., chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)

7. House-made condiments

8. Authentic ethnic cuisine

9. Heirloom fruit and vegetables

10. African flavors

11. Ethnic spices (e.g. harissa, curry, peri peri, ras el hanout, shichimi)

12. House-made sausage

13. House-made pickles

14. Ancient grains (e.g. kamut, spelt, amaranth, lupin)

15. House-made/artisan ice cream

16. Whole grain items in kids' meals

17. Protein-rich grains/seeds (e.g., hemp, chia, quinoa, flax)

18. Artisan cheeses

19. Savory desserts

20. Gourmet items in kids' meals

Top 10 Concept Trends

1. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens, onsite beer brewing, house-made items)

2. Chef-driven fast-casual concepts

3. Natural ingredients/clean menus

4. Environmental sustainability

5. Locally sourced produce

6. Locally sourced meat and seafood

7. Food waste reduction

8. Meal kits (e.g. pre-measured/prepped raw ingredients for home preparation)

9. Simplicity/back to basics

10. Nutrition

“Menu trends today are beginning to shift from ingredient-based items to concept-based ideas, mirroring how consumers tend to adapt their activities to their overall lifestyle philosophies, such as environmental sustainability and nutrition,” said Hudson Riehle, SVP of research for the National Restaurant Association. “Also among the top trends for 2017, we’re seeing several examples of house-made food items and various global flavors, indicating that chefs and restaurateurs are further experimenting with from-scratch preparation and a broad base of flavors.”

Andrew Freeman & Company’s research shows the trend of the new year will be modern takes on ethnic cuisine.  

“People are embracing flavors farther eastward in the Mediterranean and Middle East,” said chef John Griffiths.  “I expect to see a further incorporation of Turkish, and Middle Eastern spice combinations and dishes. With so many men and women of the military stationed abroad in these regions and Afghanistan over the last decade, I think our acceptance of those cuisines will increase.”

The company named the breakfast sandwich the dish of the year.

“Restaurants are elevating the humble breakfast sandwich to new levels. Think breakfast sandwiches on dinner menus and Michelin-starred restaurants doling out egg sandwiches paired with exceptional latte art in the morning.”

Filipino won the title of cuisine of the year.

“Influenced by a long history of culinary tradition and the flavors of India, Japan, Malay, China, and Spain, Filipino cuisine is bold, fresh, and borderline addictive. Wildly popular in Los Angeles, Filipino fare is finally getting it’s well-deserved moment in the spotlight across the country.”

As for the ingredient of the year? The company predicts that will be cannabis: marijuana edibles, cannabis cooking, infused cocktails, cannabis wine and more.

Here is Andrew Freeman’s list of rising food trends for 2017:

  • Grain bowls
  • The rise of the veggie kingdom
  • The new ice (cream) age
  • Lesser-known Asian cuisine such as Filipino, Taiwanese, Laotian, Malaysian and Indonesian
  • Tartare
  • Dairy-free alternatives
  • Fermentation
  • New American cuisine
  • Caviar