Breaking Bread: Spicy flavors, ‘housemade’ among 2017 food trends
What will we eat in 2017?
How will restaurants, grocery stores and other food purveyors get our attention?
Industry experts have been making their predictions. Here’s what to expect:
Young people ages 18 to 35 are the main influencers of food trends — restaurant dining in particular.
Not only are millennials the sought-after customer base, said Brian Hinshaw, senior vice president of food and beverage for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, but they also make up about 50 percent of the restaurant workforce, where they also exert influence.
Millennials, Hinshaw said, differ from older generations: “They want more tastes. They are looking for more experiences.”
To satisfy them, restaurants offer a wider variety of socially interactive dining, such as communal tables.
“They want experiences,” he reiterated. “They don’t care about material things.”
Millennials don’t spend money as freely as older generations, Hinshaw said, so small-plate options and less-expensive choices will continue.
The cost of bricks-and-mortar restaurants — from the utility bills to health insurance and overtime — will continue to drive up restaurant prices, even though food prices are dropping.
Chefs will get creative to justify higher prices, offering artisan choices not available elsewhere.
“Housemade” will become the menu buzzword for 2017, according to a survey of American Culinary Federation chefs by the National Restaurant Association.
Charcuterie, pickles, sausages, condiments and ice cream all will be part of the housemade trend in restaurants, the survey showed.
We are in an era when toddlers are eating kimchee, Hinshaw said.
Spicy foods and ethnic fare will continue their rise, with the flavors of Africa and the Middle East attracting particular attention.
Big, bold, spicy flavors are expected to take over breakfast choices, too, according to the annual McCormick Flavor Forecast, from the Maryland spice company.
As our quest for more flavor continues, look for a mingling of ethnic cuisines — Korean tacos or Persian minestrone, for example — to help deliver new and bolder tastes.
Baum + Whiteman, an international food and restaurant consulting firm, called vegetables “the new comfort food” in its annual trend report.
Spiralized vegetables are replacing real pasta, vegetable butcher shops are popping up nationwide, and folks who aren’t vegetarians are increasingly interested in eating something other than meat.
Hinshaw said vegetarian choices at Cameron Mitchell restaurants are tremendous sellers.
Building on the success of quinoa, those choices also include ancient grains such as farro and amaranth, which cost less than meat, he noted.
The jackfruit from Thailand will be a top trend in 2017 produce, Baum + Whiteman predicts.
We’ve already seen the rise of mail-order meal-making kits such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, plus UberEATS for food delivery; it entered the Columbus, Ohio, market this year.
Convenience will continue to rule, so look for more apps and more companies using technology to deliver food to people as quickly as possible.
Delivery-only or virtual restaurants are popping up in larger cities, and ambitious home cooks, too, are using e-commerce to deliver prepared home-cooked meals to others, according to the Baum + Whiteman report.
The market research firm Mintel predicts that, in our time-strapped world, the time “saved by a food or drink product” will become one of its biggest selling points.
— Lisa Abraham writes about food for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @DispatchKitchen.