Ray Lampe, AKA Dr. BBQ, Dr. BBQ’s (Opening in St. Petersburg in 2017) from The Biggest Coming Food Trends of 2017, According to 65 of America’s Top Chefs
The Biggest Coming Food Trends of 2017, According to 65 of America’s Top Chefs
Composite by Medina Lynn.
The Biggest Coming Food Trends of 2017, According to 65 of America’s Top Chefs
With 2016 finally at an end, we can start to look forward to 2017 and the countless dining opportunities it will present (hey, we’ve got our priorities in order). But how will the restaurant world change in the year ahead? We asked 65 chefs from across the country to make their best educated guesses and predict what the year ahead will hold for their industry — and we got some surprising answers.
Alex Guarnaschelli, Judge on Food Network’s Chopped
“Eating and cooking with seeds — i.e. Sesame seeds. Sorghum seeds. Chia seeds; Getting back to simplicity — a simple burger, a no-frills hot dog, etc; Prix fixe dining of varied price ranges; Celery root will become the hottest vegetable in town; Golden Frill mustard greens will eclipse and surpass kale as the new salad green.”
What are you most excited to cook more of in the New Year?
“Cranberries, quail, homemade mustard, homemade vinegar , ‘shrubs’ for cocktails, mulled wine, rutabaga, snails, sunflower greens, and an ‘old school’ blackened piece of fish.
Ali LaRaia, The Sosta (opening Spring 2017 in New York City)
“I think 2017 is going to be the year of redefining the healthy food trend. ‘Healthy food’ won’t just mean dairy-free, gluten-free, or wholegrain, but the focus will shift more to high-quality, locally sourced, fresh, unprocessed, house-made ingredients that are consistent in flavor and integrity. Bread, pasta, and cheese will no longer have to just be a guilty pleasure.”
Omni Hotels & Resorts
Andre Natera, Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa (Austin)
"I am going to go out on a limb and say that in 2017 will see the resurgence of French cuisine. It may be in modern form or in the form of Bistronomy like the hot restaurants currently in Paris. Additionally, with the new season of Mind of a Chef and the Netflix program Chef’s Table France, French food is on the top of a lot of people's minds."
Bernard Hamburger, Food and Beverage Director, Marriott Marquis Houston (Houston)
“Making the ancient cool again will be a trend in 2017 with grains such as Amaranth gaining in popularity given increased interest from both chefs and consumers to expand their palate for high-protein grains beyond quinoa. The desire for and interest in healthy food options using ‘made-from-scratch’ cooking techniques will continue to rise in 2017. As millennials, and the rest of the population, continue to expand their demand for more socially responsible foods the practice of speaking to where the food is from, not just origin but also who the purveyors are, will crop up in more conventional places. I also see portion sizes shrinking as a trendy answer to a more health-conscious public.”
Seadon Shouse, Halifax (Hoboken, N.J.)
“I feel that crudités are going to be a 2017 food trend. With more people moving toward a lifestyle of healthy eating, I think well-executed crudités will make a comeback this coming year. I also feel that sustainably sourced seafood and meats will continue to be on trend in 2017. More people are caring where their food comes from and asking more questions about where their food comes from. Sustainably sourced ingredients are the focus at Halifax and we will continue it.”
Brandon Thordarson, Moxie’s Grill & Bar (Dallas)
“I'm looking for chefs to create ethnic dishes with deep-rooted cultural integrity. Pulling spices, herbs, and ingredients from long-standing traditions passed down from grandmas and grandpas. This trend isn’t just different ethnicities, but deep-rooted American cuisine as well. How can these chefs re-imagine what grandma did, fuse it with the current culinary world, and come up with NEW creative cuisine that really sparks interest and gets the palate dancing. This is what I see as a growing trend that will never die but only gain strength.”
Brandon Sharp, The Carolina Inn, A Destination Hotel (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
“I think we’ll see a turn away from the ascetic and minimalist cuisine of the past few years, back toward more generous, sumptuous, sauce-based cooking.”
Camron Woods, Omni La Mansión del Rio (San Antonio)
“My prediction for the 2017’s hottest food trend is an elevated home-style cuisine. I think diners are exhausted with chefs constantly attempting to recreate new, unique, and innovative dishes. I believe diners are now longing for the nostalgia of food they know, only done better than they have ever had.”
Casey Thompson (Bravo’s Top Chef, seasons 3, 8, and 14)
“Today’s culinary landscape is so exciting! With the heightened attention from diners on food and its methodology, I foresee home chefs continuing to advance in their kitchens with additions of more and more professional chef-driven equipment.”
Celeste Fierro, Senior Vice President of The ONE Group and co-founder of STK (New York City)
“The digital foodscape is going to be huge in 2017. We’ve already been introduced to what the marriage of food and tech can do to enhance the restaurant experience, and in the coming year using new apps and technology to stay in touch with diners will only continue to grow and improve.”
Cesare Casella, Chef, Educator, Tuscan Cuisine Expert (New York City)
“My short answer to any food question is always — Salumi! It never goes out of style, and with my new salumi company opening in 2017, I'm personally going to be eating that every day!
“Along those lines, but in a broader sense, I think the Know-Your-Farmer trend will continue and grow even bigger in the coming year. People want to know where their food comes from, whether they shop at the farmers market, belong to a local food co-op, or subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). When you know your farmer, butcher, baker — or salumiere! — you feel much more connected to what you eat, which in the end is healthier, too.
“When I was growing up in Italy, I named all my foods — the pigs, the salami, the vegetables in my garden, they were all my pets and friends — and I think that's how we should treat food here too.
“And the other is good wine on tap.”
Chris Lusk, The Caribbean Room (New Orleans)
"Lesser-known Asian cuisine. We're starting to see more influence and ingredients from places like Indonesia and Malaysia, and I think that's going to continue developing. We're also seeing lots of traditionally Indian dishes and flavors popping on all kinds of menus, not just those of Asian or fusion restaurants."
Chris Thompson, Coda di Volpe (Chicago)
"With as many problems as we still have in our food system, we've made a lot of good head way since the war rationing and canning practices of the 1940s and ‘50s. Farmers are growing food to taste good again. Not for uniformity, not for ship-ability, but for flavor. A lot of what chef Dan Barber is doing right now is what I find to be of relevance — working closely with farmers, finding and growing lost varietals, understanding soil health, and ultimately growing food that is good for us. As the pendulum has swung as far as GMO foods, I'd like to think that it has yet to swing as far back in the right direction as it can..... who knows what 2017 will bring?
Christopher Lee, Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant (Multiple Nationwide Locations)
“Social Dining: People are going out more in large groups looking to have fun and an entertaining experience. I see a trend of simple food. Chefs are going back to what works, simple and clean flavors. Focusing on ingredients and allowing them to shine without masking their flavor. I am also seeing chefs trying to create more of an interactive experience between the food and the guest. My ingredient trend is Brussels sprouts.”
Dan Barber, Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns (New York)
“I think we’re seeing an awakening around whole grain flours — flours with the kind of flavor and aroma that’s only possible when you’re milling them fresh. In some ways, it’s similar to the transition that happened in the coffee business. These days, don’t all the best baristas grind their own beans? I think, increasingly, we’re going to see the same care (some would say obsession) applied to our baking. Tabletop mills will become the new coffee grinders.”
Danny Grant, Maple & Ash (Chicago)
“I believe higher end restaurants will take their take-out and delivery services to a whole new level in 2017, with less in-house seating and larger kitchen space to produce high quality take-out orders. Think of all the working families that would like to go out for a fancy meal but aren’t able to because they have children at home to take care of, or industry folks that come out of work late and want to treat themselves to a great meal without having to go out after a long shift. The possibilities could be endless.”
Danny Trace, Brennan’s of Houston (Houston)
“I think the trend of 2017 will be simple, pure, and authentic. There will be a resurgence of traditional charcuterie, and housemade sausages and pates will be in abundance. Confit will also be back in force. The local farmers are going to step up their game by raising more proteins and getting into purchasing things like gristmills. More local cheesemakers are going to surface, giving restaurants more options. Utilizing oatmeal as a savory addition to dishes will hit the menus also. African dishes and spices will be the huge cultural movement across the country.”
Daven Wardynski, Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort (Fernandina Beach, Florida)
“I have two predictions for 2017’s hottest food trends; higher quality pre-packaged goods and seaweed. I believe in 2017, we will go beyond packaging condiments such as honey and hot sauce and we will evolve into high quality food and beverage packaging such as a rye canned cocktail. Additionally, I think that the popularity of seaweed will rise whether it be pre-packaged chip, seaweed wraps or hand-made tempura nori.”
David Choi, Seoul Taco (St. Louis)
“I think ethnic and culturally diverse food, especially in the QSR industry, will be on the rise, even more so than it is now. I believe the dynamics of young diners and professionals are more apt to dine at a place that cares about their products and may expose them to a type of food or cuisine that they aren’t familiar with, but it also doesn’t break the bank.”
David Gilbert, Marais (Grosse Pointe, Mich.)
“In 2017, I think we’ll see more and more fine dining chefs diversifying their brands into all price points with new projects. For example, at Marais this year, we opened Marais Café in our bar space in the mornings, serving housemade French pastries, crepes, quiche and coffee. Marais Café is a great way to be able to experience what we do at a much lower price point. Additionally, we launched a weekend Farmer’s Market outside our restaurant this summer (and plan to make it bigger in 2017) where we teamed up with many of the local farmers that supply us produce and other products for the restaurant, to have them sell their products at the market. We also offered to-go rotisserie chickens and ducks (the same roasted chicken we use at the restaurant) at the market, at great prices. I think we’re going to see more of this type of expansion beyond traditional fine dining from many of our biggest names in haute cuisine. The demand is there from what we’ve seen.”
Diana Chauvin Gallé, La Thai (New Orleans)
“I believe one of the hottest trends for 2017 will be street food-inspired dishes. We've already started to see it on menus in 2016, but I think this is a gateway to other cultures, people, and places. Consumers get to discover flavors of local foods from faraway places and chefs get to create their versions of these street inspired local favorites.
“I think another trend that will continue to grow in 2017 is a hot new trend in spice, turmeric. I've used turmeric in curries for years, but I think we’ll continue to see it appear even more in juicing, shakes, salads, because of all of its amazing health benefits.”
Restaurateur Elizabeth Blau, Andiron Steak & Sea and Honey Salt (Las Vegas)
Chef-focused delivery : “2016 was the year of the chef-driven fast-casual concept, or fine casual, and that is a great thing — scaling high-quality food that is created with the consumer in mind, but also our supply chains is a wonderful endeavor. This year I am excited about chefs moving their restaurants out of storefronts and onto apps. From home meal replacement options to the best lunch delivery in NYC, chefs are fighting back on some of the litany of operational challenges they face with exciting and innovative combinations of technology, limite- edition menu items, and the ability to enjoy their food in your pajamas.”
Less meat burgers: “2016 saw the rebirth of the veggie burger as an oft-maligned lead weight designed to appease what the kitchen saw as an annoying subset to one of the most creative dishes coming out of any number of kitchens. At once a delicious bite of food and a political statement it is the perfect dish for our troubled times, and now in part thanks to science, one that often doesn’t come anything close to the dense pucks we’ve all accepted for years. Not only is the veggie burger having a renaissance, but creative chefs and operators are realizing that we can have our meat and eat less too by mixing in whole grains and creative ‘fillers’ to build a burger that is healthier, cheaper, and more sustainable.”
Modern Appetizing: “Outside of Manhattan and a couple other pockets of the country, I don’t know how many people really know about the wonderful food tradition that is appetizing, so I have been very excited over the past year to see a handful of operators expand and extend this wonderful world of salty and smoky snacks. Appetizing is an Old World tradition, in the truest sense, and the embrace of the craft fits well into the narrative of the current generation’s investigation of these great traditions. Whether it’s a smoked fish platter on a brunch menu or a true modern appetizing emporium, I look forward to seeing whitefish and caviar on more and more menus in the coming year.”
More Fermentation: “The top kitchens in the world have latched on to fermentation over the past several years, using it to develop entirely new flavor profiles, provide brightness and complexity to familiar dishes, and also introduce a health-friendly component to their often rich and indulgent food. From esoteric home-grown kimchi-iazations to kambuchas to lacto-fermented hot sauces to sourdough starters and charcuterie, chefs continue to discover and harness this powerful new technique. In 2017, look for more and more chefs to utilize fermentation to expand their menus and explore preserving food and minimizing waste.”
Emily Yuen, Bessou (New York City)
“I think kombu, kelp, and aquaculture in general are trending in the food world. It's highly sustainable and I see more restaurants using it outside of Japanese. We love using it in our stocks and dishes at Bessou!”
Erling Wu-Bower, Nico Osteria (Chicago)
"I think we’re going to see more authentic Chinese food concepts — more sophisticated, technical Chinese food that has very little resemblance to the take-out Chinese we’re used to seeing in the U.S. The culture and cooking techniques are so much deeper than that, and I think consumers are more interested than ever in learning about the true culture and history behind cuisines."
Erwin Tjahyadi, Komodo (West Los Angeles and Venice, Calif.)
“The trend I see being more widespread in 2017 is the use of sustainable ingredients in chefs' cooking. You should expect to see more restaurants incorporating locally sourced, seasonal, readily available, and humanely raised produce and meats. As more and more consumers embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle, it makes sense for chefs to follow suit. Not only is there the environmental benefit, there are also cost-saving advantages of using ingredients that are readily available.”
Gavin Kaysen, Spoon and Stable (Minneapolis)
“French is back! Like with fashion, French cuisine moves in and out of ‘cool’ as often as pork belly is on a menu. But it seems back now and people are ready and excited to eat escargot once again!”
Isaac Toups, Toups South and Toups Meatery (New Orleans)
“The elevation of the home cook. I'm getting so many more questions from home cooks that I used to get from sous chefs. The home cook is a lot more adventurous and I only see that moving even farther in the coming year. They want to know about advanced butchery, sauce-making, and charcuterie. I love it!
“Vinegar! I think vinegar will have a hell of a year in 2017. We have seen an awesome evolution in availability of amazing vinegars. This is only going to get better and more accessible this year. Increasing the acidity of food always makes a dish taste brighter and helps accentuate the other flavors. I love the ‘pok pok’ vinegars but my very favorite is the Jean-Marc citron vinegar.
“We will demystify fine dining even further. High-end ingredients will be a lot more accessible to diners in a more casual atmosphere. Education of the diners will take place in the more casual restaurants this year. Foie gras and caviar for the people!”
Ivy Stark, Dos Caminos (New York City and Atlantic City, N.J.)
“Veggies will continue to explode as a trend as they did in 2016, with the idea of veggies as the center of the plate extended even further. I had this great veggie charcuterie plate with smoked carrots, cured beets, mushroom pate, and beet chorizo at Ladybird, which focuses on this idea recently — I am not vegan, but I didn't miss the meat at all. I'm really trying to develop some of these ideas at Dos Caminos with our Meatless Monday platform.
“Plant butchery is going to be a big one: The idea focuses on meat eaters who are exploring plant-based alternatives. There are actually ‘butcher’ shops popping up in California that are catering to this group of people who don’t want to eliminate meat from their diet but are choosing to eat it less often. Root vegetables, legumes, and mushrooms are being transformed into ‘faux’ meat products created to appeal to both vegans and carnivores. Think Beet Burger.
“Seaweed is the new kale — remember, you heard it here.”
Jacob Saben, The Publican (Chicago)
“I think we are going to see more chefs focus their attention on vegetables and creative vegetable cookery. While The Publican was built upon the foundation of oyster, beer, and pork, we spend a lot of time focusing energy on sourcing new vegetables and creating a large vegetable section on the menu. I also think you are going to see more restaurants highlight heirloom varietals of vegetables and even some of the overlooked items. There are already quite a few restaurants around the Chicago area celebrating humble vegetables like turnips and parsley root in fun and innovative ways.”
Jacques Pepin, Chef, Television Personality, and Author
“Chefs are moving more toward plant-based food with smaller amounts of protein. Another trend: Chefs are competing with "fast food," by producing food that is casual and less costly, but is healthier and of a higher quality, like what Daniel Patterson is doing in San Francisco and José Andrés in Washington.”
Jason Heiman, Bangers & Lace (Chicago)
"I think that food trends are a little cyclical. In 2017, maybe everything old is new again. Ancient grains, forgotten veggies, fruits, etc. — things that used to be staples on menus coming back around. I see some of the usual suspects on menus getting tired, so we as chefs have to switch it up. Look for pulses, different greens (less kale), menu items that are derived from classic dishes from around the world with a new life. I imagine inspiration coming from unexpected places from street food to haute cuisine, Africa to Japan, getting reconditioned for the next guests through the doors."
Jonathan Rohland, Bartaco (Multiple Nationwide Locations)
“Bring the heat — heirloom chiles, ghost peppers, Carolina reaper, fish pepper, and using other non-mainstream chiles used to add heat to dishes. Restaurant social gathering halls; mixed use spaces with QSR restaurant quality dining and communal dining tables. Arepas, corn-based pocket-style sandwiches with unlimited options to be filled with... whether it be meat centric or all vegetarian. Worldly comfort foods, ethnic, simply prepared, soulful dishes. Meatless entrées, vegetables take the center stage.”
Josh Grinker, Kings County Imperial (Brooklyn)
“The main trend in my mind, which will certainly continue through the uncertain times of the next few years, is away from experimentation and a return to classic comfort food. Out with molecular gastronomy and in with traditional foods that offer satisfaction and a sense of history and place. Restaurants like Carbone perfectly embody this trend, serving flawless food in a restaurant reminiscent of a bygone, or barely bygone, era. This may be the most perfectly executed veal parmesan and osso buco I've ever had in my life. Not earth-shattering for its inventiveness, just for its style and execution. The future of food in America is a meld of fast food and slow food.”
Josh Laurano, La Sirena (New York City)
“Artisan grains: As we continually move forward in eating locally and sourcing out the best ingredients I see this as a definite trend. I see pasta and bread focused with grains that are either milled in house or close to the source as possible. I specifically see a focus toward buckwheat and using this in more applications.
“European coexistence: Possibly a restaurant that pulls the best of both Spain and Italy… hmmm. Looking toward other products that are outside of the realm of a cuisine you are attached to and finding ways to apply them in other dishes.
“North African and Morocco: Looking toward the flavors of North Africa with the abundant spices and storied Moorish history could possibly make a call in 2017. I can see these flavors popping up on some of the finest restaurants across the country.
“Taylor ham: I’m from New Jersey so one can only hope…”
Josh Sauer, Executive Chef, Avenue (Long Branch, N.J.)
“Vegetable tops: More chefs are utilizing carrot tops, turnip tops, dandelion greens, and beet tops, which were often thrown away in the past. You can make pesto with these and what I especially like to do at Avenue is dice up the tops and mix them into salads with romaine and other types of greens. It gives extra color to the salad as well as added nutritional value.”
“Seaweed: It is surprisingly versatile and lately have seen it used in different purées and juices. I’m thinking about adding a pasta with seaweed dish to the menu.”
“Middle Eastern flavors, especially spices like coriander, cumin and turmeric. For instance, at Avenue we make braised lamb shoulder with these spices, along with raisins for sweetness and harissa for extra heat.”
White Loft Studio
Justin Shoults, Oak + Rowan (Boston)
“Caviar is definitely in right now. Supply of caviar is greater than even five years ago. All my fish suppliers carry caviar all the time and are selling more and more of it. Diners seem to be responding well, and as chefs are becoming more knowledgeable, the guests do not seem to be as fearful of caviar.”
Keith Williamson, Datz (Tampa)
"Millennials are the ones determining the latest trends — the demographic that is eating out the most. They are eating out with friends/groups and spending more on their experience. I’ve noticed that their taste buds aren't screaming, 'I want organic!' They are actually saying, 'I want it because it’s unique or authentic.' So what I am really saying is that the food trends aren't necessarily in the recipe but a combination of the neo-epicure and the ambiance."
Kelly Fields, Willa Jean (New Orleans)
“I think 2017 will be the year for alternatives to processed sugar. It's something we're certainly starting to see more of in the baking world, but I think things like sorghum and cane syrup will finally return to their rightful places in the pantry. I think the movement of mindfulness in consumption choices, especially of knowing where your food is produced, will allow the smaller artisan farmers and producers to shine, especially in sugar production. Living in Louisiana, we have the luxury of knowing where and when our sugar is milled, we know the amazing guy who makes our cane syrup, and are on the front row of seeing sorghum's re-emergence. I personally hope this trend is just getting started!”
Kenny Gilbert, Gilbert's Underground Kitchen and Gilbert's Social (Jacksonville, Fla.)
“The next big thing will be Southern ‘meat and three’ restaurants. Down-home Southern fare like fried pork chops and a choice of three seasonal sides. This allows patrons to pick and choose what they like without the fuss.”
Kevin O'Donnell, SRV (Boston)
“I think a trend that we will see hit the Boston area soon that has already taken off recently in places like California is healthy fast food. I'm not talking about smoothies, poke, and quinoa bowls but companies like Locol from Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi who are creating thoughtful, flavorful, and mostly healthy fast-food menus. It just makes sense given everyone's busy lives and people being more conscious of eating healthier.”
Maneet Chauhan, Chauhan Ale & Masala House (Nashville)
“I think we will be seeing a bigger integration of ethnic ingredients into mainstream cuisine.”
Manish Mehrotra, Indian Accent (New York City)
“An increase in both the number and variety of Indian restaurants in the U.S., especially those that are delving into regional Indian fare. Indian chefs are increasingly moving away from heavy, curry-based ideas of Indian food that are not in fact true representations of India. This is because many diverse Indian restaurants opened in 2015 and 2016 and so audiences are more exposed to the nuances of Indian food.”
Marc Murphy, Landmarc Tribeca, Landmarc at Time Warner Center, Ditch Plains (New York City)
“I think vegetables will be taking center stage again. We’re starting to see it already as people are embracing vegetables as a main course rather than just a side. For example, cauliflower has become something of a star in recent months, making pizza crusts, fried ‘rice’ and even cauliflower steaks.”
What are you most excited to cook more of in the New Year?
“That’s hard to say. I'm always inspired by travel and am actually in Iceland right now. The food culture here is very different and very interesting (and no, I’m not talking about whale sushi or rotten shark!), so I’ll come back and incorporate some of these flavors into some specials for the New Year.”
“I'm so excited for 2017 - with the way the world is going, I think the trends will continue towards healthier foods. I believe root vegetables, especially things like turnips, rutabaga, and celery root, will all continue to rise in popularity, with their ability to be prepared in so many varying ways (braising, puree, raw, sautéed, etc.), and the resultant varying textures!
“I also think oily fish, those high in omega-3’s, like sardines, mackerel, trout, and herring will rise in popularity. These are fun ingredients to work with, because they respond to so many different preparations, both cold and hot (smoking, grilling, curing, etc.), and have an incredible flavor profile that works well with more assertive flavors!
“I'm very excited to continue my experimentation with my new super-food obsession, Mastiha, the PDO mastic resin from the island of Chios, Greece! It has such a unique flavor, earthy, sweet, savory - and it can be used in so many different dishes in distinct ways! I want to see how many applications I can execute, because Mastiha is so good for your health, both inside and out - and the taste is amazing!”
Maria Loi, Loi Estiatorio (New York City)
Matthew Kenney, Plant-Based Chef and Author
“The plant-based, raw, and vegan cuisine foodscape is truly becoming the future of food and can be expected to hit an even larger growth in 2017. With a whole new crop of plant-based products and restaurants popping up in non-major cities; the vegan community will flourish everywhere from San Francisco to Charlotte and everywhere in between.”
Michael Lombardi, SRV (Boston)
“Food trends that I think will continue are vegetable-centric cooking and the use of whole grains and fresh milled flour. I think we will see the exploration of super regional cuisines pushed further and more restaurant concepts trying to celebrate that. Dairy will replace gluten as the all-encompassing allergy or aversion, and chefs will need to consider how and when to use dairy more in their food to streamline operations.”
Michel Nischan, CEO and Founder of Wholesome Wave, James Beard Award-Winning Chef
"I think even more chefs will hone vegetable-centric cooking — especially superstar produce that we’ve seen come to national attention, like kale. I predict that 2017 will be the year of kohlrabi. This unsung hero is a kale cousin, and it’s at the sweet spot: a great value, good for you — and delicious cooked or raw, year round. I roast or purée it in winter and grate it into slaw come summer. Highlighting the local harvest has been a great move for the culinary industry, and at my nonprofit, Wholesome Wave, making that produce affordable for all is our mission."
Michael Solomonov, Zahav, Abe Fisher, Dizengoff, Federal Donuts, Percy Street Barbecue (Philadelphia)
"The Middle East and Persia will continue to be delved into by innovative and creative chefs in restaurants. Vegetable-forward cooking (not vegetarian) will become more common and (fingers crossed) pho enthusiasts will continue to slurp soup and noodles."
Miles Landrem, Johnny Sánchez (New Orleans)
“I think elevated ethnic cuisine, Mexican food as Mexicans eat (not just street food) will be a trend because this is becoming a new style of comfort food in the States. These dishes are appearing on (and being done very well) at some of the higher-end ‘cheffy’ restaurants in large cities and not just at the mom and pop ethnic restaurants that are usually off the beaten path . Mexican dishes such as well executed tacos and dishes like birria and pozole to Asian comfort foods like pho, ramen, steam buns, Israeli food, Indian food, etc. the list goes on. These are now foods that Americans recognize and crave, so I think this trend will continue and ‘American’ restaurants will continue to diversify their menus.”
Nathan Duensing, Marsh House (Nashville)
"Good food fast. Accomplished chefs will strive to make elevated food that they can get out quickly in an effort to satisfy the customers’ growing palate and shorter patience. With social media proving that a photo of a perfectly cooked burger can garner as many ‘Likes’ as a well-plated dish from a fine dining restaurant, it's hard to deny that fast food done right can be as impactful as a lavish dining experience."
Nick Sutton, The Gray Hotel and Vol. 39 (Chicago)
“More in-house charcuterie. Chefs want to make as much as they can in house because it shows a certain craft that, if done well, guests will come just for that craft.”
Oscar Cabezas, Telefèric Barcelona (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
“The regional kitchens will be the protagonists of the end of this decade. In a globalized world, the cuisine of essence, whose authenticity has been preserved with respect to cultural taste, has known how to adapt its flavor to the place where it’s made. We are a new example in relation to Spanish cuisine and its development outside its natural space: Cuisine is a world of ideas associated with creating common places that go beyond nations and borders.”
Pasquale Cozzolino, Ribalta (New York City and Atlanta)
“I think that in 2017 we’ll be seeing more fast-casual concepts that serve fine-dining quality food. People like to have good quality food, but don’t always have the time to sit down for a fine-dining experience.”
Phillip Lopez, The Troubadour (New Orleans)
“I strongly feel that in 2017 you will see a return of the classics — dishes that chefs have spent their whole lives trying to move away from. I myself have been running away from the timeless classics that I grew up watching Julia Child and Jacques Pepin make on television. Ironically, I have found myself striving to perfect and reimagine these dishes and have found comfort in knowing that our predecessors have laid the most perfect foundation to build upon.”
Ray Lampe, AKA Dr. BBQ, Dr. BBQ’s (Opening in St. Petersburg in 2017)
“My prediction may seem a little self-serving, but I think barbecue remains at the top of the list for all food trends. The good news is the trend has now gone beyond just adding more old-school barbecue joints to the landscape. Barbecue, along with its close cousin wood-fire grilling, is evolving into the mainstream and this is tasty news for all foodies. Great chefs are cooking heritage meats over wood coals and adding things like smoked beets and grilled corn to their menus all across the U.S. I don’t see this evolution stopping any time soon and I look forward to seeing what’s next. But it’s not just a U.S. thing. Real American barbecue is all the rage in Europe and it’s only a matter of time until those great chefs start tweaking it to fit the Euro palates. Barbecue may be an old trend, but for 2017, it’s new again.”
Ricardo Jarquin, Travelle Kitchen + Bar (Chicago)
“Seafood sustainability: This is something that some chefs, restaurateurs, and consumers have already began to look into but hasn’t quite received the attention it deserves. I believe that just like the farm-to-table movement, chefs next year will be paying more attention to where there fish comes from and how it affects the eco-system.”
“Filipino cuisine: Filipino cuisine has been slowly picking up momentum these last few years but I don’t think it has received the attention it deserves. Filipino food is delicious and diverse. It is a melting pot of Malay, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese cuisines. Its flavors are very familiar, yet unique at the same time. I think 2017 will be big for Filipino food.”
Roger Lee, ROKU (Los Angeles)
“The next big thing in my opinion is the continuation of bowls, but even more geared toward vegans and vegetarians (i.e. açai bowls). The increase in vegans and vegetarians has skyrocketed after the trend against MSG, and more and more people are going gluten-free. We’ve created a fairly extensive gluten-free menu at ROKU, which is quite popular.”
Ron Silver, Bubby's (New York City)
“I think the food trends of 2017 will be in the direction of simplicity and comfort. There has been a real resurgence in pie, and there are MANY amazing choices and styles of pie cropping up and being well received. People like Billy Durney are working diligently to perfect barbecue, biscuits, fried chicken. I don't mean this to seem Bubby-centric, but I do find it comforting to be either ahead of or behind a curve! I also am seeing a real openness on the part of local farms to grown interesting produce with well-sourced genetics. I see a proliferation of tasty fruits and vegetables that will be new additions to our already abundant palette. I predict a lot of chefs will jump into the newly emerging cannabis business. I also predict a proliferation of restaurants offering larger formats of family-style dining.”
Ryan Burns, The Blanchard (Chicago)
“Classic French cuisine seemed to reclaim its place in the spotlight in 2016, as I see that trend continuing to increase in 2017. Specifically, we’re going to see a return to super-classic and old-school techniques and equipment being used to create these dishes, and we’ll see them being used in new ways as well. Things like duck presses, or techniques like tournéed potatoes, which take a long time, but are iconic in classic French cooking. We’ll start to see those kinds of techniques used more and more in 2017, I believe.”
Shane Graybeal, Sable Kitchen & Bar (Chicago)
“I think there’s going to be a lot of attention on locally sourced craft pantry items that integrate wild ingredients — it’s taking local and sustainable to the next level. Lindera Farms Vinegar makes a beautiful Paw-Paw Vinegar and Ramp Vinegar, and instead of low-quality imported Italian olive oil, I’ve also started using extra-virgin cold-pressed canola oil from a little farm in Michigan.
“Cutting down our carbon footprint is more relevant now than it’s ever been. Alternative farming techniques will also start getting noticed more, like year-round hydro set-ups and tech assisted grow operations. Tim Frillman (Frillman Farms, Illinois) is working on an indoor greenhouse that is computer-controlled and 100-percent organic to ensure 365 harvest days that are not dependent on Mother Nature for sunshine, rain, or even nutrients. I can’t wait to see how farms continue to expand upon technology.”
Tal Ronnen, Crossroads Kitchen (Los Angeles)
“Plant-based dining will continue to find its way to the forefront of American palates as more and more traditional chefs experiment with plant-based ingredients as the central focal point of the dish. Here at Crossroads we built our entire concept on plant-based cuisine since 2013, complete with a full bar and wine program and it is exciting to see my peers increased interest such as Wynn Las Vegas. The Wynn has dedicated attention to plant-based menus for their concepts. Chickpeas will continue to be popular on menus in 2017 — we have them in several variations on the menu, and we we’re using aquafaba (the liquid from cooking chickpeas) in our cocktails and desserts as a replacement for egg white in our Morning Glory Fizz drink at the bar. I also see Mediterranean flavors and ingredients continuing to be in favor among chefs which is the inspiration behind our menu at Crossroads.”
Tim Yoa, Catch of the Pelican at Naples Grande Beach Resort (Naples, Fla.)
“With southwest Florida's growing food scene, it’s only natural that the food trends of 2017 will be on pace with the ongoing trends in the more populated cities. Of course, the quick service and health food will be trendy for years to come, but I would keep an eye out for the pop-up international favorites such as ramen, or Thai-style ice cream, even curries and other bold flavor dishes.”
Tomonori Takahashi, CEO/Founder of JINYA Ramen Bar (Various Locations)
"In 2017, you may have just your new best mate for your favorite beer: takoyaki. This ball-shaped Japanese street food is perfectly golden on the outside and molten inside with diced octopus and tempura. It is usually garnished with a slightly salty takoyaki sauce (perfect for drinking!), mayo, bonito flakes, green onions, and egg sauce on the bottom. They’re perfectly round and melt in your mouth. I think that even just few years ago people might have showed some resistance to eating octopus, but now thanks to the sushi trend people are already exposed to this squishy creature and have learned to love it. Let’s just say that the taste and texture is a game-changer to your typical snacks and appetizers, and you’re going to start seeing it on menus everywhere."
Tony Street, Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse and Street’s Fine Chicken (Dallas)
“I anticipate we will continue to see more Asian Fusion concepts and menus throughout 2017. This trend is already on an upward trajectory, and I only see it continuing to grow within the next year. I also think we’re going to continue seeing more fast-casual raw fish concepts, like Hawaiian poke. It’s healthy and tasty — and that never goes out of style.”
Travis Strickland, Baltaire (Los Angeles)
“I think a trend that will continue to emerge in 2017 is within the home meal delivery services. As more people are interested in learning professional techniques, I think these services will start to appeal to the more advanced home cook with more intricate recipes, or perhaps even note-worthy dishes from outstanding restaurants scaled for home cook portions with step-by-step instructions on how to recreate. As of now, most are 30-minute meals, but we all know that good food isn't fast food!”