2018 has me really excited as the start of the new year equals new restaurant openings and new food trends! I’m lucky enough to live outside one of the biggest, most ethnically diverse cities in the world with thousands of food related options to choose from daily. I’m constantly reading up on new restaurant openings and researching what famous chefs across the country are up to. Here are eight food related trends I am loving for 2018-2019. Please comment below and let me know your thoughts!
The rise of Farming and Small Batch Production:
- There’s no denying the rise in farm to table restaurants across the United States. Everyone wants to know exactly where their food is coming from and that the food they are eating is the freshest it can be. There’s a reason the high end farm to table restaurant in upstate New York, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is #11 on the World’s Best 50 Restaurants. The restaurant is all about serving fresh food grown right on its farm to its customers. Sometimes the dishes are really simple, such as a plate of plain root vegetables, but the taste is pure and refined. The chef and owner, Dan Barber, set out to prove that freshly picked carrots from a small plot of land taste 100 times better than mass produced carrots that have been sitting on supermarket shelves for weeks. In his book, The Third Plate, Dan Barber points to a form of American eating where good farming and good food intersect. The book talks about the importance of sustainability and using the land to cultivate seasonal produce in small batches, just enough to feed the animals, and the customers dining in the restaurant. The author talks about the importance of bringing farming back to basics, and why it’s so important for the future.
2. The rise of high end butchers, bakeries, farmers and farmers markets, and their various niche skills.
Bakeries, baking their own fresh bread using the finest ingredients. One example of this is Mill, in San Francisco where they use a mill to grind all of their whole grain flour every day.
Butchers. The number of butcher shops had faded away with large scale supermarket chains offering lower prices, but now they’re making a comeback as people want high end cuts and they also want to know where their meat came from.
Farmers markets have also been on the rise, often showcasing weekly events in cities across the United States. The world-famous Union Square Greenmarket in NYC has grown from a few farmers in 1976 to over 140 vendors!
- Vertical indoor farming has also quickly gained in popularity, bringing more farms closer to where people live, reducing expenses and environmental impact. In Sweden, a multipurpose building will open in 2020 with 16 stories of farms and offices, which will save 1,100 tons of CO2 emissions and 13 million gallons of water. These vertical farms offer so may benefits, it’s impossible to ignore this future type of farming (Forbes.com).
Experimenting in food and drinks:
Here are four trends that relate to the rise in experimental freedom.
- The increased popularity of both street food and food halls. As I discussed in my previous article, on September Food Trends, food halls are popping up all over the United States as people are looking for a diversity of options to choose from. Street food and restaurants offering street food, such as Laut, a Malaysian restaurant in NYC, are increasing in popularity as chefs are traveling all over the world and taking food concepts back with them. (I believe Anthony Bourdain started this trend as he spent countless episodes of Parts Unknown in Asia eating at various street vendors!)
- Pop up restaurants. The rise of pop up restaurants in London has been quite incredible. Conde Nast Traveler does an excellent article on London pop-ups here. With the increase of social media in today’s society, people want to try out new restaurants and bars before anyone else.
- Mixing cuisines and ingredients in food. It’s anything goes these days! Recently I checked out, the Lobster Club in New York City, and had Frois Gras on top of sushi. They also offered a roll with truffles and caviar.
- Mocktails. As people are looking to eat healthier, they are also looking to drink less booze. It seems food trends often come from Europe over to the USA and mocktail bars are all the rage in London right now. Here is a list of London’s best bars for mocktails.
The rise of fast casual chains:
2017 was a huge year for fast casual chains and experts expect this trend to continue in 2018-2019, (think Shake Shake, that place is killing it!) Evolving consumers tastes and creative restaurant concepts are the driving force behind this growth. More and more consumers are looking for healthy, high quality, imaginative cuisine to eat within a limited time frame. Many high end chefs and restauranteurs across the country have gotten on board this trend with the opening of fast casual pizzerias, such as Martina in NYC by Chef Nick Anderer of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, and the guys behind the #1 restaurant in the world, 11 Madison Park, with their opening of Made Nice in NYC, as well as Jose Andreas spot, Beefsteak, a veggie-centric with 5 locations in D.C and Philly.
Elevating your senses:
- Eating with your seven senses: Chef Grant Achatz is easily one of the pioneers of sensory eating. His restaurant, Alinea, is quite the experimental experience; many featured dishes appeal to the sense of sight, taste, smell, and feeling. When I dined here in September 2017, we were given an edible inflated balloon for dessert, as well as bubble gum flavored dessert which immediately brought back feelings of nostalgia from when I was a little kid. It was quite the experience.
The Aviary, in Chicago and now New York features many unique drinks with strong smells and tastes, such as the ‘Wake and Bake’, a mix of rye, coffee-and orange-infused vermouth, as well as coffee liqueur, that’s served in a clear plastic ‘pillow’. When the pillow is cut open, the bag unleashes a flavor so strong you’ll almost fall off your chair as you’re immediately taken to your favorite coffee shop.
- Augmented reality: the first augmented reality cocktail bar, City Social Restaurant and Bar, in London allows visitors to enjoy an immersive experience with their drink. Each drink provides a unique experience, featuring artwork that reflects the drinks flavors and themes. Although the establishment won’t give away all of its secrets, it has said that a few of the animations are inspired by well-known artists such as Van Gogh and Picasso. This encourages consumers to see, taste and experience food and drinks in a whole new way. Augmented reality continues to grow as it can act as vehicles for transparency. KabaQ has created an AR menu that allows visitors to see their options in 3D before deciding what to order. The global market is expected to reach 90 billion dollars by 2020. Find out more here.
Generosity to others and creating communities:
- Forward thinking younger generations want to give back. Millennials are favoring companies that give back to others and customers also expect companies to source ingredients ethically, and support the local environment. For example, Sombra Mezcal donates 1% of sales to certified environmental charities and local education initiatives in Oaxaca, Mexico.
- Sharing food and experiences with others. Check out my article on the company EatWith. This app allows aspiring chefs to cook for others in their own homes. They post their events and locations online and interested parties pay to come over to their residences and eat their food while dining with strangers on a given evening. I highly suggest giving it a go.
- Incredible Edible: the network, started in the U.K. and branched out into Europe looks to promote sustainable food production and consumption locally and nationally. There are three main factors they focus on from growing produce and working together, to providing training from the field to the classroom and supporting local commerce.
- Influencers. Instagram is taking over the world! Did you know food is the #1 thing mentioned on Instagram? Don’t go on Instagram if you’re hungry or on a diet! Seriously though, companies are embracing the social media world and realizing that in order to succeed, they need to work with influencers to get the word out about their restaurant and help them get on board with the latest trends. Check out the Eater.com article on Going Viral. Many restaurants are finding it necessary to hire marketing agencies that develop specialized content for restaurants, including creating recipes, Instagrammable photos and designing exclusive events to get their clients name out there on social media. Who can forget the Starbucks Unicorn Frappacino? That drink was posted everywhere on social media for months!
- Instagram friendly restaurants. Restaurants are also catering to Instagrammers by making their restaurants ‘Instagram friendly’, by having a special Instagram table with adjustable, shadow-eliminating overhead lights and NYC’s all pink Pietro Nolita.
- Plant based diet. Let’s face it, vegan is the new cool. Whether you’re eating vegan to be healthier, for the ethical treatment of animals or to better to the environment, many people are incorporating vegan principles into their diet at least a few days a week. With the rise of plant based ‘meat burgers’ from companies such as Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and Memphis Meats, the trend is catching on rather quickly. Now companies such as Ocean Hugger Foods are using vegetables to create ‘sushi’ too. It will be interesting to see how this trend pans out in 2018-2019.
- Being educated on what you are eating. People are reading labels more, and researching products and the impact certain foods can have on their bodies.
- People demanding fresh healthy foods and expecting them to taste good too. Social media have been a huge enabler of this, with the rise of vegan cooks and health based Instagram accounts. Consumers are demanding more from what they eat and expecting companies to offer them products to help them feel good and live longer.
Future of Supermarkets:
There are many visions of what the future of supermarkets will look like, from no checkout stands, to robots helping to stock shelves, to virtual stands in the stores to help you visually create recipes, to waste free supermarkets like In.gredients in Austin, TX, to greenhouses and farms on the roofs of grocery stores and grocery stores with restaurant inside where shoppers can give chefs their recently purchased items and the chef will give them a finished product to take home to their family…the possibilities are endless. Check out my article on November Foods trends for more info!
What are your thoughts? Is there anything you’re looking forward to seeing in 2018? Did I miss any trends?! I would love to hear from you!