TLT predicts: The 10 Food Trends of 2016

After a year filled with breakfast dishes, shared dining and healthy cookbooks, it’s about time for a look into the future of food. What can we expect for next year? What will be the food trends of 2016?


1. Have it your way
Today’s restaurant guest isn’t the easiest one. It’s not uncommon when an order is preceded by a long list of allergies and intolerances, or involves special dishes of the “secret menu”: not on the menu, but secretly available for the in crowd. When the food then arrives to the table, guests use the ever-expanding assortment condiments (spicy hgochujang or harissa, for instance) to make their dish truly unique. It’s even more interesting when guests can create an entire dish, at iDessert in San Diego for instance, where you can customize a complete dessert on iPads.


2. Un-restaurants
The traditional restaurant certainly won’t disappear, but there will be more room for disrupting alternatives in the market. Ordering food, for instance, which becomes easier with initiatives like uberEats and Amazon Prime, which take away part of the direct contact between restaurant and guests. Also in the Netherlands, where we have new concepts like Foodora, Deliveroo and TringTring for restaurant dishes on order. At the same time, restaurants chefs are working together with food boxes: recently HelloFresh announced their future collaboration with Jamie Oliver. Or take ‘un-restaurants’ like Lazy Bear in San Francisco, where everyone pays in advance, arrives at the same time and can peek in the kitchen if they want to. A bit like a fancy dinner at your friends, where tipping can feel slightly uncomfortable. Speaking about tipping: hospitality entrepreneur Danny Meyer (i.e. Shake Shack) made news with his new ‘no-tipping policy’. The restaurant world is changing indeed.



Picture credits: Lazy Bear, San Francisco


3. No additions please
The critical consumer of today doesn’t want GMO chicken or pie dough with palm oil and three kinds of sugar. Chain Chipotle broke through by using hormone free meat and is currently investigating alternatives for preservatives in their tortillas. Customers want ‘clean labels’, with little, familiar ingredients they can pronounce and without all kinds of additions like yeast extract or fructose syrup. Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, Jamie Oliver makes a stand for a sugar tax on sugary drinks.


4. More breakfast
Being the author of the recently published All-day breakfast book and as a big breakfast lover myself, it’s no wonder I’m pretty biased, but I am certain that the breakfast trend will continue to grow. The first Dutch all-day breakfast restaurants have opened their doors and more and more interesting breakfast delivery services pop up. Breakfast in bed is so much better when you don’t need to make it yourself. We’re also going to see more exciting, international breakfast dishes like acai bowls, shakshuka and savory porridge. And of course those can be eaten all day.



acai bowl, picture credits: Denise Kortlever


5. Meat alternatives
At this moment, it’s pretty clear that the world needs to eat less meat. Therefore, the current spotlight is on many alternatives. Take beans for instance: they’re affordable, nutritious and very good for you. It’s no wonder the Food & Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has declared 2016 as the year of the bean. Seaweed and sorts alike also get more and more attention and the Dutch Vegetarian Butcher recently got a large investment to expand their production facilities. Even eating insects is clearly on the rise. At Lavinia in Amsterdam for instance, where the ‘Protein Booster’ is filled with pistachios and maggots.


6. From root to stalk
In addition to the trend above, vegetable are still very much in the spotlight. At the highly praised Al’s Kitchen in San Francisco for instance, where vegetables are always the star of a plate. Or take the small but very impressive Glen Ellen Star, where humble vegetables like cauliflower are being transformed in the wood-fired oven into amazing, slightly blackened dishes. And let’s not forget the vegetarian ‘Taste of Waldorf’ dish of Librije’s Zusje’s chef Sidney Schutte. In recent years it became normal to eat our meat from ‘nose to tail’, but nowadays the ‘no waste’ principal is also bon ton for vegetables. From root to stalk, that is.


7. Fine casual
Last year I mentioned ‘fast casual’, this year it’s all about ‘fine casual’ restaurants like Spork in Dallas (not coincidentally built in an old Sonic) and the yet to open LocoL (from Michelin chef Daniel Patterson). These are approachable restaurants that star chefs open besides their current expensive high-end place. Sometimes to offer the public a healthy alternative for fast food, sometimes just because the chef finds such a no-nonsense restaurant interesting. And ‘fine’ doesn’t only apply to the quality of the food, but also to the atmosphere and extras. At burger chains Gott and Shake Shack, this means ordering a glass of wine with your burger. “People don’t want to park their good taste at the door, just because they want to have a quick lunch”, says Shake Shack’s Danny Meyer. And he is absolutely right.



left: Gott, right: shrubs | picture credits: Denise Kortlever


8. New Sweetness
Traditional sweet dishes often get a makeover. At the hip and happening Gjelina and Gjusta in LA for example, where the banana bread is made with nutty buckwheat and where they serve limeades with cucumber and delicious shrubs (fruit drinks based on drinking vinegar). Sweet dishes become less sweet, but much more interesting and the other flavors often shine much more though. And now that Jamie Oliver’s proposed sugar tax is still not there, new sweets offer attractive alternatives. Without being completely terrified of sugar of course, because true sugar free dishes are rare.


9. Holy Smoke
We’re going to smoke even more than we already did. Our food, that is. Forget smoked salmon, because in 2016 we are going to see smoked whipped cream, smoked dashi, smoked butter… If you can smoke it, it’s probably on a trendy restaurant menu somewhere. Smoked with care and knowledge of course, to minimize any health risks. Personally, I was a big fan of the smoked burrata at San Diego’s Juniper & Ivy and the smoked egg yolk of Sidney Schutte for Waldorf Astoria.


10. From poke to Boursin
What else will we see next year? I predict the rise of the Hawaiian poke, also because I’m a big fan myself. While we ate Chinese or Thai food before, in 2016 we will go for Burmese or Cambodian food. Even more food halls, spread across the country. Matcha in desserts. “Cheap” ingredients like Boursin and spam, but then in star-worthy dishes. Birch water as an alternative to coconut water. And turmeric as much-loved extremely healthy spice.


Tip: Want to see last year’s predictions? Check them out here

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