After a year filled with all-day breakfast, vegetables and sour flavors (you can read last year’s predictions here), it’s about time for a look into the future. What food trends can we expect for 2017?
1. Bowls, bowls, bowls
I must admit, I am not entirely objective, being the author of the recently published ‘All-day bowls’ cookbook, but we can’t deny this trend. The bowl is getting even more popular in 2017. Poke can now be found on many trendy menus, but will soon convey the rest of the world. Just like all those other trendy bowls: pho, burrito bowls, smoothie bowls, ramen, salad bowls and many more. Not much of a surprise, since bowls are symbolic for a new way of eating that’s light and relaxed. Have a look at the very Instagram-worthy bliss bowls, that make ‘eating the rainbow’ very easy. Also, bowls are the perfect vehicle for comfort food and that’s something we can all use in these crazy times.
(All-day bowls, credits: Denise Kortlever)
2. Nuts for mylk
Dairy free milk – sometimes called mylk – is something we’ve seen for a while, but next year, the nowadays very common almond milk will be accompanied by new sorts. Think hazelnut milk, pistachio milk or very creamy macadamia milk. These mylks aren’t just a dairy free alternative; they’re just as interesting in taste and texture. And for those who can’t eat dairy and can’t eat nuts (now that must be hard!), there’s always oat milk. Perfect to make your already trendy porridge extra creamy.
3. Green focus + comfort good
Last year, I mentioned the rise of vegetables and that just keeps on going. Firstly, because vegetables are taking the center stage in many restaurant dishes, without getting a ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ label. Have a look at restaurant Nix in New York for instance, where I enjoyed a wonderful “vegetarian meal for meat-eaters” last Spring. Or take the deli chain Pret a Manger, who recently turned their pop-up ‘Veggie Pret’ into a permanent place and is ready to expand.
Vegetables can also be seen as comfort food, or as I like to call it: comfort good. Think zucchetti or carrot ribbons that replace traditional pasta more and more (apparently, regular pasta sales have collapsed), or cauliflower rice and – pizza. Veggies can also be more and more found in trendy ice cream flavors, that will probably convey all the fit girls: avocado ice cream, bell pepper ice cream, pumpkin ice cream…
(credits: Pret a Manger)
4. Butcher to table
That green focus doesn’t automatically mean that we will stop eating meat completely. No, we will be eating less meat, but when we do, we choose wisely and consciously. This means an increase interest in lesser-known cuts of the animal and choosing for alternatives like goat meat. Furthermore, we see more and more collaborations between high-quality butchers and restaurants. Where guests choose nose-to-tail cuts from well-treated animals and where artisanal products like sausage and rilette can be found on the menu. After ‘farm to table’ we now see ‘butcher to table’. World-famous chef April Bloomfield (i.e. The Spotted Pig) recently founded White Gold – named after those white streaks in fatty meat – a restaurant + butcher that will supply all her other restaurants. In the Netherlands, we have the Brandt & Levie products, which can be found on many restaurant menus.
5. Fast casual 2.0
The fast casual trend continues to grow. This means there are countless concepts with natural, organic, locally, seasonal and authentic food and new concepts keep on opening. The trend is evolving too. First, there are many new fast casual concepts that specifically focus on healthy food. Beefsteak by José Andrés for instance, veggie chain Sweetgreen or the many poke concepts.
We also see fast casual places that combine the best of two worlds. American hotdog place FLX Wienery for instance, where a well-known sommelier provides every guest with a matching glass of wine with his/her hotdog.
Even more approachable are vending machines, that aren’t just for candy bars anymore. In San Francisco you can take freshly baked baguettes from the Le Bread Xpress machine and in Los Angeles, they even have vending machine caviar.
6. Into the new kitchen
Restaurant kitchens used to be pretty much hell on earth, but things seem to change. Noma’s chef Rene Redzepi mentioned in an interview that something had to change about the terrible restaurant culture with chefs that were being bullied for non-existent salaries. After his burnout, he decided to do things differently. But also have a look at the New York restaurant Cosme (nr. 16 in the world!), where 50% of the chefs are female, and the kitchen has to be a fun place where learning is stimulated. Very much in line with the current spirit of times, where there is more attention going towards a life besides work (see the sudden goodbye of Formula 1-driver Rosberg or the long paternity leave/sabbatical of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg).
7. The supermarket is dead. Long live the supermarket
Not only restaurants notice changes, but the supermarket world also changes a lot. There are many new initiatives that make it unnecessary for customers to visit the store, like the Blue Apron and HelloFresh meal kits. It’s interesting that supermarket products are getting more and more innovative. Little startups with unique products are doing very well. The Amsterdam-based ‘kitchen incubator’ Kitchen Republic is growing incredibly fast. New entrepreneurs use the incubators network and knowledge to get their products (‘Granola for gangsters’, ‘Let’s Salsa’) into small-chain supermarkets like Marqt and Stach. It’s not such a coincidence that the Unilevers and Coca Cola’s in this world are staring to get nervous and buy many of those interesting start-ups, in order to use their insights.
(credits: Ztrdg + Granola for Gangsters)
These days, many restaurants, coffee spots and lunch places look a lot alike. Anywhere in the world. Lots of white, old wood, a couple of hanging baskets, vintage design chairs, old rugs… Sometimes you can easily forget which city you’re in. This development is called Airspace, named after Airbnb, the website with the bright pictures that definitely had its influence. But don’t underestimate the influence of Instagram, where marble countertops, pineapples and flamingos are following each other in quick succession and are copied in the entire world. It is somewhat boring, this airspace, and therefore it’s a good thing we notice a small counter-trend: the bathrooms in trendy restaurants are becoming more and more unique. Take Denver-based Black Eye Coffee, where audio books are being played on a rotating loop. In Seattle, you will find disco balls and a light show in Dino’s Tomato Pie. And the Amsterdam W-hotel has an infinity bathroom, that’s already pictured in many bathroom selfies.
Seaweed is being called ‘the new kale’ and for good reason. The increasing popularity of seaweed (and pretty much all sea veggies) is probably caused by the rise of ramen restaurants, because the base of this Japanese noodle soup is often a broth with kombu (=seaweed). Just as important is the fact that seaweed brings lots of umami flavor to a dish and therefore is a popular ingredient for many chefs.
10. From radish to koji
What else can we expect in 2017? Chickpea flour (also called gram flour), because of its gluten free nature and because of its versatility in many dishes, socca being the most well known. We are definitely not done with cauliflower. Radishes, in all sorts and sizes. Asian bakeries (and steamed buns). Many sorts of spicy peppers. And koji, the enzyme that transforms soy beans into miso and that apparently makes pretty much everything more tender and delicious.
Tip: Want to see last year’s predictions? Check them out here.