Restaurants Getting Fresher, Less Ingredient-Obsessed in 2017

The latest edition of the National Restaurant Association's What’s Hot survey of chefs from the American Culinary Federation finds that broader cultural trends are having a big impact on menus.

What does the restaurant industry have in store for 2017?

Obviously, a lot of tasty trends—but let’s get a little more specific than that. Newly released research from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) suggests that 2017 will be the year of the bigger concept.

In other words, it’s less about specific ingredients, such as the once-hard-to-ignore quinoa, and more about bigger experiences, such as street food or food halls. Instead of black rice, diners are more interested in hyperlocal sourcing of ingredients and in sustainable approaches.

“Menu trends today are beginning to shift from ingredient-based items to concept-based ideas, mirroring how consumers tend to adapt their activities to their overall lifestyle philosophies, such as environmental sustainability and nutrition,” NRA Senior Vice President of Research Hudson Riehle said in a news release. “Also among the top trends for 2017, we’re seeing several examples of house-made food items and various global flavors, indicating that chefs and restaurateurs are further experimenting with from-scratch preparation and a broad base of flavors.”

The survey gathered responses from nearly 1,300 chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation. A few other trends to watch in 2017:

Looking for a fresh cut. The chefs say that innovative cuts of meat, such as the Vegas Strip Steak, oyster steak, and shoulder tender, are going to attract more meat eaters.

An eye toward transparency. “Fresh, natural, and simple are the culinary words of the day,” NRA says. With ingredient lists under scrutiny, chefs are more likely to make menu items where every ingredient is minimally processed and easy to spot.

Produced on location. It’s not just about local sourcing. Hyperlocal foods and beverages, which are produced literally onsite (veggies grown in rooftop gardens, for example), are one of the new year’s hottest trends.

Check out the NRA website to see other highlights from the What’s Hot 2017 Culinary Forecast [PDF].


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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