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A Taste of 2018: Restaurant Association Reveals Food Trends

By / Dec 5, 2017 (MarianVejcik/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot forecast, done with the help of the American Culinary Federation, suggests offbeat doughnuts are on the way in and fancy cheeses are on the way out.

Need an idea of what your annual meeting’s menu should look like next year? The National Restaurant Association  has lots of suggestions.

This week, NRA released the latest edition of its What’s Hot culinary forecast, which was decided upon with the help of nearly 700 members of the American Culinary Federation, giving the association’s list a chef-approved sheen.

“ACF chefs dedicate countless hours to continuing education and professional development to stay at the forefront of culinary innovation, allowing them to respond to and redefine diners’ expectations in an ever-changing food service landscape,” ACF National President Stafford T. DeCambra said in a news release.

Some of the highlights from this year’s list [PDF]:

The biggest food trend: It’s not just about T-bones and filet mignon anymore. The biggest trend, according to the list, is the rise of new cuts of meat such as Vegas Strip Steak, Merlot cut, and shoulder tender. The trend represents improvements in meat-cutting capabilities and research, and it represents the evolution of a trend that turned the flat iron steak into one of the most popular cuts of meat about a decade ago. Also on the list: house-made condiments, street food, and ethnic-inspired dishes.

Driving concepts: 2018 is going to be a great year if you like things fresh, natural, veggie-centric, or up close. The biggest 2018 trend in restaurant concepts, per the survey, is expected to be hyperlocal foods—specifically, things produced onsite. Also buzzy are natural ingredients, reducing food waste, veggie-driven menus, and locally sourced meats and produce.

What’s out? Throw away your Mason jars, because they’re out of style, according to the survey. Food trends that are also cooling down: artisan cheeses, heirloom fruits, and house-made ice creams and sausages. Driving interest instead, per the survey, are doughnuts that have nontraditional fillings, ethnic-inspired dishes for kids, and Peruvian cuisine.

What’s driving these trends? It’s not the chefs, says NRA Senior Vice President of Research Hudson Riehle.

“Guests are implementing these trends in their own lifestyles and want to see them reflected on restaurant menus,” Riehle said in the news release. “In response, chefs are creating more items in-house and turning to global flavors.”

Check out more info about this year’s survey on the NRA’s website.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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