Innovative Usage Ideas for Current Food Trends


Are you wondering what food trends are on the culinary horizon? Let us help you to sort
through the up-and-coming trends that may be a fit for your menu or specials board.


Mainstream Mediterranean

Customers love hummus, charred octopus, and lamb tagines—and even though they may come from different countries, they’re now being served together on some of the most on-trend menus. Modern Mediterranean is a mixture of many regions that share a love of healthy, delicious ingredients like cucumbers, lemons, olives, onions, and tomatoes.

  • Give traditional hummus a boost with flavors from across the region: sun-dried tomatoes, garbanzo beans, gherkins, olives, and almonds.
  • Fill wraps with Israeli couscous, dill yogurt, falafel or kebab meats, and pickled vegetables like carrots and cauliflower.
  • Herbs as diverse as basil, bay leaves, dill, rosemary, and thyme play an integral role in these regional recipes.

Breakfast is Bustling

The most important meal of the day? To many foodservice operators, this is true. And while classic morning offerings remain popular (think omelets, pancakes, and breakfast burritos), newcomers such as acai bowls, fresh-pressed juices, and ramen, as well as upgraded retro dishes like oatmeal, quiche, and waffles are also spurring sales.

  • Half of all breakfast menus feature sandwiches: fill bagels and breads with eggs, salty meats, and vibrant produce like avocados, heirloom tomatoes, and  crunchy romaine .
  • Unexpected ingredients like green jackfruit and kimchi are being seen on menus—in eggs benedict, pancake batter, even donuts!
  • Customization is key; give diners the ability to mix and match their ingredients.

Spice Blends

Bold flavors are critical regardless of cuisine, segment, or daypart. Bland, mild dishes have no place on today’s in-demand menus...whether you serve spicy, bright, bitter, or sweet—make sure your creations make a statement with global spice blends.

  • Millennials (and now Gen Z) are driving the changes in today’s foodservice world—and they have made it clear they want flavor with a capital F.
  • Makeover traditional recipes: pump up the sour notes of lemonade with preserved lemons and Herbes de Provence, develop the umami of burger-topping tomatoes by charring with harissa, and give noodle soups zing with Japanese togarashi.
  • Don’t leave out desserts: accent berries and melons with exotic blends like baharat, jerk spice, and chaat masala.

Giving Back

Diners do their homework before choosing from the ever-increasing number of foodservice options at their disposal. Many take the time (especially Millennials) to research and choose their eating destination based on the ethics of the chef and/or company. Establishing a relationship with your community, whether that is local, national, or international, is an important part of doing business in today’s world.

  • Partner with schools, hospitals, local sports teams, soup kitchens,  churches, and civic organizations...get out into the community to create loyal customers.
  • It’s not only individual restaurant contributions and service that matter, it’s who you are aligned with as well. Work with companies of integrity and toot your horn about it on social media to encourage others to follow suit.

21st Century Citrus

The days of lemon wedge garnishes aside fish platters or in cocktails is fading fast. Citrus, especially in the winter months when it is in peak season, is playing a more critical role. Chef are using myriad varieties to give sophisticated brightness and balance to both sweet and savory recipes.

  • A squeeze of lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice can give just about any dish that needed boost of acidity.
  • Chefs get bonus points for adding charred or blistered slices to savory meat and seafood plates; the combination of smokiness and sour notes adds serious complexity.
  • Buddha’s hand can be grated onto extremely rich dishes like bone marrow, macaroni and cheese, and fettucine alfredo to cut the heaviness.
  • Specialty varieties like blood oranges, kumquats, and finger limes (a.k.a. citrus caviar) are gaining popularity for their distinctive flavors and unusual appearances.
  • Stacking rounds of alternately sweet and tart fruits makes a healthy, palate-cleansing course.

Clean Cocktails

Clean eating is the practice of being more mindful of what you put into your body. The movement continues its ascent through such microtrends as pressed juices, ancient grains, and produce as the center of the plate. Logically, it’s made its way into the beverage sector—creating demand for drinks (including cocktails) that use sustainable ingredients, make ample use of fresh fruits and vegetables, and don’t include added sugars, unnatural colors, or additives. The goal is to keep it simple by using bright, natural flavors that are good for health.

  • The term clean cocktail may seem like an oxymoron, but not all drinks are created equally. By skipping the corn-syrup soda and grenadine, and substituting fresh herbs and vegetable purees, you up the nutritional quotient.
  • Shrubs are vinegar-based syrups added to drinks to add depth without too much sweetness—we like them made with ruby red beets, brilliant blood oranges, or verdant watercress.
  • Bloody Marys are perhaps the queen of brunchtime drinks; pump up yours with crunchy stalks of celery, house-made tomato juice, and freshly grated  horseradish.
  • Tequila’s cousin mezcal is having a moment; go beyond straight shots or sipping portions and add roasted/pureed apples, ginger, and cinnamon.
  • The list of creative produce additions is vast, including charred grapes, salt-roasted plantains, smoked tomato water, green tea with cucumber, and kombucha-grapefruit juice.

The Hot List

  • Vadouvan
  • Branzino
  • Olives
  • Classic soup upgrades
  • Dried shrimp
  • Radish greens
  • Smoked mullet
  • Chile Colorado sauce
  • Eastern European foods
  • Babkas
  • Lean game meats
  • Pears
  • Vermouth
  • Indian street foods
  • Cakes
  • Seafood stews
  • Plant butchery
  • Waste reduction
  • Korean-fried vegetables
  • Sumac
  • Ugly produce
  • Bioluminescent plankton
  • Meatless alternatives
  • Childhood desserts

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