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.


Center Stage: Salads

Good health, nutrition, and sustainability, have dominated trends for the last several years. Salads, from leafy greens to grilled vegetables to pickled fruits, fit the bill for just about every diet, making them a slam dunk for modern menus.

  • Take care when crafting salad recipes—don’t take for granted that customers will order old stand-bys.
  • Not all salads feature lettuce. Thick slabs of tomatoes in a variety of colors and sizes wow guests with a grand visual presentation.
  • Keep it seasonal: grilled vegetables like corn, eggplant, and yellow squash add texture and flavor to kale and romaine salads.

Flexitarian Menus

Today’s dining public has such a wide variety of wants and needs that it makes sense to include at least one vegan, vegetarian, low-carb, and gluten-free option to escape the veto vote. No matter your focus, offer something for everyone.

  • Pizza and flatbreads are easy to customize for many eating choices; use crumbled cauliflower to make gluten-free crusts, skip the meat for a vegetarian pie, and use intense spice or herb flavors like chimichurri, gremolata, or coconut peanut sauce rather than cheese to keep it vegan without losing boldness.
  • Even steakhouses can participate with thoughtful, veg-centric pasta dishes like spinach ravioli, asparagus-pea risotto, or wild mushroom ragu with polenta.
  • The flex in flexitarian means that sometimes these diners don’t mind small amounts of meat as a flavoring agent—try flecks of proscuitto with goat cheese/jam toasts or bits of ham hock in collard greens.

Creative Condiments

A simple way to incorporate on-trend, global flavors (without changing your entire menu) is to offer flavored mayonnaises, enhanced ketchups, and variations on traditional mustards. Give classic sandwiches and grilled proteins different flavor profiles with wordly herbs and spices.

  • North African and Middle Eastern blends such as ras al hanout, dukkah, berbere, zaatar, and baharat can be added to aiolis, remoulades, and mashed avocados.
  • Japanese powders like furikake and togarashi can be lightly sprinkled on raw fish or grilled vegetables.
  • Add depth to sauces with curry mixes like garam masala and vadouvan.
  • Give favorites like Ranch dressing and hummus heat with Sriracha, wasabi, or gochujang.

Poke Power

It feels like poke (pronounced po-kay) bowls, dishes of sliced or cut raw fish and seasoned rice, were merely a regional Hawaiian specialty just a short time ago. Fast forward to today and they have become a global phenomenon with entire restaurants dedicated to this cult favorite.

  • Toss sesame-soy marinated ahi chunks with lime zest, avocados, cilantro, and Thai chile peppers; serve as appetizers in bite-size spoons.
  • Those seeking to reduce calories and carbs can serve poke atop chopped lettuces like green leaf and romaine, or in iceberg cups.
  • The list of possible toppings is vast; some of the most popular include edamame, sesame seeds, green onions, avocados, hot radishes, chile peppers, seaweed, spicy mayonnaise, and furikake seasoning.

Smoked, Charred, Blistered, Burnt

Black is the new black. Technomic market research showed a 61% increase in the word ‘burned’ and a 19% rise in ‘smoked.’ And these jumps aren’t merely in the meat category; rather, dishes using blistered vegetables, charred fruits, blackened breads...even smoked ice and salts are top trends.

  • Add smoky complexity by charring chile peppers such as jalapenos and Serranos. The heat develops their inherent sweetness and tames some of the spiciness. Great in salsas, soups, and salad dressings.
  • Balance is important: don’t overload ingredients with ashy notes, rather pair with acidic/bright flavors like yogurt, orange, or vinegar.
  • Burn or char only one side of Brussels sprouts so the smoky notes combine with their grassiness all in one bite.
  • Dip peach or nectarine halves in an herbaceous simple syrup and grill until charred; pair with coconut gelato and edible petals.

Coconut Craze

Coconuts are everywhere. In electrolyte-rich waters, cooking oils, Asian curries, vegan ice creams, house-made granolas, and nut milks...this ingredient is being seen on menus of all genres and in all day parts.

  • Coconut water is more than a work out drink. Try using in smoothies, mixing with fruit juice and sparkling wine for festive beverages, and colorful berries popsicles.
  • This nut oil is said to help stabilize blood sugar levels—substitute it in salad dressings, pancake/waffles batters, and in cookie recipes.
  • Shred and toast for a fiber-heavy ingredient that can lend a tropical accent to creamy custards, green salads, fruit-topped oatmeal, house-made biscuits and crackers, and spicy salsas.
  • Coconut milk or cream can work wonders in soups, purees, curries, sauces, and desserts. A vegan’s dream ingredient, it makes delicious gelati, cakes, and puddings.
  • Mix melted chocolate and coconut oil; dip peeled bananas in this mixture and allow to harden for a crunchy shell.

The Hot List

  • Purple potatoes
  • Black Walnuts
  • Japanese Comfort Foods
  • Clean Salad Dressings
  • Root to Stem
  • Seacuterie
  • Vietnamese-Cajun
  • Non-Alcoholic Drinks
  • Cold Soup
  • Soccas
  • Guajillo Chiles
  • Sophisticated Stadium Food
  • Algae Oil
  • Purple Ingredients
  • Small Potatoes
  • Vertical Agriculture
  • Hybrid Indulgence
  • Naan Pizzas
  • Pastel Interiors
  • Byproduct Ingredients
  • Sorghum
  • Wholistic Sustainability
  • Pandan Desserts
  • Plant Waters
  • Hand-Pulled Noodles

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