What’s Cooking in Restaurants for 2016

Discover the National Restaurant Association’s forecast of 20 hot food trends for next year.

Restaurant Fads

Like fashion, prime-time TV shows, and pop-culture crazes, restaurant fads come and go. Some, like hamburgers, appear to be here to stay. Others, like the foam course or the deconstructed whatever, thankfully disappear in a flash.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) releases a “culinary forecast” for the forthcoming year based on a survey of professional chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation. The chefs are queried on which food, cuisines, beverages, and culinary themes will become hot trends on restaurant menus in the months ahead. The NRA’s What’s Hot in 2016 survey was conducted in the fall of 2015 with nearly 1,600 chefs looking into their sauté pans to see what the future holds. These are their top 20 trends for 2016:

  1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
  2. Chef-driven fast-casual concepts
  3. Locally grown produce
  4. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g., restaurant gardens, onsite beer brewing, house-made items)
  5. Natural ingredients and minimally processed food
  6. Environmental sustainability
  7. Healthful kids’ meals
  8. New cuts of meat (e.g., culotte/sirloin cap, Denver cut, tri-tip, pork T-Bone chop)
  9. Sustainable seafood
  10. House-made or artisan ice cream
  11. Ethnic condiments or spices (e.g., harissa, curry, sriracha, chimichurri)
  12. Authentic ethnic cuisine
  13. Farm- or estate-branded items
  14. Artisan butchery
  15. Ancient grains (e.g., kamut, spelt, amaranth)
  16. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g., Asian-inspired syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut-milk pancakes)
  17. Fresh or house-made sausage
  18. House-made or artisan pickles
  19. Food-waste reduction and management
  20. Street food and food trucks

TELL US: Which trend are you most excited about? Leave a comment below or tweet us @ExperienceLife.

For more restaurant trends, go to www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/News-Research/WhatsHot2016.

Michael Dregni is Experience Life's deputy editor.

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