Food is like fashion — trends develop, take hold, and in certain cases, go out of style. Restaurant operators know they must adjust their menus to keep up with trends or risk losing business to the competition. Watch for the following food trends to emerge in 2017:
- Vegetable-heavy comfort food. Consumers will continue to look for vegetarian versions of comfort foods such as stews and pot pies. They are interested in foods made with healthier ingredients, for example, Shepherd’s pie prepared with mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes and noodle dishes made with spiralized vegetables rather than pasta. Statistics from Pinterest confirm that vegetarian versions of old favorites rank among top food trends: Last year, the number of searches pertaining to vegetable dishes rose by 336 percent.
- Bowled entrees. Entrees served in bowls are becoming popular among busy consumers who opt for takeout, realizing that with all the contents in one bowl, they are less messy, especially to eat on the go. For table service, bdo yowled entrees will also occupy a high rank on the list of emerging food trends because they are easier for restaurant staff to assemble than their traditional plated counterparts.
- Butcher-to-table dining. Expect to see more artisanal butcher shops that double as restaurants. At these establishments, customers can select meat and have it cooked and served right on the premises. Establishments with a butcher-to-table twist will offer many different, untraditional items — like grilled organ meats and fried pig tails.
- Breakfast with a different texture. Consumers will shy away from traditional, smooth-textured, soothing breakfast options, such as soft scrambled eggs, buttered grits, and oatmeal. In what may be the most different of food trends for 2017, these favorites will increasingly be replaced by “aggressive” morning options with a crunchier texture — for example, fried chicken, crispy chorizo, and chimichurri. Some observers believe smaller chains and independent restaurants that serve breakfast round-the-clock will market such items as hangover cures.
- Healthy kids’ meals. Burgers, fries, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and other traditional kids’ favorites will always have a place on restaurant menus. However, salads, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein cooked without frying will appear on the kids’ bill of fare with increased frequency as more parents seek healthier options for their children when dining out.
- Street-food-influenced dishes. Versions of food served on the street in locations around the world — think dumplings, meats-on-a-stick, and specialty sandwiches — will be added to restaurant menus and take their place among growing food trends. Chefs are creating their own interpretations of street fare as a way to differentiate themselves from the pack.
- House-made condiments. From special sriracha to ketchup to mayonnaise prepared from scratch, consumers are clamoring ever louder for house-made condiments. Chefs will continue to answer the call.
These trends are could make 2017 one of the most interesting — and flavorful — years in the industry. Pay special attention to food trends and the demands of your specific market to adapt your menu in ways that always serve what your customers crave.