It’s the beginning of a new year and the food and restaurant industry is already rife with change. Local food has taken up residence, cookbooks dominate bestseller lists, chefs are the new rock stars and cooking shows are now part of your Thursday night TV regime. And at the base of it all is a generational shift in culinary awareness that had The New York Times referring to as a “gastronomic youthquake.”
With millenials having spent upwards of $90 billion in the past year on food services alone it’s no wonder the industry is starting to take action in adapting to the needs and wants of this new generation of diners, all the while remaining faithful to the values of the older gen.
While 2015 promises to retain some of the charm of old trends such as small plates and comfort food, we can also expect to see some fresh concepts shaped by and for our new generation of gastronomes.
Closing the Generation Gap
While still keeping in mind the baby boomer ideals of authenticity, restaurants are branching out to youths through customizability and using social media to their full advantage, creating foods worthy of an Instagram post, tweet or Snapchat. Since millenials are contributing hugely to the food service industry and baby boomers are already well a part of it, restaurants are seeking to cater to their two main customers by addressing the health and wellness priorities of the older generation and staying relevant and on trend with youth sharing tendencies.
Extreme Makeover (Menu Edition)
The most popular new years resolution to date is slimming down, and this year menus are no different. Buying into the “less is more” philosophy, more restaurants are simplifying and focusing instead on a select few well-executed dishes rather than having an overload of options. Not only will smaller menus allow for more accomplished meals but also shorter wait times resulting in overall better service and a more valued dining experience.
With a Side of Local Love
With a rising interest in everything from free-range chicken to natural pesticides and sustainable food production, locally sourced food is a frontrunner for food trends in the new year. Local farms are feeling the love and artisan breads and cheese are gaining popularity along with house-cured charcuterie, locally brewed craft beers and homemade delicacies like ice cream. Local loyalty is all the rage for 2015 and restaurants are answering in kind.
Foodies are venturing into bold territory, seeking stronger and sharper flavors. Bitter is better and we can expect to see a resurgence of deeper chocolates, hoppier beers and darker coffees, as already evident in the increasing popularity of dark roast debuts. Other shifts on the flavor front include sour sensibilities whether in mustard, vinegar or pickled vegetables, the latter being a top pick for predicted food trends this year.
Food of the Future
Say goodbye to the staples of 2014 and hello to the (sort of) new kids on the block: cauliflower, kimchi, and bone broth. While pickled vegetables are predicted to take the new year by storm, Korean kimchi is one of the top picks for fermented goodness. A traditional dish made most commonly with napa cabbage (though Korea is known to boast more than 200 different kinds), it is made with a variety of seasonings and is best described as at once spicy and sour.
Cauliflower is another big wheeler set to take the stage. As an extremely versatile vegetable we can expect to see it in a multitude of creative forms; baked, fried, mashed or even as a substitute for bread and potatoes.
Last but not least is bone broth, which seems a basic commodity but is already generating buzz and making waves in the beverage sector. Made with bone marrow and spices, it’s the next “it” food for the health conscious and is sure to warm you up as easily as a cup of joe.