CHICAGO—Comfort food and innovation are pairing up on this year’s list of what’s hot in trends and creations coming to diners from restaurant kitchens. The annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast, released by the National Restaurant Association, offers a detailed look at the topics, trends, and products—from the ordinary to the surprising—rated sizzling hot by chefs working in kitchens across the country.
Diners will see many more alternatives in restaurants this year, as owners and operators adopt eco-friendly packaging, plant-based proteins, revamped classic cocktails, specialty burger blends (mushroom-beef burgers, etc.), and unique beef and pork cuts, which all made the list of top 10 trends.
“These trends reflect Americans’ desires to combine the tried and true with the new and different,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of Research for the Association. “This mix of comfort and edginess is a microcosm of the world we live in. Consumers want something different but want to keep what satisfies them at the same time, and more than 1 million restaurants around the country are ready to meet those wants and needs.”
Sustainability Practices Becoming More Important
For the first time, the What’s Hot Report also looked at off-premises trends as restaurants and third party delivery services respond to the rising consumer preference for delivery. Eco-friendly packaging was the overwhelming leader in the category, reflecting the increased importance restaurant operators are putting on sustainability practices.
Healthy is also hot this year. According to the survey, healthy bowls will sizzle on more menus, and healthy kid’s meals continue to be top-of-mind for parents and chefs alike. And, while CBD-infused foods led the 2019 survey, they slipped out of the top ten this year. CBD snacks and sweets appeared in the dessert category and CBD-infused foods and beverages are in the top five culinary innovations.
The What’s Hot survey was conducted in November-December 2019. More than 600 American Culinary Federation chefs rated 133 individual trends in 12 categories, identified in partnership with Technomic, Inc. Download the full report here.