On October 1, the fourth annual food and drink trends event aptly titled “The Next Big Bite” took place in New York. Joe Yonan, food and dining editor of The Washington Post, served as the MC, questioning both experts and rising stars on what they predict the upcoming trends will be in 2019.
Here are their predictions:
If there was an overall theme to this year’s event, simplicity would have to take center stage. Panelists focused on the foundations of technique and the use of “real” ingredients. By this, we surmise that brightly colored and artificial looking food will be a thing of the past and fresh vegetables with simply-made proteins will be taking front and center in the coming year. Maybe.
According to Molly Yeh, host of Food Network’s Girl Meet’s Farm, “We are recovering from an age of too muchery.”
I believe this trend has already hit the streets with vegetarian restaurants becoming vogue and products such as The Impossible Burger making headlines. For those of you who missed their incredible marketing campaign, The Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger with all the mouthwatering flavor of your typical hamburger.
Restaurants across the country are currently selling The Impossible Burger with over 1,000 in Illinois alone.
Cooking at Home
With the advent of Blue Apron, Martha Stewart’s Meal Kit, Plated, Hello Fresh (shall I go on?), it’s no wonder that Jacques Pepin, world-renowned chef and author, and Gesine Bullock-Prado, host of Baked in Vermont, and owner of Sugar Glider Kitchen, see cooking at home as an upcoming trend. Not good news for restaurants.
The good news for restaurants: Businesses such as Blue Apron are struggling to turn a profit. With 150 meal-kit companies in the U.S., NPD Group’s Darren Seifer believes that the high cost of customer acquisition and the low retention makes for an expensive business model that is unsustainable. This last year saw Blue Apron shares down by over 75 percent.
Operators are actually taking advantage of this trend by getting in on the meal kit bandwagon. Leanne Valenti, a chef in Austin, sells gourmet Japanese meals in bento boxes. People pick up their high-quality, healthy meals for the week and save time in the process—no cooking!
Molly Yeh and Carla Hall, author of Carla Hall’s Soul Food, see innovation and cooking with real fat such as lard making grounds in 2019. We’re going to ignore that last trend due to the “yuck” factor and concentrate on the innovative food trend shaping up for next year.
Consumers are asking for flavor—and lots of it. Think intense spices such as fennel, fenugreek, nutmeg, and red chili, and you’ve got the idea. It really sounds a lot like this year’s ethnic-inspired global flavors that have been on the rise for some time now. What are restaurants doing to play the “innovative” card?
Today, and probably tomorrow, much of what is considered innovative in the restaurant industry lies beyond the food. Think Punch Bowl’s social gaming that incorporates pinball, ping pong, bowling, and shuffleboard, or Eatsa’s plant-based quinoa menu where food is ordered on tablets and picked up in designated compartments. You can actually order a meal and eat it and never have to talk to anyone. Hmm.
Craft Beer Losing its Fizz
What? Being a craft beer aficionado who spent her share of time in Portland, OR, I was really hoping that I read that wrong. But, alas, no. Lettie Teague, writer and wine columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and Natalka Burian, author of “A Woman’s Drink” claimed this as one of the changes to take place in 2019. I suppose with the rising trends in alcohol and watered-down juice drinks, it was inevitable.
Comfort Food Classics with Unexpected Ingredients
Dorie Greenspan, “On Dessert” columnist for The New York Times, and Christina Tosi, CEO of Milk Bar, foresee dessert as the new mac and cheese with lobster and avocado. Think unexpected ingredients in old classics like sweet ice cream…with olive oil and thyme or shortbread infused with lemons and rosemary.
It seems that, for better or worse, the restaurant industry is in a constant state of transformation. What was once the caterpillar is now the butterfly. What was once mashed potatoes is now sweet potatoes with a dash of maple syrup and thyme.
And, we wouldn’t want it any other way.