Over the next twelve months, new restaurant concepts will rise, fresh ingredients will excite diners’ palates, and larger philosophies will shift the way restaurants are run. But what will be the biggest food trends of 2018? We asked eight chefs to share their culinary predictions for the year ahead.
Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT, Frederick, Maryland
“Trends are tough to predict these days with the abundance of information out there. What I do believe is that there will be an increase in fruit- and vegetable-based dishes from both fine and casual dining restaurant. Also, with the current political climate and topics of discussion, I see us looking for classic dishes with warm and comforting flavors, food to help us forget the world’s issues, even for a moment. With time also being so very precious, I know we will see a shift to refined cuisine in a more casual setting with a faster-paced experience. Not quick service, but also not a three-hour time commitment.”
Michael Solomonov of Zahav, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“I don’t necessarily see the trend for 2018 being a specific product or technique, instead I’m excited to see chefs continue to return to their heritage for culinary inspiration and to reclaim that heritage through food – paying respect to tradition, either with their own modern twist or with more authentic interpretations.”
Kaytlin Dangaran of Verde, Miami, Florida
“I believe people are becoming much more aware of not only where the food is coming from but also what it is they are consuming. Farm-to-table has taken on a completely new meaning and I feel like we will see this expand in the coming year.”
Michael Voltaggio of ink.well, Los Angeles, California
“I think the biggest trend of 2018 will be the shifting dynamic of food offerings in retail centers. It used to be that restaurants wanted to be near retail spaces because retail drove customers. Now it’s the opposite: retail centers want restaurants nearby because restaurants are driving customers into their stores.”
Trevor Ogden of Bluestem Brasserie, San Francisco, California
“I think that Old World cooking techniques – fermentation, canning, preserving, pit cooking, and the like – will continue to be a focus on chef’s menus. There’s something about bringing cuisine back to its roots that has been overlooked for quite some time. Most chefs you ask have childhood memories of their families cooking, which is a core reason that they got inspired to do what they do. More and more, we will keep digging into our ancestors’ roots to find out how they were able to make delicious food without all of the technology that we have today.”
Michael White of Marea, New York, New York
“More than ever, I think the biggest food trend would be customer service. There are so many restaurants out there, especially in New York, so we all need to differentiate ourselves. In these first few months, when business slows down a little, I think so many restaurants will be focusing more on the customer – what they want and what they need – so they keep coming back.”
Rob Rubba of Hazel, Washington, D.C.
“I believe domestic sourcing and production of Asian ingredients will become more available. Keepwell Vinegar/White Rose Miso are making some amazing misos from sunchokes and sweet potato and some super deep tamari. Wholly Jang, which is based out of Virginia, makes a mean doenjang, ssamjang, and gochujang. It’s really wonderful to see these traditions and techniques applied respectfully with local ingredients.”
Miguel Gomez of Pisco y Nazca, Miami, Florida
“With the cost of owning a restaurant and the recent influx of food hall announcements, I think we will continue to see restaurants sharing spaces and different concepts under one roof. I also feel like food trucks will continue doing the same in a laidback setting with handcrafted beers and cocktails.”
Photo credits: Steve Legato (Michael Solomonov).