We all know that 2018 is the year that aspics are going to make a comeback, right? All the cool kids will be blending gelatin with various fruits, veg, meats, and mayos. Banana garnish will be all the rage and Vienna sausages straight from the can will rain down on us all. Naturally, our many jellied delights will be rainbow colored, and gold leaf will festoon them.
Okay, this probably isn’t true. Our horrific fascination with these mid-century molded salads aside, we can’t think of any reason why people would want to bring them back. Certainly not the flavor. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t have mad food opinions that actually are on the money. In fact, just last week we published a fab list of food trends that should shine and die in the year to come, and damned if we don’t want the call for more soup dumplings to come true.
But, as awesome as we believe ourselves to be as culinarians, we’re writers first. For the most accurate insight on food trends, you have to go to the people kicking ass in the industry. These are the kitchen stars who are not only making predictions, they’re also instrumental in bringing them to fruition. We spoke to 17 chefs about their predictions for the new year, and surprisingly there wasn’t much repetition.
Overall, it’s likely you will see more vegetable-oriented dishes, a deeper use of Mexican flavors, and a further increase in fast casual establishments. Sounds good to us.
Hari Nayak — Chef and Culinary Director, Cafe Spice (Nationwide)
“Coconut is the new quinoa. This superfood has been on trend since 2016, and it is becoming more popular than ever among healthy eaters. There is an awareness of the importance of consuming healthy fats in your diet today with foods like avocado and nut butters. Coconut is becoming a dietary staple along with the other superfoods. It’s high in protein, fiber, Vitamin-C, and minerals while being paleo friendly and gluten-free. It is known to boost the production of good cholesterol, improve brain function, and protect hair and skin from damage. Coconuts are extremely versatile, and chefs have realized that they can use almost all parts of it to make healthy essential kitchen ingredients from coconut oil, milk, fruit, butter, sugar and syrups – the list goes on.”
Andy Little — Chef, Josephine (Nashville, TN)
“I think 2018 will be the year when more and more chefs focus on vegetables as center-of-the-plate items (which has been the trend for a couple of years). But most importantly, 2018 will be the year when more and more of the dining public will embrace majority vegetable preparations with either meat/fish as a garnish, sauce, or not at all. This will also be the year when the dining public starts asking for creative ways of preparing vegetables using techniques that previously have been reserved for meats and fish (i.e. smoking, curing, etc.). The thing I’m most excited about exploring this year is looking back at how vegetables, grains, and fruits were prepared for extended shelf life by the Pennsylvania Dutch, which is the region where I grew up and what inspires my menus at Josephine.”
Reinventing Classical Recipes
Garrett Pittler — Executive Chef, City Winery Nashville (Nashville, TN)
“I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and I think that 2018 is the year of reinventing classic recipes. The last couple of years has been all about revisiting comfort food, and I think there’s going to be a revisit this year to classic dishes. I’m seeing more of a focus on newer versions of dishes you grew up with, whether it’s a spin on beef bourguignon or an updated take on bucatini all amatriciana. Taking classical dishes and making them your own. Food trends are a lot like fashion trends (they’re largely cyclical), and at the end of the day, a chef stays relevant by looking back on what’s been done and finding a way to make it new or exciting for the diner.”