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National Restaurant Association - What’s Hot? Familiarity, simplicity breed comfort

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What’s Hot? Familiarity, simplicity breed comfort

Consumer trends can be fickle, but when it comes to food, maybe we are more creatures of habit than we realize. Our list of HOT trends for 2018 shows that when it comes to dining out, the more things change, the more they sometimes stay the same.

Steak and ketchup, anyone? For our 2018 What’s Hot survey, we asked 700 American Culinary Federation chefs what they thought would be the most prominent menu trends for the coming year. We discovered that several were similar to ones identified in 2017. Once again, new cuts of meat such as shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas strip and Merlot cut, nabbed the top spot on our list of Top 20 food trends. Why so popular? It’s all related to affordability, flavor and grill-worthiness. Jumping up five spots, house-made condiments hit No. 2. Chefs say they’re simple to make, but seem exotic to guests when they appear on their tables. Falling from No. 2 to No. 3 this year is street-food inspired dishes. These are the go-to meals for adventurous diners. Popular picks include, tempura, kabobs, dumplings and pupusas.

Also making repeat appearances are ethnic-inspired breakfast foods (4), sustainable seafood (5) and healthful kids meals (6)

"Guests are implementing these trends in their own lifestyles and want to see them reflected in the food they eat at restaurants. In response, chefs are creating more items in-house and turning to global flavors to infuse their menus.”

Hudson Riehle, SVP Research,
National Restaurant Association

Fine fast-casual food with a side of local sourcing. Among the Top 10 concept trends, hyper-local sourcing foods grown, picked and processed on the restaurant’s premises will be tops in 2018. Chef-driven fast-casual concepts hit No. 2. Clean menus, food waste reduction, veggie-centric cuisine and environmental sustainability took the third, fourth, fifth and sixth spots, respectively.

Chillin’… off. What’s not so hot anymore? The chefs say meals in mason jars, offal, pumpkin spice and flavored popcorn are “yesterday’s news.” But, perennial favorites include shellfish, barbecue, bacon and comfort foods.

For complete survey results, additional trends to watch, video and downloadable graphics, visit www.restaurant.org/foodtrends.

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