Chef Survey Results: Top 10 trends in 2018

by National Restaurant Association

Consumers will look for more healthful, sustainable and simple choices at restaurants, say 700 chefs surveyed for our list of Top 10 concept trends in 2018.

The chefs members of the American Culinary Federation say hyper-local foods, chef-driven fast-casual concepts, clean menus and veggie-centric foods will be among the most desired dining trends next year.

Here are the Top 10 concept trends for 2018:

1. Hyper-local

More restaurants are serving these “foods grown, picked and processed on the premises. Why? Consumers think local equals freshness.

2. Chef-driven fast-casual concepts

Culinary masters are making magic for the masses by serving up great meals that are fast, convenient and affordable.

3. Natural ingredients/clean menus

Customers are eating more simply and healthfully when dining out. They want menu items made with high-quality greens, grains and proteins, among other things. Restaurants who cater to their needs win their loyalty and business.

4. Food waste reduction

Chefs say reducing food waste helps control food costs in the back of the house and protects the environment, too. More restaurants are tracking usage, serving smaller portions and donating prepared items to food banks. Diners also are excited to support these socially and environmentally responsible businesses.

5. Veggie-centric/vegetable-forward cuisine

As more consumers follow vegetarian and vegan diets, restaurants are expanding the complex, inventive veggie-centric items on their menus. Think plant-based burgers and sushi that rival their beef and fish counterparts.

6. Environmental sustainability

Diners say they’re interested in going to restaurants that protect the environment and conserve water and energy. Those practices also help reduce operating and utility costs, so it’s a win for everyone.

7. Locally sourced meat and seafood

American diners increasingly say they want food raised or produced in their own region rather than elsewhere, and restaurant companies are listening. They know consumers, especially millennials, want to know everything about what they eat: where it comes from, how it’s made, even who produced the protein on their plates.

8. Locally sourced produce

Consumers want to know where their food is grown and harvested. It’s about getting the freshest produce possible – and they say they’re willing to pay more for it. They’re also happy to help local farmers and purveyors grow their businesses, too.

9. Simplicity/back to basics

Simply put, back-to-basics cooking and classic dishes are hot. Stripping down recipes to fewer ingredients and rejiggering traditional recipes for today’s tastes are whetting consumers’ appetites.

10. Farm/estate-branded items

These are especially important to consumers who care about a connection to how food is grown and processed. The desire for these quality foods continues to grow in popularity.


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