Chefs Tip You Off to the Top Trends of 2016

Professional chefs predict the foods and trends that will be hot in 2016 for an annual “What’s Hot” forecast. (It could be a big year for sausage.)

To find out what restaurant food trends to expect in the coming year, you could do worse than to ask the people who will be preparing those foods and setting those trends.

For its annual “What’s Hot” culinary forecast for 2016, the National Restaurant Association surveyed 1,600 professional chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation about the “food, cuisines, beverages and culinary themes” they predict we’ll be seeing a lot of next year.

The top five trends for 2016 include natural ingredients and foods that are “minimally processed,” foods that are sourced hyperlocally, produce that has been locally grown, “chef-driven” fast-casual eateries and — in the No. 1 spot — locally sourced meats and seafood. You can also look forward to seeing menus featuring environmentally sustainable ingredients, healthier kids’ meals, cuts of meat that are new and different, artisanal and housemade ice cream, and more “ethnic” spices, condiments and seasonings.

Restaurant Business, a publication covering the commercial food service industry, has flagged the trend predictions on the association’s “What’s Hot” forecast that it finds most “startling.” Among the items on its list: a greater emphasis on the origin and backstory of menu items and ingredients, the rise of breakfast items inspired by ethnic foods and flavors, and a growing interest in fresh and housemade sausage.

“In light of the World Health Organization's claim that processed meats are carcinogenic,” Restaurant Business Online suggests, “sausages that are made in house versus processed have added appeal.”

And you thought no one wanted to know how the sausage was made.

Photo courtesy of iStock

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