With 2016 coming in for a landing, culinary trendwatchers are gazing ahead and offering their two cents on the trends that are ascending in the new year.
First up are the soothsayers at the James Beard Foundation. They ought to know; the foundation hosts hundreds of dinners – prepared by the nation’s top chefs – at its prestigious Beard House in New York City, which gives staffers an enviable up-close-and-personal glimpse at the latest and greatest. Highlights?
Cauliflower is poised to become the next “it” vegetable.
“Maybe it’s the mild flavor that makes for a stellar blank canvas, or its comforting, starchy consistency,” they write. “From whole-roasted versions served in cast-iron skillets at the Florence in Savannah and Shaya in New Orleans to cauliflower “steaks” serving as stand-alone-entrees from a Beard Award–winning cookbook [2013’s “Root to Stalk Cooking” by Tara Duggan, published by Ten Speed Press], we’re devouring the cruciferous veg all over the country.”
When it comes to dessert, sprinkles – yes, sprinkles -- will reign supreme.
“From local bakeries to Pinterest boards, the sweets world is exploding with color,” they wrote. “Cakes filled with the tiny, bright confections are flooding our feeds, homemade versions are featured on menus everywhere, and recipes are shared in major news sources. Put on your sunglasses, because our collective dessert future looks pretty bright.”
Beef will become less of a star and more of a supporting player. “While we’re not seeing beef disappear, we are seeing it less as a main course, and more (and in smaller portions) as a canapé,” they predict. “Vying to take beef’s place? Duck, lamb, venison, pork and more.”
Tataki is ascending. “Combining the tender, unadulterated meat of a tartare and the smoky, seared edges of negimaki, tataki is quickly seared, then thinly sliced, brushed with a bright vinegar, and presented with a host of East-meets-West accompaniments. Never had tataki? Don’t worry, you will soon.”
Oh, and Beard is so over the bowl. “Enough already,” they write. “Burrito bowls, poke bowls, rice bowls, noodle bowls. We get it. Can’t we just get a plate? Or a shovel, perhaps?”
The annual, always-fascinating McCormick Flavor Forecast is confident that egg yolks won't just be for breakfast any more. The spice and flavorings company is also bullish on the merging of Middle Eastern and Western European traditions ("Persian Minestrone," anyone?), cooking on the plancha (flattop) grill and exploring the sweet side of pepper (hello, Pepper and Date Soup). There are recipes, naturally. (Did their predictions for 2016 become a reality? See for yourself here).
Meanwhile, the restaurant consultants at Baum + Whiteman in Brooklyn, N.Y., have weighed in on their annual forecast, handing down 13 prognostications.
(Their 2016 effort included naming “New-ish Jewish” as the cuisine to watch for, heralding turmeric as the Spice of the Year and calling out such key buzzwords as falafel, kombucha and paella. Find their entire 2017 forecast here.)
First up? B+W parts company with Beard on the bowl. In their judgment, it’s still hot, hot, hot.
But they get back on board with the Beard’s agenda when it comes to vegetables.
“You can gauge the growing impact of veg-centric dining when you discover a steakhouse scrapping ‘sides’ and moving vegetables to the middle of the menu,” they wrote.
B+W also lauds the growth of plant-based “meats.”
“It is no secret that Americans are eating less meat (26 percent of consumers said so last year) ... that vegetarian/flexitarian diets going mainstream ... and that vegans increasingly are gaining respect,” the wrote.
Also of note: the growth (by “avant gardists”) of “vegetable ‘butcher shops,” including the Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis (that’s siblings Kale and Aubry Walch, co-owners of the Herbivorous Butcher, in a photo by Ryan Strandjord).
“These ‘butchers’ are fabricating faux food ... imitation but lookalike burgers, sausages, meatballs, salami, turkey, roast beef ... even fake ribs for bbq-obsessed vegans ... with meat cases organized similarly to what you'd find at a good supermarket,” they wrote.
But kale? It’s so last year, and -- thanks to the country’s ramen explosion -- seawood is ramping up.
On the subject of dessert, “oddball” ice creams are going to be all the rage, starting with the “freakshake,” a kitchen sink-style milk shake. Other trends to watch in this genre include boozy malts and savory (avocado, sweet potato, beet, goat cheese) ice cream flavors (they’ve obviously visited Milkjam Creamery and Rustica Cookies & Creamery).
What’s taking a hit, frozen dessert-wise? FroYo. Be on the lookout for “a painful fallout among frozen yogurt shops in the U.S.,” they write. Another segment ripe for reinvention, or at least a market correction? Fast-casual dining.
As for their 2017 buzzwords, Baum + Whiteman is betting the farm on the following: Celery. Horseradish. Cottage cheese (“newfangled, reinvented”). French dip sandwiches. Asian bakeries. And, wouldn't you know it? Cauliflower.