2018 Food Trends: What’s Hot? And What’s Not?

By | January 24th, 2018

C2C’s Joanna DeChellis breaks down the NRA’s forecasted trends, highlighting where clubs where many are thriving.

Say goodbye to fancy cheese and hello to doughnuts with weird fillings.

Last month, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) released its “What’s Hot” culinary forecast for 2018. This annual list of food trends was created with the help of nearly 700 members of the American Culinary Federation, giving it a shiny, chef-approved sheen.

Here is what the NRA’s crystal ball has to say about 2018:

Move over prime rib and filet mignon. The biggest trend, according to the list, is the rise of new cuts of meat such as shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas Strip steak, and Merlot cut. I find this trend to be particularly on point, as more and more club chefs are finding delicious ways to menu lesser-known cuts and meats.

Also on the list: house-made condiments, street-food-inspired dishes, and ethnic-inspired breakfast items. (Chorizo scrambled eggs, anyone?)

According to the list, hyper-local sourcing will be a “driving concept” in the coming year. But for club chefs, this is old news. You’ve been planting gardens, hosting honeybees and collecting eggs from your own chickens for years now.

Also buzzy are natural and “clean” ingredients, reducing food waste, veggie-centric cuisine, and locally sourced meats and produce.

Food trends cooling down, according to the NRA, include artisan cheeses, heirloom fruits and vegetables, and housemade charcuterie and ice cream. I don’t know that I agree with all of these, though. I see a lot of club chefs coming up with delicious ways to feature heirloom ingredients. And every time I ask chefs about charcuterie, I get a detailed explanation about all the different kinds of sausages, bacons and other meats they’re making.

When I talked to James Satterwhite, Executive Pastry Chef of Charlotte Country Club, for the feature we ran on the club last summer, he told me about how his homemade ice cream is the single-most-popular dessert at CCC, and they always have between 17 and 18 flavors available to members.

Driving interest, per the survey, are doughnuts with nontraditional fillings, ethnic-inspired dishes for kids, heritage-breed meat and Peruvian cuisine. If that last one is right, San Antonio Country Club’s Nelson Millán saw this one coming a year ago when he wrote the blogpost “Peru: A Culinary Paradise.

What’s driving these trends? It’s not chefs, says NRA Senior Vice President of Research Hudson Riehle. “Guests are implementing these trends in their own lifestyles and want to see them reflected on restaurant menus,” Riehle said in the news release.

This means your members are getting even more savvy about food and cuisine. So instead of relying on crystal balls, keep spending time in your dining rooms, talking with your members about what they want to see on your menus in the coming year.

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