Meeting Mentor Magazine

September 2023

A Peek at 2017 Food & Beverage Trends

It’s that time of year again when forecasts for hot new trends in food and beverage in the year ahead make their annual appearance. Reviewing the highlights of three just-released forecasts, the big trends that event planners need to keep in mind: vegetables continue to reign in popularity (even in cocktails), spice and flavor ingredients are bigger than ever (even for breakfast), and authentic ethnic food with new twists gets a big thumbs up. Overall, nutrition, sustainability and authenticity (including locally sourced food) will be top of mind.

Here’s a look at 2017 food and drink trend reports from three different companies, starting with Baum + Whiteman, a New York-based food and restaurant consulting firm:

Vegetables rule: Plant-based protein and center-of-the-plate vegetables are “shoving animal protein to the edges or off the plate altogether” as Americans continue to eat less meat. One example: vegetable charcuterie plates, featuring items like smoked carrot, mushroom pate, beet chorizo, cultured cheese and fig compote.

Breakfast gets flavor boost: “Gonzo” ingredients like chimichurri, red onions, jack cheese, horseradish aioli, jalapeños, salsa and avocado are pepping up breakfast options, especially breakfast sandwiches.

Bowls are big: Serving entrees in bowls is going mainstream. “Chefs are finding that assembling a decorous bowl is easier and faster than the complexity of plating upscale entrees because they don’t have to fuss around with all that white space.”

Curry flavors take off: Expect to see lots of flavors used in curries, including turmeric, chilies, tamarind, lemongrass, ginger, coriander/cilantro, cardamom, kaffir lime, cumin and cinnamon. “Not all at once, but a few at a time — the idea is to produce something tasting like curry sauce.”

From Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants’ third annual Culinary & Cocktails Trend Forecast:

Mediterranean surges: Look for more Mediterranean-inspired dishes like creamy sesame hummus with braised chickpeas and Moroccan spiced lamp chops with tomato-cucumber fattoush and lemon yogurt.

Using the whole vegetable: The “root to leaf” movement that embraces using vegetables in their entirety is powering the popularity of dishes like radish greens, carrot-top pesto and celery root purées.

Cocktails with food ingredients: Culinary twists to classic cocktails use unique ingredients like roasted grapes, salt-roasted plantains, smoked tomato water, puréed red pepper, snap peas or corn to create either sweet or savory culinary cocktails.

Beyond wine and cheese: While wine and cheese remain the top food and drink pairing, fresh new combinations like oysters and gin or sherry and fries are emerging as chefs and bartenders collaborate more on tasting menus and small plates.

Sterling-Rice Group, an advertising agency with an expertise in food and beverage, highlights these culinary trends for the coming year:

Mocktail mania: Fresh-pressed juices, flavored teas and muddled herbs and spices are among the favored ingredients for new non-alcoholic drinks.

New vegetarian “meats” take off: No longer are the vegan incarnations limited to seitan and soybean. Chickpeas, corn, peas, legumes and fungi are being utilized to create mock-meat dishes.

Hand-pulled noodles: “Chinese lamian, or hand-pulled noodles, adds another layer of both taste and visual showmanship. Customers slurp their share while watching a master noodle-smith knead, stretch, and swing dough into strands for soup.”

Goats and sardines: Low in calories, fat and cholesterol, “goat is poised to become the next goat-to protein.” Goat, a global favorite for spicy dishes, can be kosher and halal, and is sustainable to raise. High in omega-3s, protein and umami flavor, sardines are set to become the new tuna ahi. “Sardines simply served on crusty toast with lemon, garlic, and aioli make for an uncomplicated yet elegant addition to any snacking situation.” — Regina McGee

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