The National Restaurant Associations’ annual What’s Hot culinary forecast predicts food and menu trends for 2018.  The association surveyed over 700 professional chefs to identify the menu trends.

The top 10 Hot trends for 2018 are:

  • Hyper-local – Colleges and universities are growing food on premises to be used in the  foodservice locations.
  • Locally sourced produce – Helping the local farmers and purveyors is a goal of many 2018 diners in restaurants/cafés.
  • Natural ingredients / clean menus – Customers want transparency with ingredients they can identify and name.
  • Chef-driven fast-casual concepts – Chefs are providing fast, convenient and affordable meals that look great!
  • Veggie-centric – The vegetarian customer is looking for more inventive and unique menu offerings that meet their vegetable-forward cuisine palette.
  • Food waste reduction – Cafés are offering smaller portions as an option for customers to choose. Some colleges and universities have student-run clubs that focus on donating surplus prepared food to their local food banks.
  • Environmental sustainability – Diners are wanting more from a foodservice location to help reduce the footprint of the café beyond donating unused food. Consumers want the cafés to do their part in conserving water and energy too.
  • Locally sourced meat and seafood – American diners want to know everything about what they are eating, where it comes from, and how it’s made.
  • Back-to-basics – Chefs are decreasing the number of ingredients to offer more simple, back-to-basics type foods.

Local, vegetable-forward, and ethnic-inspired menu items will reign supreme in the upcoming year. Guests are implementing these trends in their own lifestyles and want to see them reflected on restaurant menus. In response, chefs are creating more items in-house and turning to global flavors, said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of Research at the National Restaurant Association.

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