Just as styles evolve in fashion, music, and home decor, cuisine follows trends that come and go through the years. To keep up with the latest and provide a look to the future, the National Restaurant Association surveyed nearly 700 professional chefs—members of the American Culinary Federation—on food, beverage, and culinary themes.
Trends include focusing on healthful, sustainable, simple dining, vegetable-centered menus, locally-sourced foods, and a global outlook. Craft cocktails, locally produced spirits, wine, and beer continue to dominate the beverage market. House-made condiments, fermented products, ethnic spices, and savory breakfast items also look to be in vogue throughout the year. Flavors from the cuisines of the Middle East, Peru, the Philippines, the Caribbean, Asia, and North African food will be in the mix.
“Chef-driven” was a prominent phrase in the predictions, so we provide here the visions of a distinguished international group. Head chefs and pastry chefs representing The Dorchester Collection, with luxury five-star properties around the world, shared their thoughts on dining trends for 2018.
Executive Chef Fabio Ciervo, of Rome’s Hotel Eden, sees healthy cuisine as his focus, and he will be working on recipes for lighter desserts. His cooking philosophy is based on innovation, wellness, ingredients, taste, and art, with inspiration from all cultures. His La Terrazza was recently awarded a Michelin star.
The Dorchester London’s executive chef, Henry Brosi, agrees. “The focus on wellness shows no signs of abating yet, and we’re seeing a greater understanding from our guests with regard to the inclusion of natural powders such as matcha, maca root, cacao and ground turmeric for their anti-oxidant benefits," he said. Brosi also anticipates greater use of fungi, algae, and seaweed for their anti-oxidant, anti-viral, and probiotic properties.
Executive Chef Adam Smith, of the Coworth Park Hotel in Ascot, about an hour from London, said: “There is an increase in interest around plant and vegetable-based dishes, especially in Michelin-starred restaurants. I am particularly interested in using the great local produce on our doorstep.” Alessandro Buffolino, head chef of Milan’s Hotel Principe di Savola, expects to see more restaurants offering options like vegan cheese, meatless entrees, or vegan frozen desserts.
New Dining Concepts
At the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, executive chef Hugo Bolanos says, “2018 looks to be the year of tasting menus and intimate experiences in any style cuisine.” He sees even more focus on carefully curated cocktails as well. At Ciervo’s La Terrazza in Rome, the Chef’s Table offers intimate dining for up to eight guests.
According to executive chef Guillaume Katola at the London Dorchester, “the overall dining experience is becoming more important. At The Grill, we still use the traditional carving trolley tableside for our meat and fish to preserve that theatrical service.” David McIntyre, Executive Chef at CUT of London’s 45 Park Lane, says, “We’ve been noticing a trend for novel dining concepts and pop-ups, which we will be incorporating into our calendar of events throughout 2018 following the success of our Spago pop-up in 2017."
Chef Buffolino at Acanto in Milan expects an increase in sweet and spicy flavors making unexpected appearances in food as well as usage of new “flavor injectors” to boost flavors. CUT’s McIntyre has introduced a new sushi box in response to the popularity of Japanese flavors in London.
Chef Smith of Coworth Park sees a rise in the use of Asian techniques such as fermentation, pickling, and the use of soy to enhance flavors rather than adding salt. He described his marinated mackerel with seaweed, radish, and avocado marinated in miso soy and lime, which he says gives a natural balanced flavor to the fish.
“Painted cakes are trending at the moment and will become even more popular in 2018," according to Hotel Bel-Air’s executive pastry chef, Tiffany Pascua.
Chef Katola added that he believes there will be a continuation of the social media trend—creating dishes that appeal to the online audience and using seasonal ingredients in fun and novel ways that picture well—such as his summery gin and tonic soufflé.