Keeping track of food trends can be tricky. Today’s favourite dish might become a thing of the past within months. According to Chef Christopher Koetke, Kendall College Vice President of Culinary and host of the Live Well Network’s Let’s Dish, here are the top six trends to look out for, and the best part open an exciting avenue for the franchise-minded:
#1 Pucker Up
Sour is in and umami is out! Koetke sees a rise in sour flavours, especially in pickling and fermenting. Sauerkraut might become a big flavour of 2015. The other upcoming mouth puckering tastes are kimchi, tamarind which is a pod like fruit and the Mexican dip chamoy.
#2 Healthy Mashups
A wave of hybrid fruit and vegetable mixes are on the rise. Brussel Kale was just the beginning of the mashups. Koetke feels the beauty of the mashups lie in the fact that they are designed not only for innovation but also for health. The industry will continue to cross breed vegetables to increase their health benefits and for superior tastes.
#3 Ramen 2.0
Ramen has moved beyond its ‘easy dorm food’ image. Many ramen shops are rapidly conquering American cities like the Ivan Ramen in New York City and Ken Ken Ramen in San Francisco. Although there is a proliferation of traditional ramen shops, new types of ramen tastes inspired by Asian cuisines and flavours are coming up. Some of these are the non-wheat noodles like soba, cellophane and rice noodles. Ramen is also being quickly picked up the fast-casual restaurants as it is inexpensive and can be prepared quickly.
#4 Beyond olive oil
More and more restaurants are experimenting with oils other than olive oil. This is because Americans are looking for healthier fats and have moved away from low fat diets. Oils made of vegetables, nuts and seeds like avocado, pumpkin seed, coconut and mustard are becoming popular. In fact Koetke expects that new recipes would suggest using coconut oil as a butter substitute or mustard oil for a unique flavor.
#5 Butter is Back
Americans seem to be slowly rejecting the idea that all fat is bad. As the use of butter is increasing, so is the emphasis on high quality butter and butters of different tastes and flavours. Many restaurants and culinary schools like the Culinary School at Kendall College have started sourcing butter from local farmers.
#6 Food goes to the extremes
The food trends seem to be focused on the extremes. For instance, in 2014, the biggest success stories in the fast food business revolved around Chipotle and Taco Bell. While Chipotle was positioned as a fresh, healthy and sustainable food brand, the famous Waffle Taco has been just the opposite – indulgent and calorie-rich. The National Restaurant Association’s top two trends of the year also seemed just as diametrically opposite with ethnic fusion at one end and authenticity at the other. Molecular gastronomy and the farm-to-table movement are growing at the same time.
In short, with the food industry daring to experiment more and the chefs willing to push their culinary concepts and ideas to the limits, 2015 opens up a multitude of innovative food possibilities, and room for franchising too.