F&B pros forecast dining trends for 2017

F&B pros forecast the hottest dining trends for 2017

Pork belly and kale, move over for micro-desserts, cooking on wood, and an emphasis on plants and sustainability. As the new year approaches, we’ve asked some of our favorite chefs (and one talented mixologist) to weigh in with their thoughts on what food and beverage trends will gain traction in 2017 and what trends they’d like to see relegated to the compost bin. Here are their thoughts:

From left to right: Chef David C. Felton, Chef Gustavo Calderon, and Chef Beau

What’s hot?

“The trend I like and think will continue as we head into 2017 is chefs getting back to cooking food on wood. I’ve seen a lot of wood-fired ovens that aren’t your typical pizza-style oven lately, and I love it. I’ve always been a fan of that style of cooking – not only for the aromas, but for the smoky and charred flavors. I look forward to seeing what the industry does with this in 2017.” -Beau MacMillan, executive chef, elements at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa (Scottsdale)
“I anticipate a trend to reducing waste with 100% usage of vegetables – for example, carrot-top pesto. Also vegetables featured at the center of the plate, even when other proteins are a component. I see more food education opportunities, building on the trend of wine and spirits classes. A few others: chicken waffles, street foods such as gourmet tacos in fancy restaurants, and rare fish species like blowfish and wolffish. Lastly, Thai ice cream (frozen-to-order) dessert buffet stations — ice cream is made as a batter, placed on an anti-griddle to freeze, then scraped into a roll, topped and served.” -David Felton, executive chef, Ninety Acres at Natirar (Somerset County, N.J.)
“Bartenders will use more culinary techniques in crafting cocktails (e.g. sous vide infusions, dehydrating ingredients). As a result, more mixologists will be in the kitchen prepping for their creations. 2017 will also take the bar’s ice game to a new level – large ice cubes, ice balls, ice glasses, infused ice, and dry ice. Whiskey will be the new vodka and will no longer be just the man’s drink of choice. Women who usually drink cosmos will start drinking old fashioneds, Manhattans, and other whiskey-based cocktails. Elaborate mocktails will be in high demand and will incorporate sweet and savory syrups, non-alcoholic infusions, etc. And finally, just as cooking classes have been a trend, mixology classes will be in high demand in the new year.” -Christine D’Orta, lead mixologist, Ninety Acres at Natirar (Somerset County, N.J.)
“I think we will continue to see chef-driven restaurants thrive with the increasing emphasis on ever-changing ingredients and use of local products. I believe that we will also see comfort food presented in a more upscale way. I also foresee a lot more plant-based dishes with smaller protein portions.”  -Brandon Schatko, executive chef, KANU at Whiteface Lodge (Lake Placid)
“With the farm-to-table movement expanding, I expect this to be the year of the vegetable. Look for chefs to showcase them in new creative ways and even feature them as entrees. As the collective conscious towards healthy living increases, so will the food and the way we grow, source, and treat it.”
-Darren Sylvin, executive chef, Aloft Boston Seaport

Micro-desserts are sure to take off in 2017. While not inherently satisfying, bite-sized and miniature versions of people’s favorite desserts are both aesthetically appealing and grant them a guilt-free indulgence.” -Richard Doucette, executive chef, Lighthouse Grill at Harbor View Hotel (Martha’s Vineyard)
Breakfast is one of the new trends that definitely we have to watch closely in 2017. This includes brunch – not only because it’s a popular meal but because it’s a great concept for f&b innovators to play with. We should take advantage of the season and region in choosing ingredients. In my case, this means using more Florida citrus, tomatoes, hearts of palm, guava, and so on.” -Gustavo Calderon, executive chef, 3800 Ocean at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa (Riviera Beach, Fla.)
“I see burger bars and tapas-style eateries making their way to the North Country. Bite-sized desserts will also be big this year.”  -Patrick Leibacher, executive chef, Seaway Grille at 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel (Clayton, N.Y.)
“People continue to travel to new destinations, discovering unfamiliar flavors and then looking for these when they get home.  Regional and global flavors will play a key part in menus for 2017.  Another trend you will see in menus is vegetable and grain-focused menus.  People are making healthier decisions when they dine out and are looking for less protein-focused plates.  They want a variety of healthy grains like farro, quinoa, and lentils, along with interesting vegetable combinations.” -Eric Kaszubinski, executive chef, McCoys Oceanfront at Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa


What’s not?

“I would love to see pork belly take a little dip over the next few trend cycles. I’m not asking for the end of bacon but simply a shift in creativity from the “must have” pork belly item on your menu. Although it is an amazing product, it has been slightly overproduced and requested. Look to similar leaner items such as lamb or the already popular tuna and salmon bellies to substitute.” -Darren Sylvin, executive chef, Aloft Boston Seaport
“I am over avocado toast – it needs to go away. We are not in California. As much as it is fun and delicious, I am very ready to say goodbye to it.”-Beau MacMillan, executive chef, elements at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa (Scottsdale)

“Chefs will continue to utilize local ingredients on their menus. This supports our communities and helps reduce the carbon footprint on the environment when buying local. However, every menu item does not need to reflect the farm that the vegetable came from or who you purchased the grits from. I feel the consumer expects us to purchase local as much as possible. Menus should mention the local farms and business you support, but not alongside every menu item.” -Eric Kaszubinski, executive chef, McCoys Oceanfront at Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa

“I would love to see food in the middle of the plate again. Sauce all over the rims and food on the side of the plate upsets me. I also do not like restaurants where all of the plates don’t match. That said, I hope the Asian noodle trend never dies!” -Brandon Schatko, executive chef, KANU at Whiteface Lodge (Lake Placid)
“Definitely kale. Even though I use it in my breakfast, this year has been kale everything. There are many other vegetables with similar benefits without much mess in the kitchen.” -Gustavo Calderon, executive chef, 3800 Ocean at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa (Riviera Beach, Fla.)
“I hope kale and miso disappear from every menu.”-Richard Doucette, executive chef, Lighthouse Grill at Harbor View Hotel (Martha’s Vineyard)
“The use of bacon in so many dishes, including bacon lattice.” -David Felton, executive chef, Ninety Acres at Natirar (Somerset County, N.J.)
Blue cheese stuffed olives.” -Christine D’Orta, lead mixologist, Ninety Acres at Natirar (Somerset County, N.J.)