Black pepper ice cream, coconut ceviche and Japanese whisky highballs are just a few of the trends predicted to be popular in 2020 with US diners. More health ingredients and plant-based menus will rise to the top, and lower-alcohol spritzes will take centre stage at bars.
From ingredients like seaweed, ashwagandha and nutritional yeast to dishes like fresh, elevated ceviche and flavourful Levantine cuisine, chefs are getting creative while catering to consumers’ changing dietary and lifestyle preferences.
Food and drink trends 2020 research has been released recently by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants’ in their sixth annual Culinary & Cocktails Trend Forecast. Scott Gingerich, Kimpton’s Senior Vice President of Restaurants & Bars told us: “Diners continue to be more educated, mindful and globally connected than ever before. We polled our talented experts around the world to get their insights on how consumer dining habits and dietary preferences will shape restaurants and bars in the year ahead.”
“This forecast has been able to pinpoint cult classics à la last year’s Aperol Frosé and predict the next big thing in flavours and ingredients like black garlic, s’chug and nutritional yeast for 2020.”
Each year, the Kimpton Culinary + Cocktail Trend Forecast reveals the most anticipated and innovative dishes, flavours, ingredients and philosophies that chefs and bartenders will explore in the year ahead.
Trends are uncovered through a survey of more than 130 chefs, sommeliers, general managers and bartenders from 75+ Kimpton restaurants and bars. As one of the largest operators of multi-concept restaurants and bars, Kimpton leverages decades of experience and deep industry knowledge across the globe to forecast these trends. Kimpton restaurants and bars incorporate many of these predictions into dishes and drinks on their menus.
- Alternative Diets Become Mainstream
Diets once considered alternative are now the norm, so expect to see gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan and keto options become menu mainstays. According to 31% of chefs surveyed, it’s no longer enough to have just one or two of these options on the menu.
We’ll see more gluten-free options in traditionally carb-centric dishes like pasta and breads, using almond flour, rice flour, guargum or tapioca. From gluten-free cauliflower schnitzel to gluten-free calamari, chefs will continue to give more and more menu items a wheat-free makeover.
Oat and hemp milks will continue to dominate menus in 2020, alongside nut-based, dairy-free cheeses. Think creamy cashew cheese alfredo sauces, plant-based burgers topped with vegan cheese, oat milk honey lavender lattes and vegan breakfast quesadillas filled with nut-based cheese, veggies and tofu.
- Not-So-Obscure Health Ingredients
Health ingredients are moving into the spotlight – alternative milks, plant-based ingredients and superfoods are now commonplace compared to still up-and-coming items like nutritional yeast, ashwagandha, collagen peptides and seaweed.
As an evolution of last year’s trend, fermented foods with gut-healthy probiotics are continuing to grow in popularity with tempeh, pickled vegetables, infused vinegars and fermented dairy products popping up on more menus across the globe.
- Plant-Based Everything + Sneaking Vegetables into Every Dish
Just over 50% of respondents predict plant-based meat alternatives will solidify their mainstream status in 2020 (no longer just a cult following) and we’ll see more plant-based takes on traditional meat dishes. In fact, 30% of chefs predicted vegetable tartare will be infiltrating restaurant menus in in the New Year.
Hiding healthy ingredients is not just for kids anymore – chefs will also be “sneaking” more vegetables into pasta, pizza, breads and sauces and even creating full-vegetable burgers, jerky and chips, made from ingredients like mushrooms, eggplant, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach or cauliflower.
- Love for Levantine Cuisine
Levantine cuisine, including Israeli, Turkish and Lebanese, is predicted as the most influential style for menus in 2020, according to nearly 40% of chefs surveyed.
S’chug, a Mediterranean hot sauce, and muhammara, a red pepper and walnut spread found in Turkish and Levantine dishes, topped the list for spreads and sauces in this year’s forecast.
- Cross-Cultural Fusions
Local, responsibly sourced ingredients that bridge traditional culinary lines and blur the fusion moniker will continue to grow in 2020.
Dishes that bridge culinary regions will be among the most popular trends, with more than half of chefs incorporating cross-cultural fusion dishes onto menus. Some of the tastiest mashups include Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisine, French with Scandinavian flavours, Cantonese Chinese and Peruvian (or Chifa) and American South with Japanese.
Expect to see regional and indigenous-inspired cuisine, including more Native American, Scandinavian, Peruvian and Russian influences. Peruvian dishes include creative takes on Sudado de Mahi and Tiradito de Salmon, as well as Chocolate Aji Panca ice cream.
- Funky Flavours + Sweet on Sour
Ingredients with sour flavour profiles like rhubarb, tamarind and vinegar will grow in popularity, with nearly 23% of chefs selecting sour as their favourite experimental flavour.
Chefs also noted that funky flavours will make their way into breakfast staples, including liquorice and salty syrups and savoury oatmeal made with bone broth.
Diners can also expect to spot more exotic peppers like Gochujang, piri piri, espelette and Hatch chile peppers in their dishes, with 1 in 5 chefs selecting them as their top ingredient for 2020. Gochujang aioli pairs well with steak tartare and crab and espelette pepper packs a powerful flavour punch to pimento and blue crab cheese dip.
- Now Trending: Dishes, Spices + Ingredients
Elevated ceviche using unexpected ingredients – from spicy tomato granita to pickled carrot to whipped avocado – was the top dish prediction for nearly one third of respondents.
Unusual seeds like lotus, basil and water lily seeds are predicted as one of the trendiest ingredients according to 31% of chefs surveyed.
Makrut lime leaves, pandan and black garlic, which offers a sweet, earthy flavour and a date-like consistency, emerged as top ingredients on this year’s forecast.
Schmaltz, or rendered chicken or goose fat, will also be trending in 2020, according to a quarter of Kimpton chefs. Keep an eye out for Schmaltz croutons accompanying roasted chicken dishes, and schmaltz as the new olive oil for dipping baked bread.
- Restaurants with a Purpose
Local collaborations will be king in 2020 – partnerships with local artists, distillers, farmers, purveyors, community members and more will be important to diners and restaurants alike.
The social trends predicted as the most impactful on restaurant philosophies in 2020 include transparency across ingredients, sourcing and production, and policies to reduce restaurants’ environmental footprints.
Sustainability will also continue to take centre stage; restaurant and bar managers, chefs and bartenders are crazy about composting, incorporating zero-waste techniques and eliminating single use plastic items.
- Dessert Trends
“Grown up sundaes” using locally sourced, often unexpected ingredients will be one of the top dessert trends, according to 1 in 5 chefs.
Veganism will influence dessert menus as well, as a majority (47%) of respondents highlighted vegan desserts as the strongest sweet-tooth trend for 2020. Try it in lemon tarts made with cashews, coconut, and lemon zest or vegan chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.
Savoury items will be featured more prominently in desserts – expect to see unique savoury meets sweet pairings like black pepper or sesame ice cream and truffle macarons.
- Cocktail Trends
Grilled, roasted and fire-blasted fruits, as well as tea-infused spirits and syrups, rose to the top of the trending ingredients, with bitter vermouths and wine as cocktail ingredients as runner ups.
Aromatic (inedible) garnishes were cited as one of the up-and-coming trends bartenders are most excited to experiment with in 2020. Examples include spice sachets with cloves and allspice, burning sticks of wood, or even absorbent, scented squares of paper clipped to glassware.
- Culinary-Crafted Cocktails
Kimpton bartenders predict that bars will continue to leverage culinary techniques in cocktail prep. The industry will see more bartenders learning from chefs (and vice versa) as bar and kitchen collaboration only increases.
For example, bar leaders will request kitchen time and the use of kitchen equipment to impart culinary flavours into their drinks, to more efficiently prep and store ingredients for the bar.
- Spritzes Will Reign Supreme
Influences from Mediterranean regions will shape bar menus according to the majority (46%) of respondents – we’ll see light, refreshing, often low-alcohol spritzes all over bar menus in 2020. These lower sugar, crisper cocktails are the next evolution of the Spanish Gin & Tonic, which took over bars a few years ago.
Spritz culture will also affect coffee programs, according to nearly a third of respondents. Drinks like the Espresso Tonic will be requested all year round.
- Liquor Trends
Expect to see the rise of alternative-grain spirits like Baiju, Shōchū, and Soju, spirits that originated in China, Japan and Korea, respectively.
Mezcal will continue to dominate in 2020, with more than a third of respondents choosing it as the predicted spirit of choice next year. Bartenders are having fun with the smoky spirit and using it to reimagine traditional cocktails in an unexpected way. For example, one Kimpton bartender pairs mezcal with rum, macadamia orgeat, La Colombe espresso and caramelized pineapple for a smoky, sweet, rich cocktail.
- Whisky Highballs
Whisky highballs – a trend largely driven by the popularity of lighter Japanese whiskies – are predicted to gain a cult following next year, followed closely by spiked seltzers and the return of the Paloma.
- Beer + Wine Trends
More than a quarter of bartenders are most excited about sour beers in the year ahead, followed by hazy or juicy IPAs and high alcohol kombuchas as a beer alternative.
Next year’s biggest wine trend will be the emergence of more natural wines, or wines farmed organically without adding or removing anything in the cellar. Orange wines and Pét-Nat sparkling wines are also becoming more popular with wine aficionados.
Just as spirit enthusiasts are adding hard seltzers to their coolers, wine connoisseurs are seeking out unadulterated wines that are naturally low in alcohol, like Vinho Verde or Txakoli.
- Non-alcoholic Beverage Trends
Many experts are predicting coffee spritzes as the hot (cold) drink of 2020. The other top coffee trends for 2020 include nitro coffee on tap, cold brew alternatives and CBD coffee.
Botanical infused sparkling drinks is cited as the non-alcoholic trend bartenders will most likely experiment with, followed up by alcohol-free spirits and up-levelled teas with exotic fruit flavours like guanabana, lulo and passionfruit.
The majority (42%) of bartenders surveyed are excited to embrace the no-alcohol culture as part of their overall bar experience in the year ahead.