Cole Drake Events Food Trends



As 2015 comes to a close and we prepare to welcome in 2016, we understand the world is changing and new trends will develop. In fact, the culinary world is already experiencing these changes.

According to a survey performed by the National Restaurant Association, more and more chefs are seeing an uptick in Middle Eastern and African flavors, artisanal drinks and ethnic cuisines and condiments. While the aforementioned is growing in desire; kale, quinoa, underutilized fish and gluten free food are in the decline.

Back in September of this year, the NRA issued a survey to 1,575 chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation. Each chef was asked to rate 221 different hot trend items for 2016. Out of the entire list, “African Flavors” topped amongst the chefs, growing by 20%. It was underutilized fish that sunk the farthest at 11%. Considering underutilized fish topped last year’s survey, it truly shows just how volatile the culinary market can be year to year.

The top 20 trends saw a bit of a shakeup. We saw seven newcomers hit the top 20 list; chef-driven fast-casual concepts, ethnic condiments/spices, authentic ethnic cuisine, artisan butchery, fresh sausage, artisan pickles and street food/food trucks.

Non-wheat noodles/pasta, whole grain items in the children’s meal, fruit and vegetables side items and “nutrition” are fell from the top 20, but remained in the top 30 list. They weren’t the only ones. Other top 20 items took even bigger falls. Artisan cheeses fell down to #41, gluten-free cuisine was ranked 45 and non-traditional or underutilized fish fell precipitously to 101st place. In fact, 40% of those chefs surveyed stated it was “yesterday’s news”.

Topping the list of trends to forget, as declared by 71% of chefs surveyed, is insects. Insects topped last year’s list of yesterday’s news, too, despite predictions by several trend watchers at the end of 2014 that they would see a resurgence in 2015. Several companies focusing on cricket flour got new infusions of cash in 2014, and Wayback Burgers, a 100-unit chain based in Cheshire, Conn., introduced a milkshake with cricket in it as a limited offer this past summer. The Mud Pie Cricket Protein Milkshake was made with, Oreo cookie crumbles, Peruvian Chocolate Cricket vanilla ice cream, protein powder, and chocolate and coffee flavors.

Chef Dale Miller, who developed the milk shake, said Wayback franchises were surprised by how well it sold. “It actually sold extremely well”, stated Miller. However, Wayback declined to provide any exact sales data.

The trends to forget list also saw foam/froth air, blood sausage/cake, bacon-flavored/covered chocolate, wedge salads, molecular gastronomy, shrubs, flatbread appetizers, vaporized cocktails and using liquid nitrogen to chill and freeze.

It’s hard to predict what 2016 will bring in the culinary world or what will top the list in 2017. But if the 2015 lists have taught us anything, the palette for taste is a volatile market. What’s in today…could very well be gone tomorrow.

At Cole Drake Events we work with only the best artisanal chefs, providing the best experience for your special day. Not only that, but we strive to keep things authentic for each and every one of the events we are privileged to be part of.

We are a dynamic team of planners in Wine Country with a combined experience of more than 20 years of wedding & event design/production, restaurant and hotel management. We are professed foodies with a penchant for using sarcasm and humor to navigate the planning process. Surrounded by the most inspiring vistas (in our humble opinion), the best cuisine (well known fact) and the most creative people (they are nutty artisans who have more fun than should be legal) we deliver exquisite events and experiences that are keenly focused on alluring your five senses.