Time to polish my crystal ball and think about where food is heading in 2017.  Professional trendologists- yes it’s a career path– started months back, looking for threads in breakout snack foods and hot new restaurant concepts to identify what we’ll be craving in the New Year.  Flavor and the Menu Magazine, a foodservice trade publication I’ve written for, started looking at eating patterns back in the fall in preparation for the top 10 trends issue coming out shortly.

Food novelties don’t interest me.   Instead my sights are set on foods and ways of eating that will change and improve our lives. What’s pictured above is from the Kogi BBQ truck in LA,  short rib tacos and kimchee quesadilla. That’s what I am talking about,  a meal that changed my way of thinking about food when I ate it.

Here’s my quick take on what I see coming in 2017

Vive la Patisserie

It’s a new golden age of French food especially French bread and classic French pastries. In my area of Connecticut two delightful French-inspired bakeries opened this past year – The Savour Café in Centerbrook and Sift Bake Shop in Mystic.  And nationally, there is the Tartine Manufactory in San Francisco shining a bright light on flaky pastry and craft bread. I’m hopeful that more people will now taste well-crafted viennoiserie, the formal name for croissants, Danish and other pastries made with buttery flaky dough


Cue Count Basie, tinkling cocktail glasses and muffled laughter. For many of us, the word watercress conjures up 1950’s glamour.  Grilled lamb chops garnished with mint jelly and a hunk of watercress was country club food during the age when gourmet was a mark of true distinction.  But the green itself is sadly missed. Its tender juiciness makes it a fine successor to kale. You can chop it up in salads, blend it with mashed avocado, crush it with garlic and nuts for pesto or whiz it in your smoothie.

There is not a single sign of this refreshing peppery green making a comeback but I am hopeful.

Hot Spice – Turmeric

The Google Food Trends report for 2016 noted a spike in searches for the term turmeric.  This caught the attention of The Packer, trade paper for the produce industry.  And now I can buy fresh turmeric roots at my local grocery store.

Why this trend?  Turmeric is full of health promoting properties. It’s the plant source for curcumin, known to reduce inflammation, help control diabetes and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. And it’s a major ingredient in curry powder. Some call it poor man’s saffron because of its vivid yellow color.  I grate fresh turmeric into salad dressings and soups. I like it brewed into tea along with fresh ginger and a pinch of black pepper. (You need to eat it with black pepper; the health benefits of curcumin are absorbed only when it’s consumed with piperine, a component of black pepper.)

More Better For You

We ate a killer dish at The Taste of China in Clinton, CT last night, Sizzling Beef. Thin strips of crispy spicy cooked beef tossed with lots of vegetables, red pepper, onions and greens.  The ratio of meat to vegetable was about 1 to 8, what you’d expect in a Chinese restaurant. But we’re seeing more of this at all kind of restaurants as chefs and their guests move vegetables front and center. Healthy fast food concepts are sprouting up across the country, many from investors with deep pockets who can afford to test and tweak a concept to get it right.

Here’s three to watch.

Beefsteak, “vegetables unleashed” from José Andres. This vegetable bowl concept – think Chipotle with a garden focus – also offers soups, sandwiches and beefsteak tomato burgers. I admire Chef Andres’ cooking genius and know that if anyone can make raw cauliflower and chick peas craveable, it’s him.

LocoL , “wholesome, delicious and affordable food” from Roy Choi and Daniel Paterson.  These Californians make an unlikely pair, Choi, the Big Pappy of the food truck movement and Patterson, a chef whose talent has earned him two Michelin stars. The food sounds wild and zesty; yotchays are snacks like “messy greens.” And cheap; hamburgs are $4.50.

The Kitchen, from Hugo Matheson, Jen Lewin and Kimbal Musk. This restaurant group was founded with the mission to build community through food. Its latest is the Kitchenettte, reasonably priced, locally-sourced healthy fast food. Musk, brother to Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon, and partners have a dozen restaurants mostly in Colorado but are expanding.  I love their spirit and the teaching gardens they are building at schools across the country.

Kitchen Notebook:

For those of you who can’t get enough of food trends here are some articles I’ve enjoyed reading.

Bloomberg News Food Trends 2017

Smart Brief is put out by American Express.  It offers business insights to all sectors of the economy.  Here are their thoughts on Latin Food Trends in 2017.

Michael Whiteman is a friend, colleague and one of the most knowledgeable restaurant consultants there is.   Here’s his deep-dive into foodservice trends for 2017.