Ron DeSantis is an American Culinary Federation (ACF) certified master chef, a designation so elusive and rare, only 67 other chefs – and a handful of pastry chefs – can lay claim to it. We asked him to elaborate on the trends he’s seeing in the culinary space.
Looking back at 2017, what evolving trends did you see dominate the food landscape?
Each year, we see a forecast of trends but only a few really grab the dining public. Diners continue their love affair with burgers, however, burgers are being blended with mushroom duxelles, making them juicier and umami-forward. The quality of protein, both animal and plant, is also front-and-center. Street foods continue to engage food lovers, both authentic street foods and mash-up style (think Indian-Latin tacos).
Sustainable seafood is on menus and will continue to be important both for variety and to help decimated fish species recover.
Plants became the center of attraction for everyone. This trend reminded everyone that menus need balance and that plant-based foods should not be an afterthought. Clean labeling is one of the most important trends to emerge in 2017. This will continue to drive decisions into and beyond 2018.
Looking back at 2017, what ingredients did you see gain popularity with consumers?
Fresh ingredients are at the top of the list. From farmer’s markets to community-supported agriculture to home-grown, consumers want fresh ingredients along with knowledge of where the food is from. Vegetables – including emerging vegetables such as jackfruit – got recognition in 2017.
Turmeric, due to its healthy halo, gained traction.
Buffalo seasoning was finding its way onto everything, including cucumbers.
Conversely, did you notice any trends or ingredients lose momentum in 2017?
Ancient grains, savory desserts, insects and acai never lived up to expectations.
Looking ahead to 2018, do you anticipate any interesting themes or trending ingredients in the food landscape?
Middle Eastern cuisines and ingredients will be incorporated into menus. These ancient cultures have centuries of foods that will intrigue and excite diners. Chefs will make and use more fermented foods – sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and indulgent yogurt – in the coming year. We will also see meat equivalents gain popularity due to the media’s interest in the non-meat “burgers” being launched.
How do you plan on incorporating these trending ingredients and themes into your cooking?
Vegetables were the star of the media, but people were still loving burgers, barbecued pork, chicken legs and other highly-flavored meats. My focus will be on creating co-starring opportunities with meats and vegetables.