Here’s a forward look at hospitality food trends in 2018 and how some hotel restaurants are interpreting them.
You know how kids anticipate the arrival of the Toys R Us and Target holiday gift catalogs? That’s how I feel about the annual international food trends forecasts that come out this time of year.
My two favorites are the Andrew Freeman & Company Hospitality Trend Report and the Baum + Whiteman Hottest Food & Beverage Dining Trends in Restaurants & Hotels report.
Both forecasts Are. All. Over. The. Place. And that’s what I love about them. They veer wildly from talking about the trend of lab-engineered meat to facial-recognition payment scanning in fast-food restaurants.
In other words, these reports are aspirational feasts for the senses that have me equal parts saying, “Yes! I’ve already seen this happening in hotels!” to scratching my head, to looking up words I’ve never heard of before, like “geoduck” and “zhug.” (Hint: Both are food buzzwords for 2018, so get with the program.)
And if you’re wondering where the headline for this blog comes from, you can thank AF&Co., who deem chicken the “Dish of the Year” for 2018.
Chicken notwithstanding, I’ve pulled out four food trends from the reports that have some good hotel F&B applications, along with some examples of how hotels are jumping on board.
1. Plant-based food takes center stage
It’s not at all unusual to find all-vegetarian/vegan hotel restaurants in places like India and Africa, but the trend is poised to jump stateside in 2018. As the AF&Co. report forecasts, “vegetables will be all up in your grill in 2018.”
The trend is about bringing vegetables to the center of the plate and treating them more like meat. Ever hear of plant butchering and veggie charcuterie? You will. It’s a trend that makes sense, as hotel guests and diners embrace wellness in their everyday lives.
Stateside, we see all-veg hotel F&B happening selectively. Check out The Stanford Inn by the Sea on California’s Mendocino coast. Its restaurant, The Ravens, serves vegan menus to rave reviews. They even did a vegan Thanksgiving feast:
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2. Israeli food is hot
The next ethnic food trend going mainstream? Israeli food, which features spices like sumac and za’atar and ingredients like couscous.
But one of the most appealing and widespread Israeli food trends seems to be shakshuka, a glorious one-skillet mashup of poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce that’s popular in Israel, the Middle East and Africa. Popping up on more and more hotel restaurant menus, this ticks several boxes when it comes to food trends: Not only is it delicious, it’s vegetarian AND Instagrammable. Seriously, search “shakshuka” on Instagram or Pinterest and thank me later.
Here it is, straight from the source at The Rothschild Hotel in Tel Aviv, and it’s popping up at hotel restaurants in London, around Europe and even Stateside:
3. Nostalgic desserts make dining out fun
Current proclivities for vegetarian eating and wellness aside, diners still want to have fun when they eat out. According to the 2018 food forecasts, that’s going to mean a continuing fascination with desserts that bring a touch of childhood nostalgia along, but kicked up a notch, like freakshakes, fancy donuts and Fruity Pebbles on everything.
The Lodge at Vail, a RockResort, is launching a full s’mores menu this winter, with different flavors every night of the week, including a salty caramel bacon s’more—yes, you heard that right.
Other hotel restaurants are putting a sophisticated—and sometimes boozy—twist on retro desserts, like Cindy’s Rooftop at The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, which served up a full array of popsicles—both elegant and boozy—this summer:
Pastry Chef Jove Hubbard’s latest dessert creation: an elegant Strawberry Popsicle. Available at dinner. pic.twitter.com/L345yHHENU— Cindy's Chicago (@CindysRooftop) July 23, 2017
4. Eating for wellness … in moderation
A few years ago, restaurants, including ones in hotels, were all about comfort foods—who cares if there’s a recession going on, when we can eat gourmet meatloaf and truffle mashed potatoes all day to make ourselves feel better? Fast forward a few years, and wellness F&B trends are mainstream and not just reserved for health resorts and high-end luxury hotels.
Plant-based eating plays a big role in the wellness trend (see above), but more and more we see restaurants making wellness indulgent, not punishing. Check out this Instagram post from Even Hotels New York Midtown East, where the food is wellness-focused, but there’s still carbs!
The fun part about these forecasts is that they can go in so many directions. On one hand, you hear about the benefits of wellness and plant-focused dining; on the other hand, you have Starbucks unicorn Frappucinos—don’t tell me those colors come from nature. So have fun with it.
This week was just food, people. Don’t be surprised if I tackle drink trends and even F&B payment and design trends in the next couple weeks. Let’s face it—this period between now and the New Year is all about eating and drinking anyway, right?
Are you adopting any of these trends at your hotel restaurant? Comment below, email me at email@example.com or post a pic on Twitter and tag me @HNN_Steph—especially if you’re making shakshuka, my new obsession.
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