It’s time to dust off the good old culinary crystal ball in hopes it gives me 20/20 vision and reveals a few notable food trends for the new year. Obviously, I have no guarantee if my selections are correct, but have high hopes I’ll be proven right over the next 12 months. Looking back on my trend predictions from 2019, I have to say “burger fatigue” certainly made room for chicken sandwich wars and I anticipate we will see the chicken sandwich obsession continue in 2020. Additionally, self-ordering kiosks, harissa, and weed cuisine will also continue to gain in popularity in the coming year, but to be truly on trend be sure to make a little room in your diet for Filipino Halo Halo, manage stress with herbs, and cook a chicken on a spit. While you’re at it, help prove me right by ordering a sourdough donut, snagging tinned fish, or using oat milk with your next bowl of cereal!
YANGNYEOM DAK SANDWICHES: Look for ultra-crispy, supremely sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken to be the next entrant into the chicken sandwich wars. Yangnyeom Dak is fried in a breading made with cornstarch before being glazed with a mixture of Korean chili paste called Gojuchang, sugar, and lemon juice. The crunchy, spicy, sweet and tangy chicken needs nothing more than a smattering of toasted sesame seeds and a soft bun to finish the dish, but look for creative cooks to add pickled cucumbers and kimchi slaws to the sandwiches.
ALTERNATIVE MILK MANIA: As cravings for plant-based proteins increase look for almond and rice milk to remain popular in 2020, but make room for sesame, oat, hemp, pecan and hazelnut milks to fill your glass with increasing frequency in the new year. Oat milk is sure to make a particularly big jump in popularity as it is more similar to cow’s milk in nutritional content and prized for its creamy texture and slightly sweet flavor profile. Pour some oat milk in your next cup of joe!
SEAFOOD CONSERVAS: A can opener is bound to be the key to unlocking gourmet flavor in 2020. According to David Hammond “canned sardines are poised to reach new levels of popularity” thanks to the emerging love of conservas in the United States. Imported from Portugal or Spain, these preserved fish and seafood concoctions are a far cry from the canned tuna you’ll find on grocery store shelves. High-quality, hand-packed fish (like sardines or anchovies) and seafood (think octopus or mussels) is seasoned with assorted spices and doused in best quality olive oil before being sealed in a tin or jar. Gourmet canned items are best served in the Spanish style with toasts or chips and little else.
TULSI TEA: Speaking of stress, most folks are looking for ways curb the fatiguing effects of pressure and tension in their daily lives. Enter tulsi or holy basil. Unlike sweet Italian basil, holy basil is native to south east Asia and widely regarded as a treatment for bronchitis and everything from eye infections to an upset stomach. The leaves are also high in vitamins A and C as well as calcium and iron. Adaptogens like holy basil also help the human body ward off stress and anxiety. The punchy clove and pepper flavored leaves can be steeped into teas to help support healthy stress levels and cultivate a calming effect during hectic times. The dried leaves can also be baked into shortbread cookies.
USE PLASTICS-LOSE PATRONS: As eco-friendly restaurant practices continue to gain in popularity, we should expect to see business decline in establishments failing to keep up with this trend. If restaurateurs choose to continue using plastic over paper straws, patrons will likely take their business elsewhere in 2020. In fact, we should expect to see restaurants who are embracing the environmental movement to go even further in 2020 by experimenting with edible straws and cups designed to disappear after usage.
COMFORT FOOD: 2020 is bound to make people eat their feelings. Nutritionists wouldn’t recommend the practice, but I predict an upswing in the appeal of comfort foods in the new year. Sure you could order or cook healthier versions of comfort foods to make you feel better about your food choices, but this politically divided climate has people stressed out to the point where mac n’ cheese, chicken pot pie, pizza and grilled cheese will help to make folks feel comfortable in a volatile world.
SOURDOUGH EVERYTHING: Naturally leavened sourdough is rising in the ranks once again and will force us to think beyond the quintessential round loaves of bread lining bakery shelves. Pulling wild yeast from the air for breads was the norm prior to the introduction of the first commercial dried yeast in the late 1850’s. Everything old is new again and, despite an overall decline in bread consumption, sourdough loaves are gaining in popularity once again. Thanks to artisan bakers these low-glycemic loaves are prized for their careful craftsmanship and signature tang. Look for bakers to bring us sourdough bagels, donuts, cakes, and even cookies in 2020.
FILIPINIO HALO HALO: Filipino fare has been rising in popularity for a few years, but the trend is about to get very dessert specific. This shaved ice sundae bar’s name translates to “mixed-mixed” and is often served buffet style. Garnishes for this colorful, cold dessert feature evaporated milk, tapioca jellies and pearls, jackfruit, shredded coconut, toasted rice, and banana among other things. Local catering company, Pig and Fire, serves up a memorable halo halo display at their special Kamayan dinners.
HEARTH COOKING: Look for chefs to turn away from foams, froths and sous vide machines in favor of hearth cooking in 2020. Differing from smoking or grilling where lids and doors help trap smoke and heat, hearth cooking relies on open, air-fed flames to cook meats, vegetables and even desserts. The unpretentious cooking method has historical roots and is rising in popularity. Unlike grills or smokers, hearth cooked fare requires skilled cooks to use spits, mesh grates and even pulleys to control cooking times and fire temperatures. The old school cooking method allows natural ingredients to shine and celebrates clean-cooking with untreated wood sourced farm-to-table style from wood suppliers. Chefs will responsibly-source wood the same way they gather produce and meats.
SWEET AND SAVORY TAIYAKI: Look for these darling fish-shaped cones to swim into the Midwest in 2020. The waffles have been available as street food snack in Japan since the 1900’s. Colorful ice cream filled versions popped up in New York a few years ago and recently made their way into Chicago. Look for soft serve filled fish-shaped cones filled to make a colorful splash in 2020. I also predict chefs will expand on savory taiyaki options–stuffing the waffles with bacon, eggs, beef, kimchi or cheese. The possibilities are endless with this photo worthy trend.