Culinary Trends Have Frequent Diners Chomping at the Bit in 2018

BY Courtney Huckabay
Featured image for “Culinary Trends Have Frequent Diners Chomping at the Bit in 2018”

Chifa and Nordic-​influenced cuisine, nut-​based spreads, visual filters, sour beers and upcycling of ingredients are among the top dining trends of the new year according to Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants’ fourth annual Culinary & Cocktails Trend Forecast. From dishes like Choereg Bread with Za’atar, to Vadouvan Curried Carrots, the trends of 2018 are sure to spark imaginations from the kitchen to the bar.

Top Culinary Trends:

Meat Alternatives Going Mainstream

  • A majority of Kimpton chefs said plant-​based proteins such as tempeh or beet burgers will disrupt menus and win the hearts of vegetarians and omnivores alike.
  • Thirty-​one percent of chefs think vegan and nut- or seed-​based spreads like sunflower butter and cashew cream cheese will give avocado toast (the reigning darling of healthy brunches) a run for its money.

Diners will swoon for the latest and greatest trends in eating out. The new AudienceSCAN study found 13% of adults dine out or order takeout at least three times in a typical week!

Regional Influences

  • Expect to see more Nordic food influences, featuring fresh and colorful ingredients like carrots, cabbage and beets, and the embrace of alternative berries including juniper and lingonberries. From beet-​cured salmon with dill cream cheese, cucumber, shaved fennel and pickled mustard seeds to pan-​seared arctic char, Nordic flavors and techniques will be in full swing in 2018.
  • A rise in Chifa cuisine, the fusion of Cantonese and Peruvian food, provides more evidence of South America’s growing influence on the global culinary scene.
  • Reimagined Mexican cuisine and creative twists on classic Mexican dishes will find their way onto menus in 2018. Try the trend with chorizo-​stuffed dates or octopus tacos.

Restaurants and bistros can let Frequent Diners know they're featuring these hot and trendy regional dishes through mobile smartphone app ad or text message ad campaigns. The latest AudienceSCAN study revealed 48% of Frequent Diners took action after seeing these kinds of mobile ads in the past 30 days.

Emerging Spices

  • Spices like Za’atar, a traditional Middle Eastern blend of familiar and obscure flavors from sumac to thyme, and Vadouvan, the French interpretation of Indian curry and Kampot pepper – an elusive spice found only in the Kampot Province of Cambodia.

Dessert Flavors

  • Thirty-​eight percent of chefs agreed that sweet dessert flavors such as Meyer lemon, strawberry, blueberry and blood orange will infiltrate savory courses to create dishes like crispy artichokes and Dungeness crab with ember-​blistered lemon curd or an avocado parfait with yogurt and cucumber.

Out-​of-​home advertising can call out to hungry drivers looking for dining inspiration! The most recent AudienceSCAN study showed 38% of Frequent Diners took action based on outdoor ads/​signs/​billboards they saw in the past month.

Throwback to Classic Dishes

  • Think French onion soup, bone-​in steak, tartare and pork chops. These dishes bring nostalgic food memories to the table but with a fresh perspective.

Visual Elements

  • Instagram culture is here to stay. A majority of Kimpton chefs said their 2018 menu planning will include consideration of full sensory dishes that treat diners to socially shareable moments, incorporating imaginative and artful visual elements.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.