Ancient Grains

Ancient grains rank among the top 20 food trends in a new survey from The National Restaurant Association (NRA). The NRA annually explores the top menu trends for the coming year. For this year’s What’s Hot culinary forecast, the NRA surveyed nearly 1,600 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – to find which foods, beverages and culinary themes will be hot on restaurant menus in 2016.

Top 20 food trends for 2016:

Locally sourced meats and seafood

Chef-driven fast-casual concepts

Locally grown produce

Hyper-local sourcing

Natural ingredients/minimally processed food

Environmental sustainability

Healthful kids’ meals

New cuts of meat

Sustainable seafood

House-made/artisan ice cream

Ethnic condiments/spices

Authentic ethnic cuisine

Farm/estate branded items

Artisan butchery

Ancient grains

Ethnic-inspired breakfast items

Fresh/house-made sausage

House-made/artisan pickles

Food waste reduction/management

Street food/food trucks

When asked which current food trend has grown the most over that last decade, 44 percent of the chefs surveyed said local sourcing. Looking forward, 41 percent said the trend that will grow the most in the next 10 years is environmental sustainability.

Menu items that gained in trendiness since last year’s survey include African flavors, authentic ethnic cuisine, ethnic condiments/spices, house-made/artisan soft drinks, Middle Eastern flavors and non-traditional liquors. Items that lost momentum include underutilized fish, kale salads, fresh beans/peas, gluten-free cuisine, quinoa and flower essence in cocktails.