Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) has unveiled its Future Menus Top North America Trends 2024 report, following a one-of-a-kind tasting experience at Esmé, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago. 

The Future Menus North America Trends 2024 report identifies top menu trends predicted to influence the restaurant industry in the coming years. The report details how the following trends will come to life on menus and how operators can put them into action in their establishments:

  • Modernized Comfort Food reflects the evolution of familiar dishes, making way for new recipes that reflect the heritage of the chef and the restaurant’s locale. Chef Jenner presented a few dishes to bring this trend to life, including a Wagyu short rib slider with a Hellmann’s-inspired special sauce and an Iberico pork shoulder with heirloom rice, black beans and mojo.
  • The rising cost of ingredients and an ongoing commitment to sustainability is the driving force behind the Low-Waste Menu trend which encourages resourcefulness to reduce waste and maximize ingredient usage. In the face of sustainability concerns, 65% of foodservice operators consider this trend the most relevant and expect this trend to grow. To showcase how to optimize ingredient usage, Chef Jenner used the entire sunflower-petals, stem and seeds-to create his sunflower bavarois and caviar course.
  • With nearly one-third of the US population showing a strong affinity for plant-based food and more than 40% of consumers agreeing that the availability of plant-based food enhances the restaurant experience, it’s no surprise that Irresistible Vegetables is a key trend that will impact foodservice in the coming year. 
  • The Local Abundance trend is about celebrating local ingredients and producers. It’s also a profitable trend since over three-quarters (77%) of Gen Z diners and 70% of Baby Boomers are willing to pay more for dishes with locally sourced ingredients. Chef Jenner showcased the bounty of local Chicago farmers and purveyors through a variety of small plates including a Wagyu carpaccio tart with shiso, black garlic and strawberry, a fava bean tart and a fresh farm egg with asparagus. 
  • The New Sharing trend also highlights the growing demand for unique, playful, and multi-sensory shareable dish experiences. To add an element of fun and surprise, Chef Jenner incorporated AI into the experience as he unveiled his next dish.

“Many of the Future Menus North America 2024 trends naturally align with our vision for a dynamic and interactive dining experience, so we were excited to collaborate with Unilever Food Solutions to bring these trends to life,” says Jenner Tomaska, chef and owner, Esmé. “We utilized local ingredients alongside Unilever’s branded ingredients like Hellmann’s and Knorr to develop a menu that told a story, with each course representing at least one trend.” 

“We were thrilled to partner with Chef Tomaska to launch our Future Menus Trend report. Whether using the entire sunflower to represent Local Abundance and Low-Waste Menus or reimagining the dessert course with Irresistible Vegetables, Chef Tomaska’s menu beautifully represented the Future Menus trends,” says Brandon Collins, executive chef for UFS North America. “With Future Menus 2024, our goal is to help chefs and operators put these trends into action and create unique dining experiences for their customers.”