It’s no longer just meat and potatoes |

It’s no longer just meat and potatoes

Ronni Hannaman
Today’s chef preference: Less meat, more veggies.
Courtesy Cooking Light |

It might be harder in the future to find the stand-by meat and potatoes on a menu as restaurants dictate what we should be eating, the way the fashion world dictates what we should be wearing to be cool.

In a new report, “What’s Hot – 2018 Culinary Forecast,” recently published by the National Restaurant Association, about 700 professional chefs were interviewed to identify the hot trends you will find on non-fast food menus in 2018.

The top 20 food trends include new cuts of meat — oyster steak, Vegas Strip Steak, Merlot cut, and other nuevo names — housemade condiments, artisan pickles, and street food-inspired dishes. Thus, the growing popularity of food truck fare will be served at your table instead of you having to wait in line.

Expect to see more ethnic-inspired breakfast items than the traditional bacon, eggs and pancakes. Become familiar with Dosa with curried potatoes and mint chutney, Samosa Chaat, Acai Bowl, Chilaquiiles and savory oatmeal. We in the west are already familiar with chorizo and Huevos con Salsa Verde, so that makes us pretty darn cool already.

McDonald’s is already serving healthier kids meals and if you are a carb junkie, you’ll be introduced to vegetable carb substitutes — so much better for you the experts say!

Uncommon herbs, ethnic spices and condiments, along with African flavors, will be used to season foods giving dishes unique flavors.

Ah, dessert lovers, rejoice, for you can still enjoy a dessert or two now and then. Try the Thai rolled ice cream. For those not in the know, this is stir-fried ice cream that is made when milk is poured on an iced grill and mixed with fruit or other ingredients. Once the mixture freezes — in about two minutes — it is rolled and ready to enjoy. As for toppings, oh yeah! Gummie Bears, chocolate sauce, Oreos and more.

The farm-to-table concept continues. You’ll see continued emphasis on hyper-local products with natural ingredients and locally sourced meat, seafood, and produce. Much of what you will find in some of our more upscale restaurants is locally-sourced from surrounding counties. Carson once had many ranches and farms, but those are long gone in favor of rooftops.

Even Costco has entered into the farm-to-table era showcasing their new products recipes in their December 2017 edition of Costco Connection that are “fresh and healthy finds.”

Like an alcoholic beverage now and then? You’ll see more locally produced spirits/wine/beer along with regional signature cocktails. For the teetotaler, your choices will include gourmet lemonade, cold-brew coffee and house-made artisan soft drinks.

Plant-based food is all the rage. Expect to see more plant-based burger patties to replace meat burgers. The mantra is no soy, no gluten and GMO-free.

For trend eaters, it won’t be so cool anymore to eat artisan cheese or heirloom fruits and vegetables. That time has passed. The very “in” thing to order in a wine bar or upscale restaurant is the house-made charcuterie. If you have never ordered a charcuterie, better do so soon since that trend is cooling mighty fast.

Forget ordering your meal (mostly salads) in a mason jar. That was yesterday’s news. Just as you may have gotten used to the taste of pumpkin spice or flavored popcorn, sorry, no longer in vogue. If you just absolutely loved fried chickpeas, egg-white omelets and black/forbidden rice, that may soon come off the menu.

The study shows comfort food — whatever that is these days — ranks No. 4 under the perennial favorites category. BBQ is up there at No. 2, hand-made pasta at No. 3 and shellfish ranks No. 1. Oh yes, people still love bacon, ranked No. 3.

You can thank the Millennials and the creativity of the Millennial chefs for getting us out of our eating ruts (comfort food) and encouraging us to try new foods that may be in this year and out the next.