Benchmark Names Top 10 Dining Trends for 2019

Craft tea is among the 2019 food trends

Benchmark recently released its Top Ten Dining Trends for 2019 as observed by executive chefs and culinary experts at the company’s 80 luxury hotels, resorts, and restaurants.

“Food and beverage is an ever-evolving realm of experiences,” says Patrick Berwald, Benchmark’s vice president food and beverage. “The opportunity for us is not only to be ahead of the trend but to understand who tomorrow’s customer will be, what fulfills their needs and how our properties can be ready to meet that demand.”

1. Craft Tea

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Three cups of tea are consumed worldwide for every cup of coffee, and in the United States, coffee drinkers are dramatically becoming tea fans. This is not a new trend, but what is new is how people are beginning to think of tea with the same reverence as coffee due to its many varieties, applications, and benefits. One’s local coffee roaster may soon have a new neighbor in the form of a “tea bar.” Craft tea blending, nitro tea on tap, and tea cocktails will start to proliferate.

2. Sustainable Meat

Not yet available to buy commercially, heme (from the Greek word for ‘blood’) is at the cutting edge of food science and is a possible stepping stone to a more environmentally sustainable meat and protein alternative. Tech-food companies are using it to bring a meaty quality to their wheat and potato protein burger with the “bloodiness” of meat cooked rare. However, select steak restaurants will still be expanding their repertoire to include new cuts like Vegas Strip steak (from the shoulder area), merlot cut (from the heel) and bavette (the bottom part of sirloin known as flap meat).

3. Fermentation

Big brand kombucha (fermented tea) has cemented itself in the new age of alternative beverages, but consumers will soon see various styles of home-grown kombucha coming out of boutique/lifestyle hotels and chef-driven, trendy eateries. Further to the fermented craze, these same businesses will expand their line to include more kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir, but also carrots and cream, and many other foods fermented, cooked, and offered to customers. All with the focus on consuming the least processed food possible—increasing probiotics to improve the immune system.

4. Alternative Sources of Protein 

As food costs continue to rise, chefs are looking for alternative sources of protein. Insects appear more and more as a sensible choice on many levels. They exist in large quantities and can be found everywhere. In fact, 80 percent of the world consumes insects. Low in fat and full of protein, insect powders can enhance cocktails and cricket flour can be used to make breads and pastries. Their products will soon flood the shelves of grocery stores and restaurants alike.

5. Farm to Table 2.0

One trend that has been in the works for some time now is the farm-to-table movement. It has recently taken a new path and that is the chef/farmer movement of custom farming in regard to specifying what seeds are planted for new menu development. These relationships between restaurants and local farms help to support and sustain farming.

6. Outside Eateries

In an age of online and mobile food-ordering services, diners have moved away from eateries to placing more value on being home-bound and the convenience of delivery. However, Benchmark projects that diners will stop unwrapping their plastic packages of cutlery and again recognize that restaurant dining offers more compelling and satisfying experiences, which truly nurtures the soul. Whether it is celebrity spotting, educating one’s taste buds on adventurous cuisine, or building relationships in social atmospheres, outside eateries offer experiences diners cannot get at home.

7. Vegetarianism

The popularity of vegetarianism has changed the way chefs approach menu offerings. With today’s diners increasingly aware of their “macro diets” and culinarians applying unique and creative takes on mom’s succotash, menus will soon see a large portion dedicated to vegetarians and what is plant-based and coming from the ground. Dishes are even becoming vegetable-focused, with proteins as the compliment. Even vegetarian tasting menus are quickly becoming the staple in many accredited establishments.

8. Food with Heart

The hospitality industries are no strangers to supporting the hungry and less fortunate. However, with a global focus on the natural disasters humanity faces, the collective culinary community is starting to put their food where their mouth is and put greater efforts behind charities that provide sustainable support. Chefs are beginning to make more meaningful connections around food, less about social media and more about that they take on deeper issues and how food is involved.

9. Ingredient Remix

Chefs are ready for a remix of typical ingredients. Citrus is a widely used component in many dishes and libations, but soon citron, cumquat, and shaddock could make regular cameos. Kale has outlived its welcome and will soon be replaced by such wild weeds as sorrel, dandelion greens, and amaranth. Finally, put away the honey and agave as life will become a bit sweeter with derivatives from sources like carrot, sweet potato, golden beet, butternut squash, and corn.

10. Food Science

Culinarians speak about healthy eating, but this is far from nutrition, which is much more rooted in the science of food. Professional dietitians will rank alongside celebrity chefs as the benefits of understanding nutrition combined with leveraging technology will allow consumers to personalize their food experiences. Consumers will begin to craft personal portion sizing relative to their dietary and nutritional needs. The convergence of mobile and Internet technologies will allow providers and core consumers to have access to personal dietary requirements at restaurants, retail locations and quick-service eateries. Personally-assigned nutrition will become commonplace and a major influence on diet.