Between persistent food inflation and pent-up demands from diners leftover from the pandemic, new flavor trends have emerging. Diners are looking for authenticity while also wanting to try new and exciting flavors and innovative foods.
Diners are now using food and drink for new experiences to explore the cuisines and cultures from places around the globe. Chefs are finding new opportunities to integrate globally inspired flavors into their menus.
There has been an increase in Nigerian and Filipino cuisines influencing chefs as well as Latin American flavors and the fusion cuisine Itameshi, where Italian meets Japanese cuisine. Chefs are fusing Japanese ingredients or culinary techniques with foods they love from their surroundings. Cuisines such as Indian and West African, where the spice levels are more complex, are trending as well.
With the growing interest in international flavors, complex and higher spice levels in food are also gaining popularity. Diners are craving more than just heat though, they also want to learn about specific varieties of peppers from around the world, underlying flavor notes, and pairing them with other flavors such as the combination of chili varietals with sweet ingredients to create a complex flavor sensation.
Adding a spicy kick to sweets and a sweet-and-spicy complement to savory dishes, particularly on fall and winter menus, is the next hot honey. The hot-and-sweet combination continues to be a trend, but the more savory-salty side of flavors along with sweet notes is on the rise. This is a trend that chefs are utilizing to make unique dishes and while these funky, savory ingredients mixed with sweet may seem strange they add a unique depth of flavor.
In times of uncertainty, it is quite natural to find relief in comfort food. As communities deal with hardships and times of stress, comfort food is consistently in higher demand. Chefs are using the best ingredients and technique to execute simple comforting meals that remind diners of better and simpler times. By adding a reimagined take, chefs are taking it up a notch or even adding a fine dining twist to favorite comfort classics.
Starchy dishes that warm the soul and nourish the body seem to resonate at a higher level. Ingredients high in calories, like fried foods and cheese, and other items such as breads, pastas, and soups are being used by chefs to provide a comforting experience to their members. Chefs are also remixing versions of childhood favorites that are more wellness-focused as well as recreating vintage and nostalgic dishes throughout the century. When diners start seeing certain flavors they remember while growing up, there’s an instant connection.
Changes in the dining industry brought about by the pandemic and the escalating costs of ingredients continue to drive the eating habits of diners. In order to stay up to date with current flavor trends, chefs are finding new opportunities to use new flavors in their menus and appeal to their current and even potential new members.