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Forecasting the Flavors of 2015

Trends for dining out in the New Year

Dec. 23, 2014
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We can’t even catch our breath from the holidays before we are inundated with diet tips and New Years resolutions, but with bated breath we also get a peek at what trends we’ll see in restaurants and food in 2015.

Now, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have some guesses, along with information from the National Restaurant Association and companies like Technomic or Baum + Whiteman who are experts in forecasting the flavors and trends that drive restaurant sales. While some may be regional, or not a trend but a fad (marijuana edibles?), the strongest currents will spread from the East to West Coast. Our city will not be left out.

In Milwaukee we are known for our massive portions, but the trend is moving towards smaller plates, communal dishes and fewer menu items. We have embraced this style of dining this past year and what a great way to taste your way around a chef’s menu and share a meal. It stimulates your conversation as well as your appetite and everyone gets to be a food critic in the conversation.

Social media like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Yelp are big parts of everyday life and marketing tools for restaurateurs. Chefs will be making food even more picture perfect and using it as their calling card. So if you are wondering if the kitchen frowns on you snap-chatting their food, know that this year more chefs want you to say  “cheese.”

Kale move over! Yes, we will still see it, and quinoa and other ancient grains popping up. But they are going to take a back seat to bitter greens like collards and lots of fermented food, especially the 3 K’s: kimchi, kombucha and kraut. Also, look for the underestimated cauliflower to pop up on menus in very creative ways.

Bitter will be the taste sensation in 2015 from our vegetables to coffee, chocolates and libations. The New Year will bring deeper, richer and darker offerings to the consumer.

Italian cuisine never goes out of style, but this year it is all about Korean and Vietnamese food. The reinvented ramen and Asian street food will hit our streets as well as upscale restaurants.

Local and Farm to Table will be bigger than last year, but this year you will see even more “head to tail” culinary visions landing on your plate. Two restaurants I dined at this week had veal brains on the menu. Coincidence? I think not! Chefs are getting savvy with whole-animal butchery and food costs.

Name changes and renaming cuts of meat won’t be meant to confuse you. The National Pork Board has come out with new names for pork cuts that you will see on menus and at the grocery store. Look for flatiron, porterhouse, New York, ribeye and T-bone in the pork section.

Donuts will still be going strong, but cronuts and cupcakes are out, or should I say, “so 2014.” The trend in desserts will be designer ice cream sandwiches. The possibilities will be endless for restaurants, catered events and even the home cook to showcase their creativity.

So, as we are getting ready to come to the close of 2014, my gut is telling me that 2015 is going to be a tasty year for dining out and with that I say, “Bring on the New Year.”

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