What’s Hot and What’s Not: 2021 Dining Trends

Gaby Sofitel New York

Weighing in on what’s hot and what’s not for 2020 food and beverage trends are some of the top hotel and resort chefs in the United States.

According to the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel, 2021 food trends include a rise in Filipino cuisine, reducing food waste with such practices as root-to-stem cooking, alternative sweeteners such as syrups made from dates and sun root, and a deeper exploration of foods from the Middle East. An interesting one for me is the possible reaction to the deluge of rainbow and unicorn foods and the incoming  ‘black’ foods. I don’t believe a Goth food trend will be nearly as strong; however, activated charcoal was making a strong presence in the food industry beginning in mid 2017. Thinking charcoal lemonade, pizza crust, cheeses, and even toothpaste. This trend will continue to emerge for 2018.

Top hotel chefs are also weighing in on the emerging dining trends of this year. Notable plates for this year are anticipated to include crisp, colorful vegetables, culturally eclectic menus, and even unique spins on Hawaiian poke. Poke was beginning to pop up on menus more often in 2017 than in recent years and it will most likely make an even stronger presence this year.

Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa Chef Eric K
Chef Eric Kaszubinski, Credit: Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa

What’s Hot for 2021?

“Healthy eating remains top of mind for diners, so dishes with vegetables as the main ingredient – pickled and fermented vegetables, in particular – will take center stage on menus. International flavors, like Korean and Hawaiian, have exploded. Poke, for example, has become super popular. I imagine chefs will continue to experiment with this traditional Hawaiian dish, recreating it and making it their own” says Eric Kaszubinski, Executive Chef at Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa.

Tying in to the root-to-stem trend for 2021, vegetables will become the main focus on the plate rather than proteins. “Veggies will be the star of the show in 2021. Bright, colorful vegetables will replace proteins as the main focus of an entrée. Cultural flavors will also make their way onto more menus. Diners are always looking for something new, so culturally eclectic menus with new and inspiring flavors will be important,” says Gustavo Calderon, Executive Chef, 3800 Ocean at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa.

3800 Ocean Chef Gustavo Calderon - East End Taste
Chef Gustavo Calderon, Credit: 3800 Ocean

Most diners are always looking for healthier options on restaurant menus.“Low carb and low sugar diets. The use of more raw vegetables on menus. More use of roots and leaves to combat food wastage. Cassava flour, too, because it’s gluten- and grain-free,” adds Robert Hohmann, Executive Chef, Gaby Brasserie Française at Sofitel New York.

For 2021, bakers focusing on using local grains, milling the day before baking. Bread is all or nothing for this year: either high-end and artisanal, or low-carb and high protein.

What’s Not for 2021?

“Sriracha is an overused ingredient, as are truffle oil and balsamic vinegar,” says Robert Hohmann, Executive Chef, Gaby Brasserie Française at Sofitel New York.

Avocado Toast, for example, seemed to explode in 2016 and into 2017. Though, I think we have seen enough of it. “Avocado toast is so overdone. On to bigger and better things!” Gustavo Calderon, Executive Chef, 3800 Ocean at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa.

In 2021, we will instead see more of:

Cricket flour and non-grain sustainable proteins, bananas transformed into milks, snacks, flours and baking mixes, and cocktail mixers and bitters for home use. The focus will also still continue to be on sustainable agriculture, pasture-raised animals for welfare and better health, and ‘upcycled’ products to eliminate food waste.

Header photo credit: Sofitel New York