2020 Food Trends to Watch

What’s in and what’s out for 2020? While people may be so over Açai, avocado toast and all-things in a bowl, they’re wanting to know what’s going to dominate their taste buds next. We asked our Roundabout chefs to weigh in on their thoughts and predictions for the year ahead.

What’s Trending

Chef Colin Smith, owner-chef of Roundabout says, “I think we are going to see a swing back to hand crafted, made-with-love breads and traditional bakery items.” Patisserie goods made by skilled bakers using wholesome ingredients are in demand. Gluten-free options are no longer just for those with celiac disease or gluten allergies. Now, these options are also for those who believe that avoiding gluten is healthier and easier on the digestive system. Pastry chefs that use tried-and-true techniques while experimenting with new methods will continue to wow consumers.

Chef Colin also says that simple plating techniques and authentic cooking true to an area will continue to be well-received. Dishes made with locally source ingredients are still being requested, inquired about and enjoyed, even though the term “farm-to-table” may be considered passé. Micro-regions are most definitely in with the cool foodies, not to mention a terrific way to learn about the food of different cultures. And, vegetable based proteins and vegetable entrees are definitely on the rise.

“As people become more culturally aware, I believe they’re gradually becoming more conscious of culinary traditions around the world,” said Chef Alex Downing, chef de cuisine at Roundabout Catering. “Tradition is a powerful thing, and it is my opinion that food is the most powerful engine of communicating tradition. You can build on those traditions and alter them, subjectively improve them, while still being respectful. People no longer want to just be fed, they want to learn something.”

Chef Chris Nealon, executive chef at Roundabout Catering believes that hand-held foods will continue to put a smile on people’s faces. Whether it be a steak pop, mini chicken wrap, a housemade cheesy mac cone or pretzel bite, small portions still rule the roost.

“And everything plant-based,” said Chef Chris. “This trend has propelled itself into the mainstream. People are curious about the taste and are pleasantly surprised that plant-based items are now suitable and healthier options.” Whether it be a meatless burger or a healthy heaping of cauliflower fried rice, the sprouting of plant-based foods is now available to everyone.

Chef Christian Flores, executive chef of Roundabout Grill, is going all-in on tableside service. “Bringing back this classic service in restaurants is interesting and exciting,” said Chef Christian. “I am inspired to do a simple guacamole where the avocados are peeled and tossed in with fresh ingredients before our guests’ very eyes, or a nice Caesar salad in a spinning bowl or bananas foster, always a crowd favorite.”

What’s Out

Making their exit interviews are pickled foods, sous vide (especially when it’s not done correctly), and anything considered Modernist Molecular Gastronomy, according to Chef Colin and Chef Chris.

“The lab meeting the kitchen has seemed to fade,” said Chef Chris. “Although it’s fascinating, people have moved on.”

“Dairy is probably on the things that we use less and less in the restaurant apart from butter and cheese,” said Chef Christian. “Whole milk and heavy creams are just not as popular anymore.”

“This Star-Spangled All-‘merican greaseball approach to things is done,” said Chef Alex. “You don’t need a 12-cheese buffalo bacon deep fried mac and cheese philly cheesesteak chili-dog slammer nacho platter. This full-blown assault on the taste buds has been relentless this past decade, to where it’s overwhelming. This isn’t to say that heavy foods are on their way out. People are always going to love a good, rich, heavy comfort food type dish. But it needs to be refined and done more deliberately.”

The list goes on and on. Kale has seemed to bail (could kelp be the new kale?), and sushirritos have sashayed out of popularity. Especially in Reno, it is questionable whether “poke this and poke that” will continue to pique people’s palates (you see what we did here, with all those alliterations?) And, egg porn. Are we done with that yet?

What Ingredients Will Our Chefs Still Use, No Matter What?

When it comes to ingredients our chefs won’t budge on, there were strong opinions. “Kosher and sea salt, Espelette pepper, sherry vinegar and excessive butter are always in my pantry,” said Chef Chris (that makes perfect sense, since Chef Chris is two bits salty and four bits spicy.)

“I will never stop using butter,” said Chef Alex. “I will never stop using basically anything that adds umami. Soy, cheese and MSG – don’t get me started on the MSG debate. I will never stop injecting Asian influence into Western cuisine, and vice versa. I will never stop trying to force people to love pâté as much as I do… And I will stand in the streets in protest if they try to take foie gras away from us!”

“Mushrooms,” said Chef Christian. “There is nothing more versatile than mushrooms, and the variety is endless, from affordable and abundant to seasonal, very pricey and delicious. I always keep them on the menu. Love them!”

“I will always use butter and lots of salt!” said Chef Colin. Words to live by.

We hope you feel like a Food Insider and grab 2020 by the (butter)horns. What’s on your list for 2020?