You read it here first: African spices are going to be 2016’s big food trend

The National Restaurant Association in the US said spice blends from different parts of Africa will be taking over menus everywhere in 2016. — AFP pic
The National Restaurant Association in the US said spice blends from different parts of Africa will be taking over menus everywhere in 2016. — AFP pic

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NEW YORK, Nov 7 — Dukkah and berbere are in. Kale and gluten-free cuisine are out.

Those are among some of the prognostications in a new trendspotting report prepared by the National Restaurant Association in the US that predicts the kinds of foods and cuisines diners can expect to see on restaurant menus in 2016.

And while buzzwords over the last few years have included gluten-free, kale, quinoa and coconut water, according to a survey of 1,600 chefs in the US, the year 2016 will herald a new set of flavours and trends, notably when it comes to international cuisines.

After Thai, Vietnamese and Korean flavours became mainstream in urban centres across the US, chefs are predicting that the culinary spotlight will shine bright on African spices next year, introducing diners to the flavours of Ethiopia and Morocco.

Look for words like berbere, harissa, dukkah, ras el hanout and tsire — all spice blends from different parts of Africa — to appear on menus as seasoning for fish, beef, chicken, goat and lamb, couscous, flat breads and vegetables.

For the report, members of the American Culinary Federation were asked to rate 221 items on their relevance in 2016.

Chefs also predict that Latin American and Middle Eastern flavours will become more commonplace at restaurants across the US, with condiments like chimichurri, peri peri sauce and harissa spicing up dishes.

After years of focusing on locally sourced fruits and vegetables, chefs also predict the trend to transition into demand for locally sourced meats and seafood, which tops the list of 20 most popular food trends for 2016.

The recent phenomenon of top chefs launching fast-casual restaurant concepts for the masses shows no sign of slowing, the report adds, and is likely to continue in 2016.

This year alone, David Chang opened fried chicken restaurant Fuku in New York; chef José Andrés opened his veggie restaurant Beefsteak in Washington DC and Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi have joined forces with plans to open a fast casual joint that serves quality burgers in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

All, with the exception of Choi, are Michelin-starred chefs.

Trending foods over the last few years such fried chicken, biscuits, barbecue, pulled pork and French toast, meanwhile, are expected to maintain their popularity next year as well.

Here are the top 20 food trends to look out for in the restaurant industry for 2016:

1. Locally sourced meats and seafood

2. Chef-driven fast-casual concepts

3. Locally grown produce

4. Hyper-local sourcing

5. Natural ingredients/minimally processed food

6. Environmental sustainability

7. Healthful kids’ meals

8. New cuts of meat

9. Sustainable seafood

10. House-made/artisan ice cream — AFP-Relaxnews

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