African flavors have been in the spotlight and gaining traction. Last year, 66 percent of the American Culinary Federation chefs identified African flavors, including spices, preparations and sauces, as a top trend to watch (2018 What’s Hot Survey). This year, South African flavors may be giving way to an intense interest in North African flavors, following the success of harissa.
Chakalaka, a South African spicy vegetable relish, is a flavor to watch, says April Spears, VP of Marketing at Presenture, a national foodservice sales and branding agency, working primarily with food manufacturers. “Heat is not straight up, (but) served with sweet, tangy, savory and smoky flavors.”
Foodservice consultancy and trend watcher Baum+Whiteman identified Filipino cuisine, Indian street food and upscale Korean concepts as top trends developing in 2018 (See “Trend Catalyst Report” in Eatery Pulse News.) Spears adds North African and Thai influence, also, to the trend watch list. She notes that curry, freekeh, and ‘nduja are seeing increased menu mentions.”
“Thai, Indian, Korean and North African Influences are hot right now and are breaking through into foodservice in the form of sauces, spirces and proteins,” she says.
Winsight’s Technomic, a Chicago-based foodservice research film and consultancy, has also presented Southeast Asia as a source of the next trends. Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore should be next on the list, according to the firm, along with cuisine and flavors from other island nations of that region. As far as global flavors that are prepared here in the U.S., the difference between what may be considered great versus good hinges on their authenticity, says Spears.
According to the Presenture executive, “Millennials, especially, have more evolved pallets and are more likely to try spicy foods from different cultures. As a result, we are starting to see those multicultural brands and establishments do well in foodservice.”
Photo credit: P. Hershey