As 2020 came to a close, vaccines were on the horizon and an end to the pandemic felt like it might finally be in sight. So when we asked chefs to tell us what trends they anticipated for the new year, some predicted joyful, special occasion dining would come back with a bang.
Many also told us, for worse and occasionally better, all the ways COVID-19 altered their businesses — from the ingredients they used in their dishes to how, when, and where they were serving them.
Fast-forward a year, and though much has changed — vaccines are here! So are variants — the industry is still feeling the impact of the pandemic, in the form of supply chain issues, staffing shortages, and general burnout. But there also have been massive innovations — and hopefully more to come — in how we operate restaurants and eat at them.
We asked chefs their restaurant predictions for 2022, and here’s what they had to say.
Restaurants will be open fewer days of the week
“I think we will see far fewer restaurants open seven days a week and more operating five, or even four, nights a week. This will be due not only to lack of staffing, but restaurateurs focusing on more ‘quality of life’ decisions for their teams.” — Melissa Perello, chef/owner, Frances and Octavia, in San Francisco
“We’ll see more restaurants operating five to six days a week, or curbing their hours to match a work/life balance for their employees. And frankly, I think that’s great! Our industry has felt ‘the show must go on no matter what’ for too long. Our instincts to overwork ourselves to a breaking point in the name of dinner, fuel our mental health and substance abuse struggles across our industry and change is long past due.” — Amarys Koenig Herndon and Jordan Herndon, executive chefs of Palm&Pine in New Orleans
“So many of us in the restaurant industry have worked our butts off to pivot and survive during the pandemic. Now we’re burned out and exhausted and the pandemic just keeps going! A central challenge for 2022 will be accepting the fact that disruptions — whether pandemic, climate, or supply-chain related — are now a permanent part of the landscape.
If we’re going to keep our core team intact over the long haul and stay true to our mission, it might mean cutting back on some services, bowing out of some events, and generally saying ‘adios’ to anything superfluous that threatens our ability to serve great food and take care of people over the long haul.” — Caroline Glover, chef and owner of Annette in Aurora, Colorado
Menu prices will continue to rise …
“Across the board, we will see higher menu prices for food. Pre-COVID, prices were increasing and now that everyone is talking about it, hopefully, it’s not that much of a shock for guests when they see a pasture-raised beef burger in the USD 20s and a fish entrée in the USD 40s. ” — Paul C Reilly, chef/owner of Coperta and Apple Blossom in Denver
“Food costs will continue to rise as the supply chain becomes increasingly more challenging to navigate in this new world. We’ve seen vegetable prices nearly double due to weather, importing difficulties, compounded with high demands from farms around the world.” — Bobby Yoon, chef and owner of Yoon Haeundae Galbi in New York City
… As menus continue to shrink
“With escalated meat prices, from beef to chicken wings and more, restaurants will be simplifying their menus to adapt in 2022. Chefs will take a creative approach towards minimising waste and creating flavours from the ingredients themselves. Streamlining the menu to focus on delicious food without too many choices will help businesses effectively manage their costs.” — Vinson Petrillo, executive chef of Zero Restaurant + Bar in Charleston
“With the supply chain challenges, staffing crisis, and higher cost of goods, I foresee independent restaurants pushing to a simplified pre-fix emenu that emphasises local ingredients while minimising costs. 2022 dining menus will see a streamlined, localised approach that will keep in line with what is locally fresh and readily available, forcing chefs to innovate their menus with ingredients and products already on hand due to the current state of industry hurdles.” — RJ Cooper, owner and chef of Saint Stephen in Nashville
Restaurant operators will diversify their business models
“I believe that restaurants will continue to create diversified revenue streams as a result of the pandemic. You’ll see a lot more one-stop-shop hybrids of retail and restaurant concepts. The restaurant model alone has not been sustainable, and folks have figured out ways for additional revenue to allow for a restaurant to be a healthy space for its employees and surrounding communities.” — Reem Assil, founder of Reem’s California in Oakland
Tips will be pooled
“We need to continue to bridge the wage gap in the restaurant industry. Traditionally, the FOH [front of house] has exponentially taken home a larger share of tips, and with a shifted focus on takeout and delivery, the nature of much of our customer interaction has changed.
In many cases, such as online ordering and with delivery aggregators that restaurants are using with more regularity, the order goes right to the kitchen and bypasses the cashier altogether. The BOH has the pressure now to watch pickup times and parse through modifications and notes the customer may have left.” — Evan Bloom, founder and CEO of Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen in Los Angeles
Cancellation policies will be stricter
“We’ll see a lot more restaurants with stricter cancellation policies or even deposits/ticket sales. We’re sick of being at the mercy of the multiple reservation maker who no-shows at 3 restaurants in a night and after facing the harsh realities of no-shows while operating at limited capacity, changes to operations are inevitable. — Amarys Koenig Herndon and Jordan Herndon
Hyper-local foods will get even more hyper-local
“From bare grocery store shelves to container ship traffic jams, 2021 has been the year of supply chain disruption. These shocks have revealed just how fragile our global supply chain is, and they’ve driven home the importance of doing right by your local farmers, bakers, butchers and cheesemakers. It’s time to understand what can be procured sustainably within your region, as the other options are being derailed by a multitude of forces.” — Caroline Glover
“Supporting the local food movement will not only be a trend but a necessity due to the disruption of the supply chain. Because of the pandemic, we are still feeling the ripple effects of what can be sourced, and in places like Denver, where there is not as robust a farming scene, I think we’ll start to see a lot of new purveyors popping up and producing speciality ingredients. I am excited for the local and artisanal producers to be more public-facing.” — Cody Cheetham, executive chef of Tavernetta in Denver
“With the rising cost of goods and inflation, menus now more than ever are being built to cross-utilise ingredients as much as possible. There is an even larger focus on local ingredients because local supply chains are not as broken as the global chains.” — Kelsey Bush, co-owner and executive chef of Bloomsday Cafe in Philadelphia
“There will be an increased focus on reducing the carbon footprint for climate change — this means chefs ordering local as much as possible, especially regarding fish and meat.” — Amy Brandwein, chef and owner of Centrolina and Piccolina in Washington, DC
“I’m seeing an influx of hyper-locally sourced ingredients with chefs focusing on smaller, tighter menus. We are having to work with ingredients and products that we currently have at our disposal and within the local community.” — Ryan Poli, executive chef at Bobby Hotel in Nashville
There will be more chef collaborations
“I believe a big trend in the upcoming year will be chef collaborative dinners where two or more chefs come together to create tasting menus that combine their unique styles. With guests craving social interactions and chefs hungry to get creative after a long stretch of just surviving, these dinners provide a perfect opportunity to have fun. They also reach double the audience a solo chef would, and allow flexibility of menus and ingredients since most of the menus are specially created for the event.” — Tatiana Rosana, executive chef of The Envoy Hotel in Boston
“One of the highlights from 2021 for me was collaborating with other chefs and restaurants. I’m hoping we all continue to support each other as we work our way out of the past few years that were incredibly challenging to our industry.” — Gerardo Alcaraz, chef and partner of Aldama in Brooklyn, New York
We’ll use local food delivery services
“Restaurants will work together to retain as much revenue as they possibly can and will build local-only delivery services. This will provide better value for their customers, a lot more control over the delivery structure, and eliminate expensive third party, non-community based delivery services. — Beth Dinice, executive chef at Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore
High-end fine dining is back
“If you follow restaurant trends over the last two decades, when we’ve come out of a period of unrest — including 9/11 or the 2008 economic crisis, for example — there’s been a return to super high-end dining and really inventive cuisine. The time is ripe for this and I think people will be willing to go out and spend more and gather together around a more formal dining experience. — Paul C Reilly, chef/owner of Coperta and Apple Blossom in Denver
Food will be personal and unapologetic
“I think 2022 is the year of unapologetic food. Food that is very personal to the person cooking it. You’ll see a lot of blending of foods of chefs reconnecting with their culture and history, and combining it with techniques and inspiration for where they are in their lives now. Call it fusion, call it whatever you want. I’m calling it a future that’s diverse and tells a new chapter in how we see food representative of what it’s like to be a BIPOC American.” — Kevin Tien, executive chef of Moon Rabbit at InterContinental Washington D.C. – The Wharf
“Filipino flavours and talent are being noticed for their delicious food. We’ve always had brilliant Filipino chefs in the industry, but now they are cooking the flavours and ingredients of their culture.” — Claudette Zepeda, executive chef of Alila Marea Beach Resort in Encinitas, California
Comfort food is sticking around
“Over the past year and a half people have leaned into comfort foods and I see that continuing through 2022. However, we won’t see the traditional chicken noodle soup and mac and cheese, but I envision chefs taking it up a notch and adding a reimagined take on our favourite comfort classics. My Indian twist on the traditional meatloaf is kabob style with the warm Indian spices I know and love.” — Maneet Chauhan, chef, TV personality, restaurateur, and author of Chaat, based in Nashville
“The past couple of years have shown the move toward a more comforting approach to foods that we all grew up eating. I see that continuing to grow with so many skilled chefs gearing in that direction. Using the best ingredients and technique to execute simple comforting meals.” — Henry Zamora, chef of Tacos Güey in New York City
”As communities deal with hardships and times of stress, comfort food is consistently in higher demand. Starchy dishes that warm the soul and nourish the body seem to resonate at a higher level. Things such as breads, pastas, braises, and soups hit the spot and remind us of better times.” — Phelix Gardner, executive chef and partner at PAGO in Salt Lake City, Utah
“I think 2022 will be a return to comfort food cooking with an emphasis on vegetables. More large-format dishes like lasagna, nachos, stews and other really warming, simple dishes — but utilising less meat in an effort to help fight climate change and also to celebrate the rich produce of the various seasons.” — Amy Yi, culinary director at Genuine Foods
“This is not a trend; comfort food has always been woven into the taste buds of America. We are still very much at the height of a pandemic and restaurants were not open and available to consumers for the better part of last year. We were all at home, making our own recipes and dining experiences right at our dining room tables. Because of this, we bonded with food in a way that we hadn’t before.” — Chef Jasmine Norton, executive chef and owner of The Urban Oyster in Baltimore
Live-fire cooking will get even hotter
“I foresee that open-fire cooking will be rising in popularity in 2022. It’s a simple, traditional way of cooking that allows the natural taste of your ingredients to shine, with the added bonus of smokiness and depth from charcoal. We made it a priority to make space for a Bintochan Grill in Vestry’s kitchen. Our Atlantic Salmon with Butternut Squash and Kombu dish is cooked on the open fire. Cooking the salmon on the Bintochan Grill gives a wonderful, light smokiness to the fish, and results in an exceptional crispy texture on the salmon skin that can’t be replicated on a stovetop or in the oven.” — Shaun Hergatt, owner of Vestry in New York City
Alcohol-free cocktails will keep booming …
“I’m not much for following food trends because I believe excellent food never goes in and out of style, but one item I predict seeing more of in 2022, however, is alcohol-free crafted cocktails. There are so many creative ways to present a drink that have nothing to do with alcohol like vodka or gin, whether using tinctures, fermented ingredients or otherwise that can give a drink a great depth of character, no alcohol required.” — Gavin Fine, co-founder of Fine Dining Restaurant Group, including The Bistro at The Cloudveil in Jackson Hole
“Bartenders are looking to do more and accomplish more with non-alcoholic beverages, and really push the envelope with flavour and thought that will help lead the way with guest needs as drinking less spirits has become more of a trend in the younger generations.” — Biff Gottehrer, chef and co-owner of The Refectory in Villanova, Pennsylvania
“We are anticipating a larger demand and have seen an increased interest in zero-proof or alcohol-free cocktails. These new drinks are no longer simply a mix of fruit juices but feature an elevated eye appeal with fresh, seasonal ingredients.” — Fernando Soberanis, executive chef of Laurel Brasserie & Bar in Salt Lake City, Utah
“We’re going to see more vegetable-focused drinks—mocktails, so to speak. People are more focused on what is beneficial for their health, i.e., less alcohol. Great new vegetable flavours are on the horizon, stemming from bartenders with a food-first background.” — Gabriel Kreuther, chef of Gabriel Kreuther Restaurant and culinary director of The Baccarat in New York City
… And so will fermented drinks
“After kombucha, I think we will continue to work with the use of naturally fermented beverages such as tepache in Mexico.” — Gabriel Kolofon, director of culinary at Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya in Mexico
Outdoor private dining is here to stay
“Many guests have fallen in love with the outdoor greenhouses, yurts and bubbles that restaurateurs have built over these past 18 months to weather the pandemic. Besides keeping you safe by minimising the amount of space (and air) that you share with other restaurant guests, these structures have proven perfect for people whose children are sleeping—or screaming bloody murder—during dinner. Because of that, they’re likely to remain the first choice for many families when dining out. — Caroline Glover
“We are also seeing more requests for private dining. We’re lucky we have a small patio where we can make that happen, and we’re also building a second small patio to cover the requests.” — Christopher Gross, chef of Christopher’s at Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix, Arizona
“Recent developments concerning COVID-19 remind us that the pandemic is not over, so I predict a continuous high demand for private dining rooms and even some very exclusive dining rooms located in private apartment spaces.” — Alain Verzeroli, director of culinary operations and chef of Le Jardinier in New York City, Miami, and Houston
You’ll eat your vegetables
“Over the past couple of years, we have watched supply chains take a real hit which has created the closest thing to scarcity that most modern chefs have experienced. So the desire that I have always had to cook light, vegetable-forward, sustainable cuisine has become something I feel will be more and more prevalent in the coming years as food chains create a need for chefs to cook with more local ingredients.” — Scott Bacon, head chef at Magdalena in Baltimore
“I think people will eat more vegetables, both in restaurants and on menus. Whether it’s a flexitarian diet or all-in on plant-based, I think people will be more mindful of eating more and better quality veggies.” — Rob Hurd, executive chef of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado
“I believe vegetables will continue to move to the centre of the plate. Chefs will become more creative with vegetables by studying seasonal availability as well as regions and cuisines around the world where vegetables, not meat or seafood, are the primary ingredients.” — Jonathan Benno, chef of Bar Benno and Benno Restaurants in New York City
“As diners are increasingly more health- and eco-conscious, and as science adapts to produce more sustainable proteins, we’ll continue to see more plant-based menus and options and will see more plant-based comfort foods. The crispy eggplant at Soulmate has been a surprise hit, as an entrée that’s plant-based without sacrifice.” — Rudy Lopez, executive chef of Soulmate in Los Angeles
Preserved ingredients will have more starring roles
“Fermented foods, brining, canning, and pickling in the forefront as opposed to just usually being an accompaniment. We have limitations on supply chains, short supplies, and inflation coming, it’s important now more than ever, if you get a food product, ordering a lot more than usual, use it in its entirety, and preserve as much as possible in order to stretch it out for your menu. Preserving is the best way to ensure you can serve consistently.” — Chad Durkin, chef and owner of Porcos Porchetteria & Small Oven Pastry Shop in Philadelphia
Seeds > nuts
“I believe that seeds will be used more and more to replace nuts such as sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds as well as flaxseed to provide healthy fats in diets.” — Gabriel Kolofon, director of culinary at Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya in Mexico
Potato milk is coming!
“At Pippin Hill, we are always looking for a more ecologically conscious non-dairy offering, and potato milk might just check all the boxes. Allergen-free, cheap to produce, and easier on the environment than other non-dairy alternatives, potato milk is sure to make an impact in 2022.” — Ian Rynecki, executive chef of Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyard in North Garden, Virginia
More katsu for everybody
“I’ve seen the popularity of Japanese dishes grow significantly over the years. We’ve had a lot of fried chicken places pop up around the country, so I’m thinking variations of that, like Japanese panko-fried foods, might increase in demand. The sando has been trending already and from that, I predict we’ll also see more katsu (who doesn’t love fried meat?)––made with either pork or chicken––served by itself, in rice bowls or bento boxes.” — Jeff Chanchaleune, chef and owner of Goro Ramen in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Salad dressings will be better
“We’ve been in a cycle of food that’s seen a lot of nostalgic flavours. While vinaigrettes have had their moment (and will continue to do so), classic, umami-packed salad dressings are making a comeback. Green Goddess and Caesar dressings are two that are upping the ante with nostalgic flavours but with an umami punch.
Think more anchovies, parmesan, dijon, and Worcestershire, plus variations like the one we do at Cane & Table. We’ve given the traditional Green Goddess dressing a makeover with Caribbean flavours like cilantro, avocado, and parsley.” — Alfredo “Fredo” Nogueira, executive chef of CureCo. in New Orleans
Heritage ingredients will take the spotlight
“After almost two years of dining restriction, I believe there will be a new hype to rediscover where ancestral food is derived from. Common staples such as grains, beans, and legumes will take the spotlight with the continuous plant-based craze.” — Ritchard Cariaga, director of culinary and F&B operations at Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel Valley, California
Local caviar is on the menu
“Following the pandemic shutdowns, guests are feeling more comfortable spending a bit more on luxury ingredients. They’re ready to let their hair down! We serve a locally sourced caviar, Cajun caviar, alongside potato chips, homemade creme fraiche, and chives. This service is simple, but it’s anything but basic. It’s my favourite way to serve and enjoy caviar.” — Alfredo “Fredo” Nogueira, executive chef of CureCo. in New Orleans
We’re cooking ‘pantry-to-plate’
“I’m calling the trend for 2022 ‘Pantry to Plate.’ We all had this moment over the past year or two where we got really into cooking, like the deep, scratch-type cooking, making your own starter and then trying sourdough, or baking more often, or trying braising for the first time, or a pan sauce.
Those skills that we learned are not going anywhere—they will stick with us forever, we’ve just gotten smarter about them. I expect the next trend to be using what we have learned cooking but applying it to things we grab from our pantry, from olives to anchovies to delicious canned seafood to new types of extra virgin olive oil.” — Katie Button, CEO and co-founder of Katie Button Restaurants in Asheville
This story first appeared on www.foodandwine.com
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