What’s Hot in 2019

The New Year Brings New Food Trends

It's a New Year and that means food experts are busy predicting what will be hot in 2019. Everyone from chefs to food writers, supermarket owners and industry experts and insiders have put together their lists forecasting will be on our plates in 2019. A quick survey of those lists from some of the major players—The New York Times food writer Kim Severson; Food & Wine's survey of 13 chefs,—reveals some common threads, including fermented foods, plant-based entrées, community compassion and more.

Let's begin with the fad of fermented foods, which reflect our focus on digestive health as well as our interest in foods that are fermented and pickled such as kimchi and sauerkraut. Severson predicts that Americans “can expect more ways to ingest probiotics and prebiotics and foods designed to improve the bacterial health of your intestinal tract, according to several grocery store chains and wellness market analysts,” in her New York Times article “A Peek at Your New Plate: How You'll Be Eating in 2019.” She foresees that we'll be eating salad with kombucha in our dressings and smoothies made with kefir.

Fans of Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen know that this popular restaurant serves nourishing and delicious food made with fermented and pickled ingredients. The healthful Kimchi Fried Rice, for instance, is a delectable combo of fried brown rice with kimchi, snap peas and baby bok choy topped with a fried organic egg. The Salmon Donburi includes pickled watermelon radish with Japanese-style Atlantic salmon over brown rice with snap peas and an egg.

Sweetwater is well ahead of another forecasted trend in the food world, that of community consciousness. In the wake of chef José Andrés' Nobel Peace Prize nomination for feeding Puerto Ricans devastated by Hurricane Maria, other chefs and restaurants will demonstrate more concern and compassion for their employees and communities this year. Andrés' nomination demonstrates the “capability our industry has to improve the lives in the communities we serve,” chef Thomas Boemer told Food & Wine's Clarrisa Buch in her article, “These Will Be the 11 Biggest Restaurant Trends in 2019. “We can assemble ourselves to help others...”

Lucky for us, Sweetwater has long worked to help others and even has a page on its website devoted to community, explaining that it invests “in the businesses and organizations that keep Santa Fe progressive, thriving and dedicated to serving each other and our environment.” For the month of January, for example, 2% of cash pay proceeds will be donated to the Mountain Center, which is dedicated to transforming lives and strengthening communities in New Mexico.

Also in 2019, plants are predicated to play a starring role and not just as a vegetarian option. “Substantial vegetable entrées will become a fixture on restaurant menus, in the way that alternatives to dairy creamers became standard at coffee bars a few years ago,” Severson writes. “Many diners have started to eat less red meat or abandon animal protein altogether, whether for health, environmental or ethical reasons. A few corporations have banned meat consumption on their campuses. In Los Angeles, a member of the City Council this month proposed a law that would require a substantial vegan protein entree be available at movie theaters and other large entertainment centers.”

Joseph Wrede is no stranger to placing plants in the spotlight on his menu at Joseph's of Santa Fe. He's known for his artistry in working with vegetables in such dishes the Warm-Charred Ratatouille, which brings together multiple plants—Swiss chard, eggplant, smoked cherry tomatoes and zucchini with a goat's milk ricotta gnudi and warm tomato vinaigrette. His signature Vegetable Napoleon makes an excellent plant-centric entrée, with layers of roasted root vegetable, cardamom and espresso-dusted phyllo and a sherry beurre blanc. And the pub menu offers a killer vegetable enchilada as well.

It may be wishful thinking, nevertheless Food & Wine predicts phoneless dining as a trend this year, and that means “(b)reaking bread with your friends without your phone,” said chef and restaurateur Marc Forgione. “Along these lines, trying to figure out interactive or shared dishes to make people interact more.” If it can be accomplished, this trend would revolutionize the way we dine in restaurants and reconnect us at the table.

Speaking of revolutions, have you been served by a salad robot in your travels yet? If not, it may happen this year, especially in airports and hospitals where it's a challenge to find fresh food 24 hours a day. In Boston, there's already a salad robot restaurant called Spyce, created by four MIT grads. Here, you can place your order on a kiosk screen and then watch as robots prepare your custom salad in about three minutes.

One place you won't meet a salad robot is at Vinaigrette, where human chefs assemble an array of fresh and fantastic salads using produce that's mostly grown on owner Erin Wade's farm in Nambe. The restaurant's food waste feeds farm animals or is composted back to the land to create healthy soil. This reflects another 2019 trend in which restaurants demonstrate “they care about the whole system and story of food, including the environment, farmworkers, animal welfare and inclusion in the workplace,” Sara Brito, founder and president of the Good Food 100, told the New York Times. Once upon a time, this was America's food story and it's encouraging to see old traditions and foodways such as these brought back as new trends. Here's to healthy, happy dining in 2019!