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2019 Culinary Trends: What Our Experts are Talking About

Our experts are pretty passionate about produce. Here’s what they have to say on a few 2019 Culinary Trends they are reading about, eating, and seeing in the industry.

Targeting Specific Diets

Lisa Pettineo, Digital Marketing Manager

The healthy eating trend has been around for years. Like Dan says below, the momentum of whole food, plant-based diets shows no signs of slowing down.

We live in a fast-paced world. Major quick-service chains are rising to the customer demand of whole food, plant-based eating. Plant-based ingredients are becoming prominent on menus, and these menu items are proudly advertised to lure health-conscious customers in.

The symbol notation on menus with specific calorie counts, a healthier choice, or vegan has been around for years. What we are now starting to see are menus specifically notating specific diets, such as plant-based, Paleo, or Keto menu options.

Another burgeoning trend is further breaking down plant-based diets into sub-categories, e.g., WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) and the Plant Paradox, focusing on avoiding “lectins”, which addresses gluten and inflammatory plant-defense proteins.

Consumers are realizing that a diet focusing more on plants has been proven as healthier for people, and for the environment. But the environmental impact of moving produce to the center of the plate is also shifting to the forefront.

In short, large quick-service chains are where people eat. The more these chains embrace it, the clean eating, whole ingredient, and plant-based food “trend” may in fact just be the start of a long-term paradigm shift towards how consumers think about food.


2019 Culinary Trends: We are seeing more and more menus featuring items that cater to specific diets.

Local and Plant-Based Plans to Stay

Chef Daniel Snowden, Director of Culinary Development for FreshPoint Central Florida

Local/Hyper Local

2018 has seen the rise of many few trends, some may continue into 2019, some will simply fade away. Local/Hyper local sourcing continues to remain a leading food trend. The 2018 NRA Culinary Forecast listed Hyper Local sourcing as the top concept trend, with locally sourced produce registering at number 8. The local trend is showing no signs of slowing down, with major retailers embracing the concept. Much as organic did, local is becoming a brand icon, as the #10 concept trend was farm/estate branded items. Lauren talks more about that in the next article.

Plant-Based Menus

This is an exciting growth segment. Kroger commissioned a study in which 15% of the respondents identified as either a vegetarian or vegan. In addition, they note that 31% of consumers participated at least one meat free days per week, so the flexitarian trend looks to be here to stay. This increase is counter to what the trend and data indicated for many years. We are now seeing this expanding into some interesting segments, with high-tech meatless burgers becoming more mainstream. The NRA Culinary Forecast listed plant based menus as the #4 food trend of 2018, again, this shows no signs of slowing down.


This is an untapped, yet very exciting segment. The interest in craft cocktails is at an all-time high, with bartenders/mixologists treating the once lowly mixed drink as a culinary concept. Edible flowers, unusual leaves and greens, exotic spices and seasonal produce are now featured in the bar with as much aplomb as they are in the finest of kitchens. The zero waste philosophy has now been embraced in the bar, with mixologists using every bit of the produce items in their creations. Skins, seeds, stems, and even roots are now being utilized in numerous bars, with locally sourced items being of particular interest.


2019 Culinary Trends: The interest in craft cocktails is at an all-time high

Pacific Rim Influences

Chef Ron Smith, Director of Culinary Services for FreshPoint South Texas

2019 is seeing attention focused on trending healthy diets, such as Keto and Whole 30. Craft cocktails are featuring a fresh and local produce twist and finally, my culinary passion, fusion dishes showcasing Pacific Rim cuisines.

The really beautiful thing about the 2019 trends is the underlying themes intertwined in all the dishes: healthy, local, and creative. Whether it be entrees, appetizers, or cocktails—one, if not all, of these themes will be involved. So grab a cocktail, pull up a chair and taste the flavor that will be 2019.

Pacific Rim Ingredients Combined with Traditional Cooking Methods

As a chef with European, Polynesian, and Japanese DNA, this trend has been my culinary passion. Close your eyes and envision the crashing of the waves, a cool breeze coming off the ocean and the beauty of a lush island tropical rainforest…this is the birthplace of the cuisine called Pacific Rim—a cuisine of freshness, flavor, and innovation with touches of all the cultures around the Pacific Ocean. So much of the creativity, no matter the culinary style, that goes into this cuisine is based on using fresh local ingredients readily available on the closest island or coastal region.

Being ingredient driven, the typical Pacific Rim kitchen pantry would be stocked with an abundance of seafood, wild game, and local domestic animals to tropical fruits, farm fresh vegetables, and flavorful herbs and spices. Now combine these ingredients with fire and steam with a traditional cooking method such as the Imu (an underground oven used is some Hawaiian preparation) enhance dishes as rich in flavors as the local scenery is intense.


2019 Culinary Trends: Pacific Rim ingredients combined with traditional cooking methods.

CBD and Fermentation

Chef Francy Deskin, Specialties Coordinator for FreshPoint South Florida

CBD in Cuisine

It’s not a new trend that people want to be healthier. And also not that new, is the trend towards healthier lifestyles that involves CBD (cannabidiol). CBD is the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis. Ongoing research suggests a positive impact on conditions related to anxiety, neuropathy, and pain. The new twist that we can expect to see more of in the coming year, is finding CBD not only at medical dispensaries, but in our cuisine as another angle in healthy living.

As consumers become more untrusting pharmaceutical drugs as a solution, this is leading them to lifestyle changes including a whole foods diet with a dash of CBD. It is already happening on the fringes, for example at farmer’s markets one can find CBD enhanced kombucha. The December 20, 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp, which means the USDA will regulate hemp and will no longer be considered a controlled substance. This went into effect January 1, 2019.

Kombucha producer GT’s Living Foods recently announced the release of Dream Catcher CBD Sparkling Water line. This product contains 25 mg of CBD per 10 ounce bottle. It also contains coffee berry and boasts “a focused calmness.”

South Florida restaurant Pizza City has recently started selling CBD topped pizza and smoothies with it as an added ingredient.

As cannabis slowly separates itself from pot as an illegal drug and the stigma falls away, we will see this item more and more woven into thoughtful cuisine. Due to its cost, it will drive top line revenues and increase average plate sales.

Hand in Hand with Fermented Foods

Many of the same trail blazers who are coaxing CBD from the fringes more into the mainstream are the same ones who have already introduced fermented foods onto grocery shelves and restaurant dishes. Fermented foods have existed in just about every culture as the original form of food preservation (think sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir.) Adventurous chefs are finding themselves digging through their grandmother’s cook books and YouTube’ing recipes for scratch versions of these recipes to add health, nutrition, and most importantly FLAVOR as today’s consumers attempt to build their gut population with positive probiotics and living foods for improved immunity and digestive health.


2019 Culinary Trends: Adventurous chefs are incorporating fermentation recipes to add the health benefits of probiotics and tangy flavor to dishes.

Our team has spoken. How many of these trends do you anticipate incorporating into your menu?



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