Chefs' Council: What will be the breakout food trend of 2016?

Our Chefs' Council shares the trends that will be shaping their menus in 2016.

Has Sriracha reached its saturation point or will it keep going strong? How about gluten-free foods? To find out what’s trending on menus in noncommercial foodservice, FoodService Director surveyed our 50 Chefs’ Council members—a cross-section of culinarians from all sectors of the industry—to see what items their customers are demanding and what will be on their menus in the coming year. This pool of experts literally has its fingers in the cooking pot at their facilities, making them uniquely qualified to share what they believe are today’s hottest trends and those they expect will be bubbling up in the near future. As foodservice directors are planning 2016 menus, these are the items to keep top of mind to stay ahead of the curve, from breakfast, snacking, global cuisines, cooking techniques, flavor mashups and more. 

“For us in the C&U segment, I think it will be creative breakfast sandwiches.”

—Bill Claypool, Vanderbilt University

“All global cuisines.”

—Eric Ernest, University of Southern California

“Anything eggless.”

—Tracey MacRae, University of Washington

“Alternative pestos. Currently, we are featuring a kale pesto that is nut-free.”

—Janna Traver McCann, Kansas University

“Sriracha will continue to shine.”

—Gregory Gefroh, University of North Dakota

“Offering a large assortment of homemade condiments for your table.”

—Darla Mehrkens, Carilion Clinic

“Fusion; I think pairing two very different ethnicities is going to continue to grow and thrive.”

—Jennifer Leamons,  Stanly Regional Medical Center

“Grandma’s cooking!!! Housemade comfort food, but in a healthy way.”

—Callie Fowler, Union Public Schools

“Tunisian cuisine; [it] melds African, Italian and Middle-Eastern cuisines.”

—Eric Eisenberg, Swedish Health Services

“Quick service and mobile food—people have no time!!!”

—Drew Patterson, Ohio State Wexner Medical Center

“Breakfast without eggs.”

—Craig Mombert, Davidson College

“Cancer-preventing ingredients visible in QSRs, which will drive them also in smaller operations and foodservice as a whole.”

—Aatul Jain, Saint Clare’s Health System


—Dewey McMurrey, Texas Tech University

“Global tacos.”

—Mickey Sellard, Golden Living

“Hearty Asian/Hispanic bowls.”

—Jose Martinez, University of California, Berkeley 

“Maybe with the egg shortage there will be more innovative, nonegg-based breakfast-menu items.”

—William Brizzolara, North Carolina State University

“People want more fresh and organic products and healthy items.”

—Jose Zuluaga, St. Andrews Estates North (ACTS Retirement-Life Communities)

“Noodle bars, rich broths and a breakout of eggs after the avian-flu crisis is over.”

—Bill Laychur, The Pennsylvania State University


—Cameron Clegg, Parkhurst Dining at Highmark

“Ramen and ingredient declaration.”

—Craig Tarrant, Compass Group supporting Microsoft Real Estate and Facilities

“Underutilized fish species.”

—Ron DeSantis, Yale University

“Spicy Latin flavors.”

—Eric Cartwright, University of Missouri

“Locally grown [produce].”

—John Andrews, Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services

“In K-12 foodservice, the big trend will be made-to-order options, [including] deli sandwiches … paninis and flatbreads.”

—Eli Huff, The Salt Group

“Regional American.”

—Daniel Skay, Castle Rock Adventist Hospital

“I see growth in the ‘know your food’ trend and food free from processing. I think home gardens will explode, if anything.”

—Jason Morse, 5280 Culinary, LLC

“Seed power: chia, flax, hemp ...”

—Brent Trudeau, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD

“Free-range beef and chicken; hearty grains.”

—Stephen Plescha, Pennswood Village

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