Edibles, 'simple food' and plant-based eating: Andrew Coppolino's food trends for 2019
Less alcohol, less meat and less food waste predicted by local chefs and restaurateurs
With a new year ahead of us, it's time for a look at food trends that we will likely be seeing this year.
I asked a few chefs and food entrepreneurs in the area what they anticipate seeing in the industry — their answers ranged from a variety of plant-based foods to non-alcoholic craft cocktails.
So here's to eating and drinking in 2019!
"Without a doubt, cannabis in food will be a major trend in food this year," according to Eli Silverthorne, an instructor at the Stratford Chefs School.
At Kitchener's Relish Cooking Studio, co-owner Donna-Marie Pye is mulling over how to work with an ingredient that will have a significant impact in the industry.
"This will take some work on our part," Pye said of the decision. "We're not sure we want to go there, but customers have asked about it."
You can expect to see cannabis in baked goods, chocolate, candies and salad dressings. Look for edibles in cocktails and even cannabis-infused water too.
The trend is not without concerns, of course, in terms of safety and keeping cannabis chocolates and gummy bears out of the hands of children.
Plant-based dining, healthy eating and less alcohol
Overall, plant-based dining could be the most significant and growing phenomenon in restaurants across the country.
At Beertown in Cambridge, Waterloo, London and Burlington, vegan menus implemented this fall have been well-received, according to Charcoal Group Corporate Executive Chef Todd Clarmo.
"I think that more health-conscious menus will be the number one focus for restaurants in 2019. That's vegan, gluten-free and healthy living," Clarmo said.
Nick Benninger of Fat Sparrow Group agrees — in one word: "Vegan."
As such, he's planning events that feature four-course vegan menus and non-alcoholic craft cocktails for his Uptown 21 restaurant in Waterloo.
At beer stores and the LCBO, a wide array of non-alcoholic drinks are available, and Benninger said that will soon become a prominent aspect of the industry.
"I'm excited about this trend," he said. "It's not just a Shirley Temple, but a craft cocktail free of booze and just as interesting and thoughtful."
Reducing food waste
Canada has among the world's highest per capita food loss and waste in the world, according to a report by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
The industry's concern with waste has already seen many local restaurants stop using straws and reduce or eliminate other kinds of single-use waste. Many customers simply demand it.
If you need to explain the food on my plate to me when it's set in front of me, good luck- Charcoal Group Corporate Executive Chef Todd Clarmo
At Relish, Pye sees home cooks more and more interested in preventing waste.
She refers to it as cooking "scrappy," which reduces what you throw away and can save you money. "How can you make better use of food scraps, bones and leftovers?"
The trend to waste reduction and cooking with "scraps" has entered the brewing industry too. In Toronto, you can find beer brewed with surplus sourdough bread with sales proceeds going to a Toronto food bank.
Simple food and techniques
How we cook could change too.
Pye said Instant Pot and slow cookers will be popular. She also said that home cooks want to learn the basics of cooking, from fundamentals to immersing themselves in one particular style of cooking or baking.
In restaurants, food will be simple and more recognizable too, according to Benninger.
"The last few years, it's been a trend to take an ingredient as far away from its natural state as possible. Think Parmesan gel, for instance," he said.
Clarmo says he embraces simple and approachable food.
"It's not that people don't like or want great, interesting food, but their attention span is diminishing, including mine," he said. "If you need to explain the food on my plate to me when it's set in front of me, good luck."