Every year I look forward to Flavor & The Menu's Top 10 Trends. This year's crop included eye-opening Seacuterie and intriguing Next Level Texture, just two restaurant trends that show how consumers seek to be wowed and have fun adventure at the table. As a proud member of the magazine's expert panel interviewed for trend insights, I share a few of my observations that were included in this year's round-up.

·         Next Level Texture: Younger consumers are driving this trend in their quest for new craveable sensory thrills that bring them back for more. Of course, all diners are benefiting from more exciting dishes--often bowls--that include toothsome grains, creamy sauces, tender vegetables and crunchy toppings.

·         Indian Mash-Ups: Innovative dishes from chefs with roots in Indian culture are in greater supply than ever, showcasing complex and inviting flavor profiles and creative applications. A favorite of mine is the Manchurian Cauliflower that was served by chef Preeti Mistry at the now sadly shuttered Juhu Beach Club in Oakland, CA. Preeti continues exploring the intersection of Indian cuisine elements married with familiar food forms, such as pizza, at her new spot, Navi Kitchen, happily located near CCD Innovation's offices in Emeryville. A terrific recipe for this dish is found in Preeti's new cookbook Juhu Beach Club, co-written by food writer extraordinaire Sarah Henry.

·         Hummus & Beyond: Dips, spreads and other condiments made from vegetables are proliferating on menus, adding wholesome goodness, gorgeous color and great taste to toasts, appetizers, sandwiches and main dishes. We believe people are ready to dip into something unique and fun in these plant-obsessed times.

·         Sorghum Soars: I am a long-time fan of sorghum syrup, a molasses-like condiment often found in the South. Sorghum the grain, however, is appearing in many more forms today: milled into flour, popped like mini popcorn and cooked like rice. This traditional grain has been found in gluten-free flour blends in the last decade yet is now standing out on its own in many nutritious and creative ways.

·         On the horizon, I expect all things sesame to continue attracting attention this year, including black sesame ice cream, an example included in our Asian Treats & Sweets trend, one of CCD Innovation's own 2018 Food Trends That Matter.

All together, these trends show significant influence from Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients (yogurt, falafel and Eastern Mediterranean are other trends), fun with food (tacos, playful cocktails) and our never-ending love of blending global flavors. A delicious year awaits! Read More >>