Food is a matter of taste. Trends ebb and flow based on what’s happening around the world and what we’re seeing on Instagram that fuels hunger. Below are 19 predictions, including a few that maybe more of a wish, for food and dining in New Orleans—and at large—in 2019.
1. Social justice kitchens. Restaurants hiring people in need of second chances or a leg-up, and generally getting more involved in community projects.
2. Smaller restaurants will work on blurring lines between front and back of house, with staff all paid the same rate (a living wage) and expected to do a bit of everything, from service to bussing, hosting, keeping an eye on dishes, etc.
3. 2018 saw a boom in the opening and passion for plant-based (a kinder, gentler word for vegan) dishes and restaurants. There will be continued growth.
4. CBD (as in cannabidiol) in foods. Following on the heels of Greens to Go (which launched its cbd cake on Instagram and then revealed they will, on request, add cbd oil to salad dressing for a “chill” salad), more restaurants and food businesses will get on the cbd bandwagon. As attitudes toward marijuana change and decriminalization creeps ever closer, chefs will be right there doing pot dinners, and edibles will be everywhere.
5. Chefs as personalities is so 2018. This year, chefs will return to being chefs, wearing the uniform jacket (or a clean, modern version thereof) and focusing less on quirk, more on cook.
6. Cool interior design in restaurants kicked off with the stunning renovation of The Country Club and Jack Rose. Going forward, restaurants will carry through the design esthetic to dishes, flatware, menus and more.
7. The opening of more farmers markets across the metro region suggests more cooking at home, and we’re here for all of it.
8. Instant Pots are hot and a great response to the “I don’t have time to cook” mantra. No excuses.
9. This year we’re going to be eating, talking and Instagramming our love for American Chinese foods, from fat egg rolls to boneless fried chicken, red-rimmed pork fried rice, sweet-and-sour whatever and beyond.
10. Culture club. We love kombucha, sauerkraut, butter and all things cultured and fermented. There’ll be more in 2019.
11. Tahini is the new peanut butter. Evidence Saba, where chef Cara Peterson lusciously pours it over a spiral cut, wood-roasted apple.
12. Complicated cocktails are done. Same for complicated bartenders and wacky personalities. This year we’ll see bars simplifying across the board and upping the number of creative mocktails or low-alcohol offerings.
13. Third-wave immigrant cooking. The first wave of immigrants cooked food from their homeland to feed their fellow immigrants. The second wave was local discovery of immigrant foods and local interpretations. The third wave will be next-generation immigrant kids doing interesting things with their origin foods, including remixes and modern versions. No? Check out Saffron NOLA, Tava or Mint Modern Vietnamese.
14. Breakfast has long been called “the most important meal of the day.” Locally breakfast is now a meal to be had all day and all over town. Hello Molly’s Rise & Shine, French Toast, Wakin’ Bakin’, et al.
15. Everything bagel crunchies were the darling of last year. This year, lemony sumac and zaatar are everywhere—on toast, in oil, tossed into pickling blends and more. Look for an uptick in spice blends including gunpowder, baharat and berbere.
16. Despite the meaty keto diet trend, there is a lot of bread and baking in 2019. Mayhew Bakery has already expanded retail hours, and king cake season has revealed a slew of new bakeries making their stamp (we’re looking at you, tM Breads & Pastries). Look for breads beyond the baguette and brioche; coming from the ovens will be homemade pita, paratha, lavash and all kinds of flatbreads.
17. This will be the year that restaurants finally come to respect and happily accommodate dietary needs. No more gluten-free, allergy or vegan bashing. Chefs get it—they’re not allergic to money—and can hook-up diners. That said, 2019 menus will likely be filled with plenty of dishes to meet a variety of diets.
18. Continuing to be popular: all-day cafés with continuous hours, Wi-Fi, plenty of tables and menus spanning from breakfast to dinner.
19. Social media remains important for restaurants and the food biz. This year more chefs and restaurants will take back control of the chatter, ignoring (instead of responding to) trolls and concentrating on telling their own great food/cooking/community connection stories.