Vermont Chefs Predict Trends of 2018January 10, 2018
What will the new year bring to your dining experience? We asked the Vermont Fresh Network to weigh in on trends and predictions they think will grow or take over in 2018.
Here's what the experts say...
1 - Goodbye white tablecloths
This doesn't mean your dining experience will be less spectacular - just maybe a little less formal. (We also hear pink tablecloths are the next big thing.)
It isn't the first time we've seen this trend cycle through - notable in 2018 is the central role of local food in the shift, not just here but nationwide. VFN restaurants are definitely embracing the range of forms local food can take, from fancy formal event to a quick bite. . . and we think more ways to enjoy local are always better! Figuring out the balance from a business perspective isn't always easy, but that's part of turning something from a trend to a reliable option. Take it from Stefano, chef and owner at Morse Block Deli in Barre:
"A trend that I am seeing in New England as a whole, is making local food more accessible to the general public. More and more Chef-owned establishments (insert shameless plug here) are getting away from “fine dining” models and making more approachable fare at a more reasonable price for the masses. It's a tricky balance, as I am finding out, to create dishes that can still be profitable using this model. That being said, it is also quite rewarding to serve people who would not normally have access to (or be able to afford) fresh, healthful food made from nutrient-dense local ingredients."
Look for more creative solutions to this challenge in 2018!
2 - Potatoes
There's a reason you can live for a long time on potatoes and potatoes alone - the humble spud is incredibly nutritious. We're predicting the rise of heirloom varieties and dishes that feature the potato in fun, interesting ways (look out Needhams, Vermont pastry chefs are a creative group).
Chef Vanessa Davis at the Copper Grouse in Manchester predicts a trend of Nordic Cuisine in general - potatoes could fit right in. Also, with Peruvian cuisine. Irish cuisine. Eastern European cuisine. New England cuisine (let's not abandon our roots. . .) Did we mention that the potato is incredibly nutritious? And diverse, with over 4,500 native varieties still grown.
3 - Clean, spirit-forward cocktails
Why not, when Vermont distilleries make spirits worth showcasing!
4 - Peak CBD
While we're having another will they/won't they moment with marijuana legalization - CBD will continue to grow it's home in the marketplace. You'll be seeing many more CBD beverages, specialty products, and menu items to come.
5 - Less meat, or "meat on the side"
Here's what Kortnee Bush, owner of Butch + Babe's in Burlington had to say about that: "I think people are looking for more veggie heavy offerings. We love meat at Butch + Babe's, but I think more and more people are thinking & eating like Michael Pollan - 'Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.'"
And the vegetarian offerings at VFN restaurants are spectacular! Check them out in our latest round-up.
Among the vegetarian delights, we predict seeing more vegan dishes in 2018 - not to eliminate cheese but to clear a place in our palate and pocketbook for Vermont cheeses to truly shine. Similar to the way some consumers are using a part-time vegetarian diet to support a more conscientious approach to meat, we see excellent vegan options and the finest in local cheese having a similarly compatible relationship.
6 - Tipping the kitchen
Creative solutions for even-ing out the pay discrepancy between front of the house and back of the house staff without compromising waitstaff. Even with this new legislation coming down the pipeline, Vermont restaurateurs want to keep it fair for everyone.
7 - Beverage Collaborations
We haven't yet seen peak beer, wine, cider, mead or spirit production in Vermont - the industry is still growing. And these folks love a good collaboration! We predict that in 2018, we'll see more cider washed cheeses, spent-grain baking, custom labeling, and barrel exchanges between industries. Bring it on.
8 - Esoteric ingredients - grown in Vermont!
We're seeing a lot of new products hit the market from ambitious growers. Saffron, ginger, crickets, wonder berries - coming to a menu near you!