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Our Writers Predict Hits & Misses for 2019: Part 5

Our Writers Predict Hits & Misses for 2019: Part 5

Photo: In 2019, get ready for small-scale robotics in the kitchen like TOMI Chicago’s sushi robot, which cranks out 350 maki rolls an hour. (Photo by: TOMI Chicago)


Mindy Kolof’s Top 10 trends include small-scale robotics, food as medicine and dark sweeteners like burnt caramel.

The more complex the subject matter, the better Mindy likes to break it down and communicate it with passion. Twenty-plus years of experience translates to writing about every type of culinary trend, cutting-edge products and visionary foodservice leaders. Her favorite mashup: the intersection of health, wellness and food. Here are Mindy’s Top 10 predictions for 2019.

Food as medicine

This trend will continue to expand as diners look for foods with more than a health halo, but an actual wellness function (i.e. fermented foods for probiotics). Also included in this are meals specially tailored to meet the needs of keto, paleo, gluten-free and vegan diners; and for Boomers, foods that enhance cognitive and physical function. Also part of this are nutritionist chefs.

High time to look at cannabis or hemp-inspired dishes

Couldn’t resist that, but I’m serious about this trend as more states legalize marijuana, opening the door to innovation on the dining side.

Plant-based dining

There’s plenty of room to grow, and operators who capitalize on the trend with unusual flavors, dishes (seaweed apps, umami-rich mushrooms and healthy swap dishes in the vein of cauliflower crust pizza fit in here) and a sustainable/healthy ethos will make great strides with millennial diners.

Connected to the plate

Get ready for small-scale robotics and smarter-than-ever Bluetooth technology in the kitchen; customer-centric apps that combine reservations, payment, complete demographic profile, review function and future promos in one; digital outreach even more specific and targeted than current geo-fencing approach. Blockchain’s time has finally arrived, giving smaller restaurant owners access to traceability capabilities previously beyond reach.

Alternative proteins

Black beans, lentils, peas, rice, seeds, chickpea, and yes, insects!

Unusual seafood

Sustainable, more adventurous, and at times, more economical, offerings such as squid, cuttle-fish, geoduck, roe and uni will rule the waves.

Global sights on

We’re not nearly done with Mexican, Asian, Israeli, Mediterranean or Indian, but even more world cuisines will start to crop up or take hold, including West Africa (Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Mali), Vietnamese and Fillipino.

Dark is lighting up the menu

Dark sweeteners like burnt caramel, dark honey, dark maple, dark sorghum syrup, etc. are on way.

A night to remember

Superseding the convenience of meal kits, takeout and to-go retail food bars means giving customers increasingly compelling reasons to choose dining out. Note that this does not have to mean elaborate game setups or entertainment, but extending hospitality so genuine that diners feel perpetually nurtured, pampered and thoroughly welcome.

Non-celebrity chefs

While the high-profile, James Beard Award-winning superstar will always draw crowds, there’s a real opportunity for other chefs to make a difference in their local circles of influence, with efforts that speak to wellness, sustainability and humanitarian needs. This includes the continued rise of the female chef, who will find even more acceptance in 2019.


  • Author: Mindy Kolof
  • Posted: December 03, 2018
  • Categories: Trending Now
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