2016’s top restaurant trends, according to chefs

Canadian craft brewers are getting creative with the classic recipe of malt, water, hops and yeast. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

TORONTO – The craft beer craze isn’t going away anytime soon, according to a survey of nearly 500 Canadian chefs.

For the second year in a row, craft and micro brews have taken the top spot on the Canadian Chef Survey of the 10 hottest restaurant trends in the country.

Millennials and their taste for artisanal products have helped boost craft beer’s popularity, according to Donna Dooher, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada.

READ MORE: Food trends for 2016 put toast and veggies in starring roles

“They want to know the story,” she said. “They want to know the craft behind the beer, it’s locally sourced water, all those things that are very important touch points for them and their decision-making process when it comes to purchases.”

Story continues below advertisement

Charcuterie and house-cured meats ranked second on the trends list released Wednesday.

“I thought it had peaked out a few years ago, but it’s still going strong,” she said. “It’s coming back to the use of the secondary cuts of meat so I think it is tied to the craft, the artisan, the secondary cuts and that’s what’s keeping it very fresh on the list.”

READ MORE: 2016 trends: What to expect in food, fitness, fashion and travel

House-made condiments and sauces topped a separate list of top 10 up-and-comers and also ranked sixth among the top trends.

Dooher said chefs are honouring the roots of Canadian cuisine by experimenting with pickling and condiments as well as food smoking, the No. 5 hottest trend.

“A lot of those techniques are being brought back into the mainstream kitchen and smoking, of course, was a technique that was used and now we’re seeing a lot of young chefs adapting this technique and bringing it to life on their menus,” she said.

Micro-distilled/artisan liquor is No. 5 on the up-and-comer list, but Dooher expects it to be one of the top three trends in 2017.

Those surveyed also cited inexpensive and underused cuts of meat, like beef cheek, brisket, pork shoulder and skirt steak, which ranked eighth on the hot trends list.

Story continues below advertisement

“We see these secondary cuts are actually packed with flavour and nutrition and people are recognizing there is a lot of value to them,” said Dooher. “That and also driven by the high cost of beef that we’re experiencing today.”

READ MORE: The only superfoods you need to eat in 2016

Other items on the top trend list include ethnic sauces, locally sourced foods, gluten-free/food allergy conscious, organic produce and leafy greens.

The up-and-comers list features several first-timers: alternative pulse proteins such as pigeon peas, cranberry beans and black beluga lentils, chef-driven fast casual concepts, ethnic cheeses and house-made/artisan pickles.

Almost 500 professional chefs across the country participated in the survey between Jan. 11 and Feb. 1.

The survey comes out ahead of the Feb. 28 to March 1 Restaurants Canada trade show in Toronto.

Click to play video: 'Food trends for 2016'
Food trends for 2016

Sponsored content