Must-Have Food Trends for 2016

Food Trends for 2016

Photo courtesy of Powers Studios

Every year, it’s so much fun to see the latest food trends start to emerge. The creativity and mastery is amazing! We always enjoy seeing what’s new and letting it inspire unique menus that can set our events apart. Here are a few of the top emerging food trends for 2016 we’ve been seeing:


  1. When it comes to starches, expect to see ancient grains and Forbidden Rice more often.
  2. With the rise of gluten intolerances and sensitivities, non-wheat noodles and pasta are also becoming more popular.
  3. More and more restaurants are offering house-made specialty condiments.
  4. Locally-grown, heirloom vegetables continue to grow in popularity.
  5. The use of exotic and unusual herbs, fruits, and vegetables is on the rise.
  6. Poke – a Hawaiian dish of raw fish marinated in soy sauce served atop rice – is here to stay.


  1. Ethnic flavors are “in” in a big way, particularly focused on being truly authentic. This even trickles into artisan cheese plates featuring options like paneer, queso fresco, and halloumi.
  2. Expect to see more African dishes on menus this year.
  3. Popular preparation methods include pickling, fermenting, smoking, and fire roasting.
  4. Street food-inspired dishes will start to take center stage both in appetizers and main courses.
  5. “Old World” flavors are emphasized, though often with a unique twist.


  1. Craft beer, especially locally sourced and even house-brewed.
  2. Unique specialty cocktails, often featuring non-traditional liquors.
  3. Non-alcoholic choices surfacing include gourmet lemonade and artisan, house-made soft drinks alongside specialty iced teas.


  1. Local sourcing is taken to another level, emphasizing natural ingredients and environmental sustainability. Food branded specifically to a farm or estate is on the rise, as is the number of kitchens growing their own produce on site.
  2. Meat quality is important, with artisan butchers (introducing new cuts of meat) and sourcing (free-range, grass-fed, and sustainable) being valued.
  3. Waste is a big deal in the restaurant industry, and it’s becoming more and more popular for kitchens to focus on reducing their waste.

If you’re looking for inspiration for your upcoming event, let these 2016 food trends be your guide! As you plan, though, here are a few tips on how to incorporate trending food into a well-thought-out menu:

  1. Think about your guests first. While you might have adventurous tastes, not everyone there might. Also be aware of any dietary restrictions or needs among your invitees.
  2. Mix and match new with old. Instead of choosing a menu entirely comprised of trendy food and beverage options, choose one truly unique dish and keep the rest more familiar.

What stands out to you among the top food trends for 2016? If you have a menu in mind for your event, we’d love to hear about it and work with you!