Few other industries cycle through trends as rapidly as the food industry. Beer today, brawn tomorrow. However, it’s not completely ridiculous. Palates tire of the same flavours and cuisines, chefs need new challenges and food ideas, and everyone who’s trying to open their own restaurant needs something new to set themselves apart. In fact, food trends are a useful way to check the industry’s pulse. For example, most of 2018’s food trends are health-related, which provides an interesting insight for restaurateurs. Patrons aren’t just eating for sustenance and pleasure anymore, they’re also eating for longevity.

Here are the biggest food trends for this year:

Snack foods go on diet

Say goodbye to greasy potato chips and say hello to air-fried avocado. Snacks have gone on a low-carb, low-sugar, high-protein and high-good-fat diet. But that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their bite-sized charm or hunger-delaying deliciousness. Look forward to seeing more sriracha roasted cashews, superfood bars, green pea crisps, beetroot chips and fat-free (but still sinfully delicious) banana-based ice cream. It’s all about the joy of snacking with none of the guilt.

Spice up your morning coffee

By now the entire culinary world should be familiar with superfoods – foods that have high concentrations of minerals and nutrients. We’ve juiced them, sous vided them and thrown them in every macro bowl we’ve made. But have you ever considered your morning coffee as an opportunity to squeeze even more superfood goodness into your diet? No? Well, 2018 might just change that. This will be the year of spicing up your coffee or tea with turmeric (an anti-inflammatory), cayenne (promotes circulation and weight loss), hawthorn (boosts heart health) and cloves (a natural antiseptic and germicide).


Ghee or clarified butter has a long and established history in Ayurvedic medicine, Indian cuisine and religious ceremonies on the Indian subcontinent. Essentially, it’s raw milk with the solids boiled off and skimmed away, leaving only the fat behind. It’s lactose-free, a good source of vitamins K, A and E, and rich in vitalising short- and medium-chain fats. Its breakthrough into mainstream cuisine casts it as an excellent alternative to butter. Ghee can be used for frying, as a condiment and in coffee. The benefits of ghee are best enjoyed when it is produced organically from the milk of grass-fed cows.

Poke bowl mania

Firstly, note the spelling and pronunciation – say POH-kay or POH-keh and never put an accent sign above the “e”. Secondly, tread carefully.

Poke (no relation to Pokémon) is a traditional Hawaiian dish that has seen increased popularity in the rest of the US and, in 2018, the rest of the world. However many Hawaiians (coming from a culture fiercely connected to its food) have expressed displeasure at how this dish has been recklessly reinterpreted (and misspelt and mispronounced) in the mainstream. Traditional poke is raw cubed fish served on a bed of hot rice with maui onions, candlenut, seaweed and sea salt. The kind you’re likely to find in your local pan-Asian restaurant might have some unprescribed additions like kimchi and pineapple.

Despite the outrage, poke bowls have over 250 000 tags on Instagram and they’re popping up in menus all over the country. While there’s nothing wrong with sampling foods from different cultures, traditional foods always make tricky food trends. Like I said: tread carefully.

Time for fine casual

You’ve heard of fine dining and fast casual restaurants, now get ready to meet their love child, the fine casual restaurant. Fast casual restaurants came about as a response to the fast food boom. Then patrons started wanting better ingredients and healthier food. Fine casual dining takes it a step further by pairing the gourmet food and atmosphere commonly associated with fine dining establishments with the ease of service and cost structure of fast food restaurants. It sounds like an unsustainable business model, but it has proved quite popular in the US. Locally, restaurants like Chefs in Cape Town and Spek & Bone in Stellenbosch are great examples of successful fine casual dining establishments, which proves that the restaurant industry might be in the midst of another shift.

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Author : Rudi Badenhorst