Association releases 2019 “What’s Hot” survey, available for download

Washington – Today the National Restaurant Association released its findings that plant-based ingredients, including cannabis and CBD, and zero-waste cooking will be the hottest culinary trends of 2019.

The annual survey, a barometer of U.S. food and beverage trends, found that 77 percent of the chefs, all members of the American Culinary Federation, identified cannabis/CBD-infused drinks as the No. 1 trend. In addition, 76 percent of them tapped cannabis/CBD-infused food as the second most popular trend. Chefs who participated in the survey said infusing foods with the ingredients could create unique cuisine opportunities and potential new markets for experiential dining occasions.

The new research, released in full today, is part of the National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot survey. The results forecast food, beverage, and culinary concept trends for the year ahead. The annual survey looked at the responses of approximately 650 professional chefs.

As chefs and restaurateurs consider incorporating the ingredients into menu items, the Association’s officials stress that cannabis and CBD are federally controlled substances and laws governing their use vary from state to state. As a result, they said, “Operators are urged to follow all laws, including applicable federal, state and local laws that apply when selling or using those items at their restaurants.”

Third on this year’s list of overall trends is zero-waste cooking, which calls for chefs and restaurateurs to reduce the amount of food waste created during the preparation of menu items to prevent it from ending up in landfills. It is also the second most popular concept trend. Chefs can achieve this through nose-to-tail cooking, incorporating “ugly” produce into menu items, and recycling or composting, among other things, the chefs in the survey said.

“Zero-waste cooking is a sign of the times,” said Hudson Riehle, the Association’s senior vice president of research. “Millennial and Gen Z customers in particular expect the restaurants they patronize to be more eco-friendly, so sustainability is high on their list. It’s also good for business. Not only is food waste reduction more cost effective, it creates brand loyalty and helps protect the planet. It’s a big win for everyone.”

Other trends that made this year’s list include:

  • Globally inspired breakfast foods, which more than 69 percent of the chefs said would be a top food trend
  • Hyper-local foods made from produce grown in restaurant gardens, or house-made items, were popular with 67 percent of chefs
  • Veggie-centric cuisine, a favorite with 67 percent of the survey’s participants
  • New cuts of beef, like oyster, Merlot, and Vegas Strip steaks, which 67 percent of respondents hailed as a top choice
  • Plant-based sausages and burgers, which 64 percent of the chefs cited as a trend
  • Locally sourced meats and seafood, popular with more than 60 percent of the chefs polled, and
  • Veggie-carb substitutes, like zucchini “Zoodle” spirals, riced cauliflower, and noodles made from beets, were popular with three out of five chefs

The chefs also tagged overnight oats, anise-flavored cocktails, and pretzels in desserts as trends that have come and gone.

Download our 2019 What’s Hot Culinary Survey

About the National Restaurant Association
Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises more than one million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.1 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and in partnership with 52 state associations, we advocate on our industry’s behalf in states and locations across the nation. We operate the industry’s leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe) and unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart). For more information, visit Restaurant.org and find us on, FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

About the American Culinary Foundation 
The American Culinary Federation Inc., established in 1929, is the standard of excellence for chefs in North America. With more than 17,500 members spanning more than 150 chapters nationwide, ACF is the leading culinary association offering educational resources, training, apprenticeship and programmatic accreditation. In addition, ACF operates the most comprehensive certification program for chefs in the United States, with the Certified Executive Chef®, Certified Sous Chef®, Certified Executive Pastry Chef® and Certified Culinary Educator® designations accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation is home to ACF Culinary Team USA, the official representative for the United States in major international culinary competitions. For more information, visit www.acfchefs.org. Find ACF on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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