Trends don’t make their way onto menus across the globe out of nowhere. They start as one-off dishes in upscale restaurants and make their way onto more and more menus in a variety of forms.
Today, we’re rounding out our list of the top 10 new food trends retailers and foodservice companies should be watching. Explore the final 4 flavors we believe have growth potential.
Mamey sapote, or mamey for short (pronounced mah-mey), is often confused with a similar fruit called the sapodilla, but it has a flavor that's all its own – and hard to describe. The fruit, which can range in color from light salmon to deep red depending on the soil, has been compared to a combination of sweet potato, pumpkin, peach, honey, almond, brown sugar, cantaloupe, banana, pear, nutmeg, vanilla, chocolate – let's just say it's hard to put your finger on it.
Mamey is common in Cuba and Miami, where it can be found in milkshakes (batidos), ice cream, paletas, preserves, baked goods, and even wine. Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, with locations in Miami, Las Vegas, and Brooklyn, has featured a Sapote Smash cocktail on the menu, containing bourbon, mamey, lemon juice, and Aperol.
"If one flavor could encapsulate Mexico in a bite, it would be chamoy," said Eater. Chamoy most often refers to the bottled sauce made by adding chili powder to a pickling liquid used to preserve fruit, creating an intensely fruity, salty, sweet, sour, spicy condiment that can be used to make chamoyadas (shaved iced drinks), mangonadas (mango sorbet drinks), paletas, and as a topping for fresh fruit. But chamoy comes in many forms, from chamoy pastes to candies made from the pickled fruits and liquid, and it can be housemade or easily found at retail stores throughout Mexico and the southwestern U.S.
A dive into MenuTrends reveals a variety of uses for chamoy – Mexican street bowls topped with chamoy, salads with chamoy dressing, chamoy-ritas. If you attended Datassential's Foodscape event this year you saw chamoy in action, topping one of the "sandia loca," or crazy watermelons, at breakfast.The over-the-top creations combining fruit, spices, chamoy, and candy are also showing up on menus across the country – they're pure Instagram bait.
Cannabis continues to fly high. It racked up a number of midterm election wins, with Michigan legalizing it recreationally and Utah and Missouri legalizing medical use. Now 33 states in total have legalized cannabis in some form, while Canada is currently working on regulations for full recreational sales to go into effect next year.
This shift is giving rise to a growing retail and foodservice cannabis industry that encompasses everything from cooking classes to high-end edibles to pop-up dinners and restaurants. As more research is done on the cannabis plant, we're also learning new things about terpenes, the oils that are responsible for the flavors and aromas in cannabis.
Now, chefs and product developers are starting to consider those terpene profiles as they craft products and dishes, using a strain with a more lemony profile for a seafood dish, for instance, or a pine-flavored variety in place of gin in a drink or dessert. In April's issue of FoodBytes: Cannabis & CBD, we even covered a "sommelier school" for cannabis – Colorado's Trichome Institute – which specializes in "interpening," or evaluating the plant for quality, variety, and flavor.
Koji is a mold or fungus, specifically, an ancient, white, fluffy mold that is traditionally grown on rice or another grain in China or Japan. It is used to pickle and ferment fruits and vegetables and create umami-rich products like soy sauce, sake, rice vinegars, and miso. It's so important in Japan that it has even been called the "national fungus" of the country. But the current obsession with fermentation, brewing, cooking "hacks," and funkier flavors has led chefs and home hobbyists to push the envelope when using koji.
Chef David Chang uses it to create new takes on miso that swap soybeans for pistachios and chickpeas, while other chefs have made cheese and bread, and distillers have made whiskey. But the most common modern use is on meats and proteins – look up koji rice on sites like Amazon and most of the reviews reference dry-aging meat. Koji cures and tenderizes proteins extremely quickly, creating rich, slightly sweet, intensely savory foods in a fraction of the time it normally takes to dry-age a steak or cure seafood.