Eat Your Insects, and Other Ways to Follow 2019’s Top Food Trends

Benchmark, a global hospitality company, today released its Top 10 Dining Trends for 2019. The annual roundup is based on insights from executive chefs and culinary experts at the company's 80 luxury hotels, resorts and restaurants. "Food and beverage is an ever-evolving realm of experiences," said Patrick Berwald, Benchmark's vice president of food and beverage. "The opportunity for us is not only to be ahead of the trend but to understand who tomorrow's customer will be, what fulfills their needs and how our properties can be ready to meet that demand."

Here's what to expect in 2019.
 
1. Tea Parties. While three cups of tea are consumed worldwide for every cup of coffee, it's only lately that coffee drinkers in the United States are dramatically becoming fans of the other brew. This is not a new trend, but what is new is how people are beginning to think of tea with the same reverence as coffee due to its many varieties, applications and benefits. One's local coffee roaster might soon have a new neighbor in the form of a "tea bar." Craft tea blending, nitro tea on tap and even tea cocktails will start to proliferate on Main Street.
 
2. Meat Lovers and Others. Not yet available to buy commercially, "heme" (from the Greek word for "blood") is at the cutting edge of food science and is a possible stepping stone to a more environmentally sustainable meat and protein alternative. Tech-food companies are using it to bring a meaty quality to their wheat and potato-protein burger with the "bloodiness" of meat cooked rare. If you still enjoy good old-fashioned beef, select steak restaurants will be expanding their repertoires to include new cuts like Vegas Strip steak (from the shoulder area), merlot cut (from the heel) and bavette (the bottom part of sirloin known as flap meat).
 
3. Good Gut Bacteria. While big-brand "kombucha" (fermented tea) has cemented itself in the new age of alternative beverages, consumers will soon see various styles of home-grown kombucha coming out of boutique/lifestyle hotels and chef-driven, trendy eateries. These same businesses will expand their lines of fermented foods to include more kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh and kefir, as well as carrots and cream, and many other items that will be fermented, cooked and offered to customers. The aim is on consuming the least-processed food possible while increasing probiotics to improve the immune system.
 
4. Bring on the Bugs! As food costs continue to rise, chefs are looking for new sources of protein. Insects appear more and more as a sensible choice on many levels. They exist in large quantities and can be found everywhere. In fact, 80 percent of the world consumes insects; low in fat and with three to four times as much protein as beef, insect powders can enhance your cocktails, and cricket flour can be used to make breads and pastries. These products will soon flood the shelves of grocery stores and restaurants alike.
 
5. Farm-to-Table 2.0. One trend that has been around for some time, of course, is the farm-to-table movement. The latest twist is custom farming that includes planting specifically for new-menu development. Near Seattle, Benchmark's Willows Lodge has partnered with a local farm to cultivate a new type of a relationship that will support sustainable farming throughout the community.
 
6. Takeout vs. Go Out. In an age of online and mobile food-ordering services, diners have moved away from eateries to place more value on being home-bound and the convenience of delivery. However, Benchmark projects that diners will stop unwrapping their plastic packages of cutlery and again recognize that restaurant dining offers more compelling and satisfying experiences that truly nurture the soul. Whether it is celebrity spotting, educating your taste buds on adventurous cuisine or building relationships in a social atmosphere, outside eateries offer all the things you just can't get at home.
 
7. Mainstream Vegetarianism. Time was that a vegetarian was considered the random individual whom a restaurant chef or an event manager had to appease. Today, however, meat-avoiders are much more plentiful and changing the way chefs approach menu offerings. Thanks to diners increasingly becoming attuned to "macro diets" combined with culinarians applying unique and creative takes on mom's succotash, menus will soon devote a larger portion to vegetarians. More main dishes are becoming vegetable-focused, with proteins as the complement, and vegetarian tasting menus are quickly becoming a staple in many accredited establishments.
 
8. Food and the Greater Good. The F&B and hospitality industries are no strangers to supporting the hungry and less fortunate. However, with a global focus on the natural disasters humanity faces, the collective culinary community is putting greater efforts behind charities that provide sustainable support. Chefs are paying closer attention to the critical need for food in humanitarian aid around the world.  
 
9. Out With the Old. Chefs are ready for a remix of the typical ingredients diners have become all too familiar with. Citrus is a widely used component in many dishes and libations, but soon we will see regular cameos by unique and eclectic relatives to the lime and lemon -- citron, kumquat and shaddock. Kale has outlived its welcome and will soon be replaced by wild weeds such as sorrel, dandelion greens and amaranth. Finally, put away the honey and agave, as life will become a bit sweeter with derivatives from sources like carrot, sweet potato, golden beet, butternut squash and corn.
 
10. Dietitians: the New Celebrity Chefs. Culinarians speak about healthy eating, but this is far from nutrition, which is much more rooted in the science of food. Professional dietitians will rank alongside celebrity chefs as consumers aim to personalize their food experiences. Diners will aim to craft personal meals and portion sizes relative to their dietary and nutritional needs. The convergence of mobile and Internet technologies will allow providers and core consumers to have access to personal dietary requirements at restaurants, retail locations and quick-service eateries. Individualized nutrition plans will become commonplace and a major influence on diet.
 
Benchmark encompasses three distinctive brand portfolios: Benchmark Resorts & Hotels, Gemstone Collection and the London-based Etc. Venues.