A new year means a new ensemble of foods and drinks that will dominate dining tables, menus, pantries and secret snack drawers. And while we interviewed a handful of chefs to get their predictions on 2024’s culinary trends, there are always a few that emerge and bewilder us all (looking at you, girl dinner).
Surprises aside, larger movements in gastronomy, year after year, show no signs of slowing down. So we’ve rounded up six things you’ll undoubtedly see in restaurants and on grocery store shelves in the coming months, as well as the small businesses that are ahead of the game and putting out products to accommodate these rising demands.
Super spicy condiments
Gone are the days of youth scoffing at the idea of consuming spicy food. Gen Z is a generation of adventurous eaters who not only relish the taste of hot peppers, but also challenge themselves to see how much heat their palates can handle.
But for a more flavorful, well-balanced approach, try Gloria’s Shito Ghanaian chili oil. The vegan condiment, created with an umami-forward blend of habanero, ginger, garlic, onions and tomatoes, makes a wonderful topper for eggs, pizza, sandwiches and even vanilla ice cream. Use it to zhuzh up boring proteins or elevate your favorite dishes by incorporating an extra kick that enhances — rather than overpowers — the familiar flavors you already crave and consume on a daily basis.
Plant-based cuisine is nothing novel, but the ways in which we incorporate produce into our meals will be revolutionized by chefs and bakers who make fruit and veggie-heavy diets more innovative and approachable.
Los Angeles-based Brady’s Bakery, known for its colossal stuffed cookies, has introduced a “VGAN” soy bacon-based variety with notes of sweet maple syrup to counter the punch of salt. The shop, which ships nationwide, also carries a dairy-free chocolate chip and sea salt cookie that is sweetened with applesauce. Of course, if you can’t resist a butter-laden OG like the uber-popular Basic B (a sprinkle-heavy sugar cookie), selections like these are still available on the menu, but Brady’s foray into vegan offerings models an ongoing trend that proves dessert doesn’t have to include animal products to taste delicious.
We know what you’re probably thinking: What’s the point of drinking a nonalcoholic spirit if you don’t get the benefit of a good buzz? The answer: Some people enjoy and appreciate the nuanced tastes of different liquors, and companies like Free Spirits have found ways to imitate these flavors sans booze. In fact, these bottles can be considered certified health beverages, boasting less than 15 calories per serving with a mood-lifting infusion of vitamin B3 and B6. They’re also distilled in ways that mirror actual production methods and ingredients (blue agave for tequila and juniper for gin, for example), but are reconstructed to remove any trace of alcohol. Now anyone can partake in Dry January without feeling like they’re sacrificing the elements of a classic cocktail.
Cuisine inspired by travel
After years of COVID-influenced travel restrictions, we continue to put jet-setting at the top of our priority lists. Trips abroad usually mean stumbling across cuisine that represents the region in a way that’s special and authentic, but enjoying these dishes doesn’t have to be short-lived and reserved for vacation. There are plenty of small businesses in the States with a primary mission to share the indigenous foods and beverages from other cultures, especially for those who don’t have the time or means to experience them straight from the source.
For example, those who crave meat pies from Down Under will be delighted to come across G’Day Gourmet, which offers five unique flavors like lamb and rosemary, chicken and leek, and steak and stout. Simply pop them in the oven to brown and you’ve got yourself an Australian delicacy that will remind you of that mid-afternoon nosh you may have had near Bondi Beach.
Vietnam, known for the world’s best robusta coffee, can now be brewed at home thanks to Nguyen Coffee Supply. The female-owned company works with farmers to import hand-picked and washed beans directly from Southeast Asia that are then roasted in Brooklyn. It’s also made a commitment to sustainability, aiming to limit water and energy use and utilize 100% recyclable and compostable packaging in the near future.
Everything’s coming up roses, literally, with flower-inspired gastronomy. While edible petals are here for the long run, consumers can expect more bold floral flavors like lavender and rose to leave their mark in cocktails, salads and desserts.
London-based Rococo Chocolates has already mastered the art of incorporating flowers into its iconic chocolate. The brand’s line of violet and rose creams have emerged as a customer must-buy, blending fragrant essential oils into its fondant centers, enrobing them with chocolate and topping them with crystallized petals. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s the perfect opportunity to gift flowers and chocolate in a creative way that will give your date a giggle. (And if not, then maybe they’re not the one.)