2015 Food Trends will be Triggered by the Appetites of Millennials

November 7, 2014

Photo courtesy of Empellon al Pastor in New York City

What will be trending food-wise in 2015? Andrew Freeman & Co., a leading boutique hospitality and restaurant consulting firm based in San Francisco, has released his latest trend predictions, which could very well shape the restaurant and hotel industries next year.

Dubbed “The Pleasure Principle,” Freeman’s 2015 trends are based on perceptions that instant gratification, education and participation will be recurrent themes throughout restaurants and hotels in the coming year. The economic upturn in 2014, coupled with the desire to attract the millennial patron, has led to a surge of hip new concepts, personalized service and customized experiences geared towards satisfying this generation.

“According to Full Service Restaurant magazine, millennials spent upwards of $90 billion dollars on food service in the past year, so it is no surprise that the hospitality industry is adapting to cater to this generation’s wants and priorities,” says Andrew Freeman.  

Here are a few examples of food trends Freeman predicts for 2015:    

Taco Mania

We’ve seen modern Mexican food sweep the nation, and now chefs are honing in on traditional tacos.

  • Example: Alex Stupak’s single-minded new concept in New York City, Empellon al Pastor, serves tacos almost exclusively (including a killer version of its namesake).
  • Example: Rene Redzepi, arguably the world’s best chef, is turning his attention to the hand-held food with his new taco shop in Copenhagen called Hija de Sanchez.
  • Example: Charleston, South Carolina, James Beard Award winner Sean Brock recently opened Minero, a Mexican taqueria, in his hometown.

Flavor without Fat

Chefs are adding oomph to veggies with old-world cooking techniques instead of relying solely on fats to turn up the flavor.

  • Example: Skewer something and get it roasting. At Narcissa (NYC) chef John Fraser roasts beets on the rotisserie for five hours until they are achingly sweet and deeply charred
  • Example: At Steins Beer Garden & Restaurant (Mountain View, California) they turn to smoke to add nuance and depth to vegetables and even fruit, providing hearty meat substitutes.

Mr. Softy

Don’t call it ice cream. Soft serve is popping up on dessert menus all over the country. Seasonal flavors, innovative sundae combinations and a plethora of sophisticated toppings make this nostalgic item decidedly modern. 

  • Example: The dessert menu at Alta CA (San Francisco) is all soft serve sundaes with grown-up accompaniments. Our favorite? Sticky Toffee with chocolate soft serve, caramel, toffee and salt.
  • Example: Chicago’s River Roast switches up their innovative soft serve offering daily. Recent flavors have included ginger-lemon grass studded with candied ginger and balsamic drizzled with quality balsamic vinegar. 

Pucker Up

From pickles to vinegary shrub-based cocktails, we’re into sour flavors. It’s an easy way to add dimension to dishes and by refreshing the taste buds, it literally makes your mouth water.

  • Example: The addition of mustards, pickled vegetables or even kimchi on a burger cuts through the richness of the meat and adds depth of flavor to every bite. E&O Asian Kitchen (San Francisco) tops their burger with kimchi and Sriracha aioli.
  • Example: Shrubs are created by preserving fruit with vinegar, sugar and water. The bracing beverage can be used in cocktails, like the Gunnersbury Park at Sable Kitchen & Bar (Chicago), which is a combination of Great King Street whisky, rhubarb shrub and spices.

The Original Hybrid

It doesn’t get much better than buttery toasted rye, melty cheese and a juicy beef patty. That’s the beauty of a patty melt—part grilled cheese, part cheeseburger, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

  • Example: You can only get the patty melt at Parm (NYC) on Tuesdays, but with its intensely beefy, dry-aged LaFrieda patty, it’s well worth thinking about all week.
  • Example: The signature burger at Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a patty melt and it’s so popular that Boston Burger Blog readers declared it the best burger in the city.


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