Benchmark, which includes Benchmark Resorts & HotelsGemstone Collection and the London-based etc.venues brand portfolios released its “Top Ten Dining Trends for 2019.”

The trends were observed by Benchmark’s executive chefs and culinary experts at the company’s 80 hotels, resorts and restaurants across North America and Europe.

“Food and beverage is an ever-evolving realm of experiences,” said Patrick Berwald, VP of F&B for Benchmark. “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 [demand]."

1. The Tea Party. While three cups of tea are consumed worldwide for every cup of coffee, here in the U.S. coffee drinkers are becoming tea fans as well.

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.

We’ll start to see more craft tea blending, nitro tea on tap and even tea cocktails.

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2. Meat Lovers. 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. Not to worry, if you still enjoy good old-fashioned beef—select steak restaurants will be expanding their offerings to include less known 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. Fermented. Commercial kombucha (fermented tea) has cemented itself in the new age of alternative beverages, but 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 also expand their line to include more kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir and other fermented foods.

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4. Tastes like Crickets! 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. In fact, 80% of the world consumes insects—low in fat and three to four times as much protein as beef, insect powders can enhance your cocktails and even cricket flour can be used to make breads and pastries.

5. Farm to Table 2.0. The farm to table movement has been on the scene for a while now, but it has recently taken a new path and that is the chef/farmer movement of custom farming in regard to specifying what seeds are being planted for new menu development.

6. Are You In or Out? In an age of online and mobile food-ordering services, diners have moved away from eateries to placing more value on being home-bound and the convenience of delivery. However, we project that diners will stop unwrapping their plastic packages of cutlery and again recognize that restaurant dining offers more compelling and satisfying experiences, which truly nurtures the soul.

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7. The Vegetarian Factor. What was once seen as the random individual that a restaurant chef or an event manager had to appease, those on plant-based diets are more common than ever.

With today’s diners increasingly aware of their “macro diets” combined with culinarians applying unique and creative takes on mom’s succotash, menus will soon see a large portion dedicated to vegetarians and what is plant-based and coming from the ground.

Dishes are even becoming vegetable focused, with proteins as the complement. Vegetarian tasting menus are even becoming the staple in many accredited establishments.

8. Food & The Greater Good. The food & beverage 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 starting to put their food where their mouth is and put greater efforts behind charities that provide sustainable support. Chefs are beginning to make more meaningful connections around food.

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9. Substitutions Please. 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, such as citron, cumquat and shaddock. Kale has outlived its welcome and will soon be replaced by such wild weeds as sorrel, dandelion greens and amaranth.  

10. Dietitian, the New Celebrity Chef. Professional dietitians will rank alongside celebrity chefs as the benefits of understanding nutrition combined with leveraging technology will allow consumers to personalize their food experiences. 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. Personally-assigned nutrition will become commonplace and a major influence on diet.

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