by Matt Alderton | November 06, 2018
Meatless entrées, smoky spices, superfoods and entrails -- that's right: entrails -- are among the food-and-beverage trends that meeting and event planners can most look forward to in 2019, according to Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, which last week published its fifth annual "Kimpton Culinary + Cocktail Trends Forecast."
Drawing on the input of more than 100 chefs, sommeliers, general managers and bartenders at more than 80 Kimpton restaurants and bars, the forecast lays out a handful of trends that en-vogue planners may want to incorporate into their own gatherings next year.

At a macro level, sustainability, wellness and diversity are dominant themes.

"It's remarkable to see the year-over-year evolution of these major dining trends and the role wellness, culture and human connection continues to play in the dining experience," said Kimpton Senior Vice President of Restaurants & Bars Scott Gingerich. "I'm proud to work with creative, boundary-pushing chefs and bartenders who surprise us with new flavor combinations, unexpected ingredients and innovative ways to incorporate sustainability into everything we do."

According to Kimpton's chefs, meat alternatives -- which first appeared as a trend in last year's survey -- will continue to gain in popularity in 2019, with 80 percent of chefs indicating that they plan to feature a vegan or raw dish on their menu. In particular, chefs predict a vegetarian take on the "whole beast" movement with "whole vegetable" entrées like roasted eggplant with eggplant caviar and family-style vegetable "charcuterie."

Veggies are replacing carbs, too, thanks to vegetable-based carb replacements like cauliflower gnocchi, yuba pasta and pizza crusts made from chickpeas and polenta.

Carnivores also are evolving, according to chefs, who say meat-eaters will become more adventurous in 2019 by experimenting with offal-based dishes like monkfish liver mousse, trippa on bruschetta, and offal and sausage arancini.

Meat and meatless dishes alike will feature unique flavors, herbs and spices, Kimpton predicts. Especially popular, it says, are African spices and herbs -- like the South African herb rooibos, or "red bush," and berbere, an aromatic spice mix found in many Ethiopian dishes -- as well as Japanese contributions like the green, leafy herb lovage and togarashi, a seven-spice mix common in Japanese cooking. Also up and coming are smoky flavors; floral flavors, like rose and lavender; and Israeli flavors, like cumin and tahini.

Herbs and spices also figure prominently in another trend: superfoods, which are known for their nutritional density. Popular ingredients will include turmeric, sage, holy basil, rose water, camu and goji berries, as well as fermented and probiotic-rich ingredients like tapache and sauerkraut.

Chefs also will continue to adopt sustainable practices like zero-waste dinners, single-origin and hyper-local sourcing, and onsite composting and greenhouses.

Cocktail trends also are shaking things up. Emerging flavors include turmeric, rose, tarragon and celery root, as well as moringa, goji berries, pandan, fenugreek, genmaicha and mate. Mocktails also are growing in popularity, as are flavored alcoholic seltzers and savory cocktails inspired by food, like a gin cocktail that tastes like a gyro and a "Cacio e Pepe" martini.

Cocktail pairings, meanwhile, are poised to move beyond wine and cheese. Up-and-coming combinations include wild boar heart and burgundy, oysters and gin, crickets and pisco, Latin cuisine and scotch, and Champagne and fried chicken.

As for the most popular drink of 2019? Bartenders predict it will be a mash-up of two darlings from 2018: frozen rosé and Aperol spritz, the marriage of which will produce "Aperol frosé."

Finally, meeting planners who don't want to seem dated should take note of the following trends that have officially jumped the shark, according to Kimpton: activated charcoal, anything deconstructed, pumpkin spice, molecular food and edible dirt.