6 Culinary Trends in 2024 and Beyond

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Cedar Plank Salmon, a heritage dish from indigenous catering company Cedar Spoon.
Cedar Plank Salmon, a heritage dish from indigenous catering company Cedar Spoon. Photo courtesy of Cedar Spoon.

From heritage cuisine to mocktails, here are the top F&B trends reported by Elite Catering + Event Professionals.

Elite Catering + Event Professionals (ECEP), a collaborative network of executives from the world’s top catering and hospitality organizations, launched a Trends Council earlier this year. Members are Michael Stavros, Partner, M Culinary Concepts; Holly Safford, Owner, The Catered Affair;  Bridget Bitza, Chief Revenue Officer, Butler’s Pantry; and Kashif Browne, Executive Chef, Ridgewells Catering. Their newly-released report identifies culinary trends “in cuisine, entertaining, and the business of hospitality” for 2024 and beyond.

“We’ve looked at both big, long-term trends such as the impact of UNESCO heritage cuisine on catering to the simple joy of a well-made mocktail to ensure a report that is comprehensive in scope,” says Michael Stavros, President of ECEP. Here are 6 F&B trends for event planners to put on the radar.

1. Heritage Cuisine. “It’s well known that UNESCO identifies and protects cultural and historic sites worldwide,” says the report.  “It’s less known that it also identifies elements of natural heritage such as food and eating rituals.” To date, UNESCO recognizes the cuisine of France and Mexico, and has a new list of “intangible cultural heritage food items” such as Chinese tea, harissa and Ukrainian borscht. The ECEP Trends Council predicts that food culture will become an ever-important part of the hospitality industry and that catering menus will increasingly add world food choices.

2. Mushroom Meat Alternatives. The umami-flavor, meaty texture, naturally occurring protein and nutrient-dense profile of mushrooms have given them a growing appeal for a range of plant-based food applications. The report notes the trend of mushroom-based vegan bacon, steaks and chicken. Overall, there’s a growing trend of “fungi innovation.”

Putting on the Spritz from 24 Carrots Catering & Events. Photo: Jackie Culmer

3. Zero-Proof, Custom-Crafted Cocktails.  Beautifully crafted, elevated mocktails are all the rage at events, with mixologists getting creative with elegant new non-alcoholic spirits such as Seedlip Citrus, Ritual Zero-Proof and Wilderton Bittersweet Aperitivo. “The mocktails they are creating boast complex flavor profiles and mirror premium ingredients, crafted with the same meticulous attention to detail found in traditional cocktails,” says the report. This is a trend that’s here to stay.

4. Roaming Food Carts. Fun, whimsical roving food carts offering everything from cannolis to cocktails to coffee are making appearances at events, says the Trends Council. Attendees can enjoy them before, during and after an event.

5. Urban Farming. Urban agriculture is a growing trend that not only reaps a variety of local environmental benefits, but also offers a range of fresh-picked produce for events. Several ECEP members have installed city and rooftop gardens for garnish and ingredients. Looking to the future, a rooftop garden at a Proof of the Pudding venue in Atlanta is soil-free, irrigated through reclaimed water and 100 percent electric-free.

6. Artisanal Dinnerware.  Custom-created, artisanal place-settings and tableware are bringing singular design to plated meals at events.

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