Top Foodie and Entertaining Trends for 2016

Diane Sewell | January 13th, 2016

Wonder what’s coming down the culinary pipeline this year?

For starters, think Kaniwa, African spices, bespoke food stations and afternoon tea parties.

“There are some exciting new food trends developing,” says Debra Lykkemark, CEO and founder of Culinary Capers, an award-winning Vancouver-based event planning and catering company.

Click through for Debra’s top predictions.

Less meat, more plant-based proteins

Vegetable Lentil Soup“This is the strongest trend,” she says. “What we’ll be seeing in restaurants and at catered events are more legumes – things like lentils, chickpeas, beans, as well as ancient grains and seeds, such as quinoa, far, freekeh, barley, chia and hemp seed, and the new superstar Kaniwa.” (Kaniwa is a South American seed that’s similar to Quinoa, but half the size.

It’s simple to cook and full of iron, omega 3s and protein.) Part of this trend, she says, is fuelled by rising meat costs, concerns about hormones and additives, and the environmental impact of raising livestock. But can you dress up something like Kaniwa? Can grains and seeds go gourmet?

“Actually, the trend is to dress down the plates a little bit and use fewer ingredients, but really good quality, and pair them down so the flavours of those few beautiful products come through,” says Debra, who has also been identified as one of Canada’s top women business owners by Profit magazine.

“Vegetables are going to be very important, augmented by these grains. This trend may take a little while to become mainstream, but I can already see with some of the weddings we’re doing that young people in particular are very conscious of their environmental footprint and eating healthily has become their way of life.”

carbonatedcocktails_malibumelonmojitoCulinary cocktails

“Chefs are changing gears and becoming mixologists, creating sophisticated, handcrafted cocktails infused with local, seasonal ingredients, fresh herbs, and artisan local spirits spiked with house made bitters,” says Debra.

In fact, her own chefs have created a list of seasonal cocktails. Their spring/summer favourite is the Sake Sparkler, which consists of local, artisan sparkling sake (rice wine), called Osake Junmai Nama, flavoured with strawberry-rhubarb syrup, fresh lime juice and a splash of soda. Their fall/winter favorite is Okanagan Apple Bourbon with fresh-squeezed Okanagan apple juice, cinnamon, vanilla bean and lemon.

GettyImages-85429903Heirloom anything

“One of the great new foods are all these gorgeous heirloom apples that are coming out,” says Debra. “When I was first in the business it was basically Granny Smith and McIntosh apples and now I can go down to the Granville Island Market and there are 20 types of local heirloom apples. We’ve seen heirloom tomatoes for some time now, but now we’ve also got purple potatoes and purple carrots. Everything heirloom is hot.”

African flavours

Exotic, flavour-packed spice mixes are going to be used on vegetables and proteins – things like Za’Atar, Berbere and Harissa. “Turmeric will be the star spice for 2016,” predicts Debra, “because it’s delicious and known as the miracle spice because of its health benefits.”

food-1-GettyImages-461677611Bespoke food stations

This trend is all about the roaming cart where a chef or server creates a custom plate according to each guest’s preferences. Items on the cart can include things like cheese, artisan olive oils and vinegars, roasted veggies and gourmet salts. This is a hot trend for cocktail parties and also something you can do at home.

food-2-GettyImages-127520500Big displays of little desserts

Picture tiny shots of mousse, cookies, profiteroles, cookies, little fruit galettes and wee cupcakes displayed en masse. You can even theme the display by making them all the same colour. Debra suggests displaying the desserts on tiered serving trays or even on a shelving unit. “Just remove all those pictures and fill the shelves with petite desserts. It makes a real statement.”

tea-featureAfternoon tea parties:
“One trend that I think will be really hot this year is afternoon tea and and it’s quite easy because you can do it all ahead of time,” says Debra. (Culinary Capers recently put on an afternoon tea for the editor of Vogue magazine at Nordstrom’s new store in Vancouver.)

She suggests starting with a sparkling wine station, offering different syrups and liqueurs for guests to create their own custom drink by adding a splash to their champagne glass and topping it off with either sparkling wine or sparkling water. (She recommends blood orange syrup flavoured with orange bitters, Grand Marnier, Cassis, strawberry rhubarb syrup.)

You can pass around pre-made hors d’oeuvres, then have three-tiered trays at each table or on a buffet table. Fill them with small elegant tea sandwiches, sweet and savory petite scones and assorted tiny desserts.

“You can even invite the ladies to dress up and wear hats or a fascinator.”