1. Food

Food trend predictions for 2019: Kelp, oat milk, fermentation, chocolate hummus and more

Let's do a little prognosticating about what we will all be eating and drinking in 2019.
JENS MORTENSEN   |   New York Times
Oat milk. A debate raging among dairy industry representatives, federal regulators, makers of “alternative milks” and neighborhood baristas all boils down to one seemingly-existential question: What is milk? (Jens Mortensen/The New York Times
JENS MORTENSEN | New York Times Oat milk. A debate raging among dairy industry representatives, federal regulators, makers of “alternative milks” and neighborhood baristas all boils down to one seemingly-existential question: What is milk? (Jens Mortensen/The New York Times
Published Jan. 2, 2019

Let's look into our crystal ball, shall we? I spent a little time talking to restaurant industry folks, reading prognosticators online and just cogitating on what 2019 might hold for restaurant fare and grocery store goodies.


Whole Foods gathered 26 subject experts, from produce field inspectors to master sommeliers, and they predict we will see more exotic Pacific Rim flavors — think Filipino flavors and cuisines that haven't yet had wide purchase in the United States. That, plus more probiotics functional foods and nutrition bars that cater to the keto, paleo and grain-free eaters (I regret to inform you I've received a lot of news releases for grab-and-go bars made of chicken and beef), and more savory ice creams. Now that hemp is legal, we'll see more hemp-product items (and heck, CBD oil is the "it" ingredient of the moment), and plenty of people anticipate the sea vegetable kelp and other sea greens will make a bigger showing. This was one of my predictions for last year, but maybe I jumped the gun.


The National Restaurant Association has some of its own visions for this new year, based on a "What's Hot" survey it does annually with members of the American Culinary Federation. They anticipate more plant-based meat alternatives, veggie-carb substitutes for traditional starches and globally inspired menu items (especially for breakfast, things like shakshouka, the egg-and-tomato-sauce dish). And they're making the bold claim that different or innovative cuts of meat will rise in popularity. I went to a couple of Niman Ranch events this year and this seems like a reasonable prediction to me.


Here are a couple of things I predict that are stone-cold awful: Have you seen those new lines of chocolate hummus? What is it — a dessert? a weirdly sweet-savory snack? — we're going to see more of that. Snack foods that straddle the sweet and savory divide. This next one may sound paranoid, but as restaurants have more data about us from Open Table, Yelp, email lists and more, they will monitor consumers more carefully. It's in their best interest to know their customers' tastes and proclivities as best as possible. So, don't think you're being all anonymous with that Yelp burn. Next time you go into that restaurant, they may know precisely who you are.

Oh, and oat milk. We're going to see a lot of oat milk.


And some good things: Fermentation is going to continue its rise as we realize how good fermented foods are for the gut biome. But also because they are delicious. We may see a backlash against phones at the table, Instagram-bragging dishes and so forth. Or maybe that's just my wishful thinking.

It looks like plastic drinking straws are on the outs. Same goes for foam to-go containers. Let's hope plastic grocery store bags are next in line. Plastic water bottles, we're gunning for you.

Here's hoping for a healthy and happy New Year to all the diners of Tampa Bay!


  1. The food is art at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, including this cookie that looks like a painter's palette. [Walt Disney World]
    The 39-day celebration of art, entertainment and food kicked off Jan. 17.
  2. Clockwise from left: Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apple, Candy Corn and Cheeseburger-On-A-Stick [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair]
    Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apples and more are coming to the Florida State Fair.
  3. The cans feature pups who are up for adoption at Shelter Manatee. [Motorworks Brewing]
    The beer, available for purchase in packs of four and cases of 24, will be available until they sell out, the brewery says.
  4. Kumquats in Dade City. [Times (2002)]
    Plus, St. Petersburg restaurant German Knodle made Yelp’s list of the top 100 places to eat.
  5. Beverage manager for the Tampa Yacht and Country Club, Kasia Nowakowska prepares a Milk Punch cocktail, the club's signature drink for Gasparilla. Milk Punch contains brandy, simple syrup, heavy cream, milk and is garnished with nutmeg. Nowakowska says the club will make more than 120 gallons of Milk Punch for the annual Gasparilla Parade of Pirates on Jan. 25 -- and most of it will be consumed by noon prior to the invasion. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    There’s a lot of history pouring into the glasses along the parade route for the brunch (and even breakfast) cocktails.
  6. Catrinas Tacos and Tequila brought its tacos back to Tampa in a new location on Jan. 17. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times (2012)]
    Plus, the chains Shake Shack and Huey Magoo’s are coming to town.
  7. German beer accompanies a serving of currywurst and schnitzel topped with mushrooms and garlic fries at German Knödle, 951 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
    Nutella-stuffed potato dumplings and rave reviews put German Knodle on Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list.
  8. Turkey Meatballs with hummus and an herby salad [MICHELLE STARK  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    It comes together so fast for a weeknight dinner.
  9. St. Peterburg's iconic restaurant the Belmark was known as an inexpensive spot to grab a meal. [Times (1982)]
    Expect an updated take on classic diner fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  10. Kumquats that are yet to be harvested in the groves at Kumquat Growers, Inc. in Dade City. The local agriculture business provides fruit for the annual Kumquat Festival to be held Jan. 25 in downtown Dade City. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
    After years of crop decline, there will be more fresh fruit at this year’s annual Kumquat Festival.