Trends, Fads and Everything in Between.

Trends, Fads and Everything in Between.

So what is a food trend vs a fad? How do current trends fit with sustainable dining? Lets have a look and see where we chefs fall in the grand scheme of media marketing.

Coconut ash, kale and cronuts – these are just a few of the foods that have made headlines. However, while they might be generating hashtags, are they really bona fide food trends or simply food fads? In a world where ‘trending’ has become a very temporary state of being, how do you tell the difference between a fad to ignore and a trend to invest in?


If you’re not quite sure what the difference is between a food trend and a food fad then you’re not alone. Essentially it’s this:

Trend – signals a general direction in which something is moving, a permanent shift. Trends can be local, regional or national and they may linger only for a short time or remain embedded for years.

Fad – has no influence over the general direction in which things are moving. Fads tend to be ‘fashionable’ for a short period of time and then are dropped, never to be heard of again.


How can you identify trends early on?

There are a number of different sources where you’ll find trends emerging – be the first to spot them and you could really put your establishment on the map.

  • Kitchens – what’s on the menu, what ingredients are proving popular, what techniques are people getting enthusiastic about?
  • Restaurants – which concepts are really taking off, what kind of design stands out or is growing popular and what type of demographics are dominating?
  • Industry – what do high profile chefs talk about, what’s social media saying, what do suppliers think and where does the industry media sit?
  • Other industries – food trends can come from outside the industry itself so explore parallel industries such as fashion, art, design, travel and lifestyle too.

How does a trend grow?

Almost all trends evolve at a fairly similar pace so knowledge of the different stages can be helpful if you’re looking to capitalise at an early stage.

  1. Embryonic – you might find a technique, taste or ingredient on a few menus in the more innovative or expensive restaurants.
  2. Early adoption – specialists and experts start to pick up on the trend e.g. industry magazines, high profile chefs and food bloggers.
  3. Entering the mainstream – bolder consumers have picked up on the trend, a broader range of media start to feature it, more social posts appear and some mainstream restaurants may start to use it.
  4. Breaking the mainstream – the trend has full exposure in all mainstream media, restaurants and blogs, and even sceptical consumers not keen on new things buy in.
  5. Tapering off – the trend has now reached its peak and appeals mostly to latecomers, highly commercial restaurants and big brand shops.

You can find some examples of restaurant trends in one of my previous blogs In addition we have seen many more over the past 3 decades.

The Decade of decadence

If you ate at a sit-down restaurant in the 1980s, the menu likely would have reflected a few of these food trends, among others:

  • French onion soup
  • lobster bisque
  • pasta primavera and pasta salad
  • angel hair pasta
  • blackened meat
  • chicken and veal marsala
  • sushi
  • quiche
  • goat cheese
  • pesto
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • “specialty” salad dressings, such as raspberry vinaigrette
  • ample sauces and garnishes
  • pink peppercorns
  • foams
  • chocolate mousse
  • berry tarts

Foods That Were All the Rage in the ’90s

Stuffed crust pizza, sundried tomatoes, architectural foods, lava cakes, pizza pockets, baked brie, and so on….Not really a strong decade for food, especially following the 70’s and 80’s food revolution.

Foods That Defined the 2000s

Bacon, everywhere, and rebranded as pork bellies to the less than savvy food consumer. Cupcakes, yuk, cupcakes everywhere, even as wedding cakes! Smoothies, sliders, creme brulee, Giant Hunks of Meat (No-Carb/Atkins), and the biggie….roasted beet salad with goat cheese.

SO WHATS NEXT? A brand new decade, seemingly a world in transition. Time to get back to the garden, sensible, healthy, beautiful food presented in a manner that compliments. I have written many blogs about farm to table, field and stream to table, sustainability, go through the archives to read more. This one also stands out,

Cheers, and happy cooking!