CHICAGO — Research firm Technomic has identified five buzz-worthy Canadian food and restaurant trends predicted to make a big impact in the coming year.
1) Oktoberfest all year: Canadian diners are embracing the food and drink of the Bavarian fall festival year-round. There’s mounting consumer interest in comfort-heavy German fare, such as artisanal sausages, beer cheese soups and soft pretzels.
2) New ethnic niches flourish: Ethnic food and drink is trending towards the more adventurous, moving beyond now-familiar street foods to include lesser-known specialties found at the food carts, kiosks, pubs and food halls of far-off lands, such as Chinese rou jia mo, Tijuana danger dogs, Hawaiian poke, Mexican elote and Hong Kong egg waffles.
3) Adult beverage innovation: Smoky and bitter flavours, ultra-sour liqueurs and herb-infused spirits spark creativity behind the bar. Beer cocktails and ‘winetails’ reveal the versatility of beer and wine. The hard cider trend will spin off in new directions — expect ‘hard’ soft drinks such as spiked root beers and ginger ales, to capture the spotlight.
4) Workforce squeeze: The strict moratorium on temporary foreign workers, coupled with newly enacted penalties for employer noncompliance, will have a disproportionate impact on restaurants. So will the rise in minimum wage across six provinces. Even as Canadian operators commit more resources to hiring, training and retention, they will be challenged as the effects of these mandates ripple through the labour market.
5) The slow-coffee movement: The everyday cup of java is becoming more refined, as forward-thinking operators are taking coffee to the next level. Cold brews, single-origin coffees, limited bean batches and pour-over techniques are being heavily promoted to emphasize unique, robust flavours, higher quality, premium components and artisanal preps. As the mainstream coffee consumer’s palate evolves, watch for elevated concept models—such as espresso tasting bars—also to come into vogue.