Seafood Stew-Photo by Melissa McArdle

Five Food Trends for 2018
By Kimberley Lovato for Virtuoso Traveler

Eating well is sometimes the best part of – dare we say the entire reason for? – travel, and our culinary curiosity often has us planning itineraries around tough-to-secure restaurant reservations (we’re looking at you, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare), a celebrated ingredient (truffles, anyone?), or a newly embraced international cuisine (hello, Filipino food). For a peek at trends headed our way, we asked five renowned chefs what’s cooking. Pull up a chair and get ready to feast on the rise of plant-based fine dining, a Mexican cuisine renaissance, and more.

  1. Martha Ortiz Spreads the Gospel of Mexican
    The chef-owner of Mexico City’s acclaimed Dulce Patria, Martha Ortiz champions Mexican cuisine and has authored eight cookbooks on the subject. Her first restaurant outside Mexico, Ella Canta, opened in London in September.

    What food trend are you excited about?

    My extraordinary colleagues who are making our national cuisine so important in the world.

    Some of your favorites?

    With my frequent travels to London, I really like El Pastór, a taqueria in Borough Market, from Crispin Somerville – I adore the ambience, which strikes a very authentic Mexican aesthetic. I also appreciate the dedication and creative work of chef Eduardo García at Peyotito in Notting Hill.

    An Ella Canta agua fresca.
    Photo by Jean Cazal

    2. Jean-Georges Vongerichten Eats His Veggies
    As one of the world’s most famous restaurateurs, as well as a cookbook author, TV personality, and Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten oversees a constellation of restaurants that stretch from São Paulo to Shanghai, with his newest hot spots just opened in New York and London.

    What food trend are you excited about?

    I have always maintained a highly plant-based diet, with animal protein in moderation. This is the way I grew up eating, and I am excited to see that this clean-eating trend has resurfaced in the last few years. Recently, I opened abcV, a vegetarian restaurant in New York City. We started with breakfast and lunch, and slowly worked our way into dinner service. My favorite breakfast item on our menu is kitchari, an Indian dish made of lentils, vegetables, and turmeric.

    A chocolate, peanut, and caramel dessert at Jean-Georges at The Connaught.

    3.Carme Ruscalleda Celebrates Local Flavors
    Mostly self-taught, Carme Ruscalleda is one of Spain’s most accomplished chefs, and her restaurants have more Michelin stars than those of any other female chef in the world – seven in total – awarded to Sant Pau in Spain’s Sant Pol de Mar, Sant Pau in Tokyo, and Moments at the Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona. Ruscalleda describes their refined Catalan cuisine as “rich and diverse, with an eclectic cultural background.”

    What food trend are you excited about?

    I am thrilled to observe how chefs are still betting on the values of well-cultivated and well-bred ingredients from their surroundings, and applying their creativity and personality to them. This has motivated me and my team from the very beginning. In all my restaurants, the menus are inspired by a theme – for example, “cities of the world,” “colors,” “music,” “cinema” – and we compose each dish with local and seasonal products. Our autumn-winter menu is themed “the world of spices,” using products such as squid, pomegranate, turnips, pumpkins, walnuts, and goat cheese. Behind each product there is a local producer who works closely with us.

    Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) gazpacho, named for the Pedro Almodóvar film.
    Photo by © Isolda Delgado Mora

    4. Michael Mina Wants Us to Share
    Mina oversees an empire of more than 30 fine-dining and casual establishments across the U.S., including his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurants in San Francisco and Las Vegas, and has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation numerous times.

    What food trend are you excited about?

    I love family-style dining; I’m glad to see so many restaurants encouraging diners to share, and to see so many people being open to sharing their food. It’s how I grew up dining, with a lot of food and my family gathered around the table for hours.

    Stripsteak Waikiki

    5. Joanne Weir Keeps It Simple
    Chef-owner at Copita Tequileria y Comida in Sausalito, international cooking instructor, and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Joanne Weir trained with renowned French chef Madeleine Kamman and Alice Waters of Chez Panisse before launching several award-winning PBS shows.

    What food trend are you excited about?

    If it’s an ingredient, it’s cauliflower. I also love the approach to simplicity. People are talking about keeping a clean diet, meaning low sugar, high protein, wholesome vegetables. It’s kind of a back-to-basics approach, which is refreshing.

    Joanne Weir’s Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.
    Photo by Melissa McArdle