WASHINGTON - Plant-based ingredients, including cannabis and CBD, and zero-waste cooking will be the hottest overall culinary trends of 2019, new research from the National Restaurant Association finds.

According to the Association’s 2019 What’s Hot Culinary Survey, a barometer of US food and beverage trends, 650 professional chefs – all members of the American Culinary Federation – said infusing food and drink with cannabis and CBD could create unique cuisine opportunities and potential new markets for experiential dining occasions.

Chefs ranked 140 items – from all-day breakfast to zero-waste cooking – as “hot", “yesterday’s news” or “perennial favorite.” The resulting What’s Hot list gives a preview of the food, beverages and culinary themes that will be the talk of 2019.

Nearly 77 percent of the chefs ranked cannabis/CBD-infused drinks as the No 1 trend, and 76 percent of them tapped cannabis/CBD-infused food as the second most popular. Seventy percent ranked zero-waste cooking as the third most popular trend.

However, as chefs and restaurateurs consider incorporating the ingredients into menu items, association officials stressed that operators follow all laws,when selling or using those items at their restaurants.

Third on this year’s list of overall trends is zero-waste cooking, which calls for chefs and restaurateurs to reduce the amount of food waste created during the preparation of menu items to prevent it from ending up in landfills. The chefs said zero waste could be achieved through nose-to-tail cooking, incorporating “ugly” produce into menu items and recycling or composting, among other things.

“Zero-waste cooking is a sign of the times,” said Hudson Riehle, the Association’s senior vice president of research. “Millennial and Gen Z customers in particular expect restaurants to be more eco-friendly, so sustainability is high on their list. It’s also good for business. Not only is food waste reduction more cost effective, it creates brand loyalty and helps protect the planet. It’s a big win for everyone.”

The survey indicates that Americans crave foods that not only nourish but also help sustain the planet. Plant-based and veggie centric foods are no longer just for vegetarians. In fact, three of the 15 hottest items are plant-based sausages/burgers, veggie-centric/vegetable forward cuisine and plant-based proteins. Hyper-local sourcing, including restaurants that grow produce in their own gardens, also made the Top 10 list:

  1. Cannabis/CBD oil-infused drinks.
  2. Cannabis/CBD oil-infused food.
  3. Zero-waste cooking.
  4. Globally inspired breakfast dishes.
  5. Global flavors in kids' meals.
  6. Hyper-local.
  7. New cuts of meat.
  8. Veggie-centric/vegetable-forward cuisine.
  9. Chef-driven fast-casual concepts.
  10. Craft/artisan/locally produced spirits.
The Independent on Saturday