Kale, Will You Never Die? 7 Food Trends That Ruled 2014, and 3 for 2015

Now that the glitter of New Year’s has settled, we’re taking a look back at the food fads—some predictable, others not so much—that gripped us in 2014. Behold, seven trends that diners and home cooks couldn’t get enough of last year, plus three trends we’re betting will go big in 2015.


Fancy Toast
San Francisco’s love of $4 toast ignited a national frenzy for sliced artisanal bread, and that converged with a growing obsession with avocado in everything to produce the obsession known as avocado toast, a.k.a. The Most Instagrammed Food in the World. Too lazy to top bread with avocado yourself? That’s OK—for $7 and change, places like Café Gitane in New York will gladly make it for you.

Dessert Hybrids
The frenzy around the Cronut™ pretty much guaranteed all of 2014 would be dominated by the likes of the Scuffin, Cragel, and Wonut. A few of them, like the churro ice cream sandwich, turned out to be keepers, but if we’re being honest, most of them taste better not in Frankenform.

All Kale Everything
Kale salad! Kale pesto! Kale pizza! Kale slaw! Kale smoothies! Let’s hope kale peaked in 2014, because we can’t imagine it becoming more ubiquitous than it already has been. According to menu research firm Datassential, kale is in 248 percent more salads now than it was a year ago. Fingers crossed that it goes the way of arugula, baby spinach, and mixed greens, so we can spotlight some other overlooked leafy green (hi, bok choy!).

Cold-Brew Coffee
With its low acidity, mellow flavor, and minimal prep, cold brew was a shoo-in to be this year’s big coffee trend. Considering its approachable taste and accessible brewing process, this is a coffee movement that’s here to stay, both in coffee shops and at home. Just remember: While your cold brew may taste light, it packs a heavy caffeine punch.

Ancient Grains
Quinoa, spelt, freekeh, millet, amaranth—they’re nothing new, but 2014 saw a spike in ancient-grain breads, cookbooks, and mass-market cereals. That’s right: Even General Mills planned to release an updated version of its flagship cereal.

Ramen god Ivan Orkin opened his first stateside eatery in Manhattan in 2014, the Ramenrrito defied burrito logic, the creator of the Ramen Burger opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in LA, and famed restaurant noodle supplier Sun Noodle unveiled at-home ramen kits. Noodle fanatics spent the year queuing up at restaurants for creole ramen, breakfast ramen, Jewish deli ramen, and uni- and ibérico-ham-studded cheeseburger ramen. In CHOW's Test Kitchen, we played around with ramen chiles rellenos. Like bacon, this is trend that doesn’t look like it’ll fade anytime soon.

Maxing Out the Waffle Maker
One thing the world wasn’t waffling over in 2014 was whether waffles were a thing. They were everywhere, from Church’s (Chicken & Waffle Bites) to Blue Bottle Coffee (Liège-style waffles). Taco Bell made waves with its highly anticipated breakfast Waffle Taco, and the viral blog Will It Waffle? became a bestselling book. To fully embrace the grid-shaped griddle trend, we encourage you to merge ramen mania with waffle hysteria for the ultimate 2014 creation: the ramen waffle sandwich.


Root Vegetables Will Break Ground
For years, chefs Charlie Trotter and Dan Barber created menus around parsnips, kohlrabi, and radishes, but the movement never quite went mainstream. However the confluence of our collective fatigue for kale, Michelle Obama’s viral love for turnips, and a proliferation of carrot dishes in 2014 surely means 2015 will be the year America finally falls in love with the humble root vegetable.

Restaurant Ticketing
Pay-ahead ticketing systems are already in place at some restaurants, like Chicago’s Next, San Francisco’s Coi, and Trois Mec in Los Angeles. And prepurchased reservations, which protect high-end restaurants from costly no-shows and last-minute cancellations, are only going to gain more ground in 2015: Thomas Keller, Ming Tsai, and restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You have already signed on to join a new ticketing system, Tock, when it launches this year.

Filipino Will Finally Catch On (We Swear)
Given that Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and Korean have hit critical mass, Filipino food seems poised to be the next Asian obsession in America. It’s more accessible than Scandinavian cuisine, less played out than the Jewish deli, and full of the flavor, fat, and funk that make food craveable at 2 a.m. There’s been breakout speculation about Filipino cuisine for years; here’s hoping we see an uptick in crispy pata, sisig, and pancit in 2015.
Photo credits: Churro Borough photo courtesy of Sylvia Yoo; Trois Mec photo by T.Tseng / Flickr; all others by Chris Rochelle / CHOW

Susannah Chen is a San Francisco–based freelance writer. When she's not cooking or writing, she's on the hunt to find the world's best chilaquiles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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