Looking ahead to 2023, there are still plenty of challenges to consider. But as we move past the pandemic, operators are also talking about opportunities—especially around menu innovation. And consumers are hungry for it, too. Datassential reports that 76% of consumers say they’re excited for new food and beverage trends in 2023.
In that spirit, we asked a few members of the Kikkoman Kitchen Cabinet, our inner circle of leading-edge chefs and operators, to tell us what foodservice trends they’re most excited about for the coming year. Here’s what we heard.
Two words: Wafu Italian. I have honestly watched this trend over the past year grow and grow! Wafu Italian is here to stay and I’m just happy to be right in the center of it with pastaRAMEN.
So what is it? In Japanese, Wafu means “Japanese-style.” So, Wafu Italian is the marriage of Japanese and Italian Cuisine. I always tell people, if you’re tasting a good Wafu Italian dish you shouldn’t be able to pinpoint if the dish is Italian or Japanese. It’s truly the best of both. It really doesn’t matter if you are using more Italian or Japanese ingredients or techniques—it’s about hitting that perfect balance that leaves diners guessing what cuisine this is. Some of my own favorite creations: Ramen Bolognese, Crocchette di Ramen, Soy Sauce Injected Burrata Fettunta. Wafu Italian is what’s next.
Chef Robbie Felice
Chef/Owner, pastaRAMEN, LA and Montclair
I am excited for 2023. I think that we are really starting to see an acceptance of what the new era of Asian–American cooking can be in the US. For the last decade, Asian cooking has all been about how “authentic to the source” restaurants could be. But now, customers are increasingly willing to finally explore more interpretive Asian cooking beyond the fine dining space. A big shout out to all my colleagues who have been doing this work for years and are finally getting recognized!
Chef Erik Bruner-Yang
Chef/Owner, Maketto, Washington DC
Plant–based products have gained tremendous momentum over the last few years. I think they’re going to grow by leaps and bounds in 2023 with more products like flavored vegan mayos, vegan aioli sauces, and vegan/vegetarian condiments that can be used in everything from vegan to non-vegetarian applications. I foresee these condiments enhancing everything from pastas to rice bowls, and wraps—and being used to cook healthier across the board.
Chef Angelo Sosa
Chef/Owner, Tia Carmen, Phoenix