2020 Is The Year Of The Vegetable!

The big news continues to be plant-based foods, especially fake meats and non-dairy milks. I’m not a big meat-eater but when I do feel carnivorous, I’m going to go for the real thing not an impostor. However, I do LOVE vegetables and very excited to see them showing up in everything from ice cream to breads to gnocchi.

Here are 5 trends to keep an eye on for 2020
1. Ube Ice Cream

This Filipino purple yam ice cream has been my favorite since I first tried it back in 2017 at Soft Swerve on the Lower East Side. My current favorite restaurant, Wayan, also serves it for dessert.

It’s also been carried by Trader Joe’s since earlier this year. And it’s available at Jollibee, the Filipino fast-food spot, with over 1200 outlets around the globe. There are 3 in the NYC area.

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2. Cauliflower.

My favorite salad at Ludlow House is made with some kind of pulverized cauliflower, pomegranate seeds, freekeh (cereal food) and celery. And it is delicious.

From what I’ve seen, cauliflower has exploded this year and will continue strong in 2020. It’s often used as a substitute for carb-laden components, e.g., pizza crust.

According to Nielsen, packaged cauliflower products have grown by 71% over the past year


Trader Joes’ cauliflower gnocchi has been credited for starting the initial craze back in 2016.

However, per delish.com, Suzy Badaracco, president of the trend forecasting company Culinary Tides, said she’d first noticed cauliflower popping up on menus in 2008 which coincides with when gluten-free eating became a thing.

3. Dumplings – Bite-sized bundles of joy

The frozen dumpling market is estimated to grow by 8% per year through 2024. I also see them increasingly showing up on menus at non-Asian restaurants. Ludlow House, for example, has an amazing dim sum selection on their menu including carrot curry dumplings.

4. Eggs – individual serving, sunny side up or over easy

Another trend I’m noticing is eggs (either sunny side up or over easy) showing up as an add-on for everything from Cacio e Pepe to salads.

Keep an eye out for mini single-egg frying pans used in restaurant kitchens, e.g., at Wayan. One of my friends recently mentioned she had bought several to gift to her friends for the holidays.

5. Restaurants ditching dining rooms for delivery/pick up only

“We are sensing a really huge customer need for speed, for convenience. We’re hopeful that this concept really raises the bar on customer convenience.

Julie Atkinson, CMO, Chopt

Virtual, dark or “ghost” kitchens are trending as online food delivery becomes the fastest-growing market in the foodservice industry.

Chopt, Chick-fil-A, Sweetgreen, and Wendy’s are all testing out the pick-up and delivery only model this year.

Starbucks is even getting in on the act. They just opened their first Starbucks Pickup location in the United States for online orders.

The midtown Manhattan location is similar to some new Starbucks stores in China, where digital ordering and delivery is more common.

Bottom Line.

A bit disappointing to report that the most exciting restaurant trends are ghost kitchens and cauliflower. But I get it. And I also understand how tough it is to be in the restaurant biz these days.

We will see where this leads.

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