Trends come and go each year in every industry and market, including, of course, the food world. At NC Seafood Restaurant in Raleigh, we tend to keep it pretty classic, but that doesn’t mean we don’t keep an eye on the latest and greatest food trends that come around each year. Join us as we delve into 10 surprising food trends 2024 brings with it. Some trends are commendable, others are intriguing, and yet others are utterly admirable. Let’s dive in!

Bigger, Badder Breakfasts

One of the most exciting is the emergence of satisfying and wholesome breakfast as a 2024 food trend. Breakfast has, historically, gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to meals we look forward to most. Whether it was because of a long commute waiting for us, a tendency to fill up on coffee, or just forgetfulness that pushed this spread to the side for all those years, breakfast just never seemed to excite the masses as much as its afternoon and evening counterparts.

food trends 2024

This year, though, it seems like this morning meal is finally getting its due. And rightfully so!

There are a few theories for this sudden shift in food trends. It might be the hype around brunch spilling over into a newfound love of indulgent meals even earlier in the day, or a tendency towards mindful, mellow eating that emphasizes enjoying every bite throughout the day. Whatever the cause, look for more breakfast restaurants popping up, with plenty of new and exciting dishes filling the menus. 

Plant-Based Popularity

2024 is the year when plant-based options become more than just one of the biggest food trends; they become a culinary movement. With advancements in technology, expect to see a surge in plant-based proteins that mimic the taste and texture of meat. From plant-based seafood to realistic dairy alternatives, the plant-based wave is set to sweep across menus globally. 

Another new wave is taking the plant-based frenzy by storm, too —a focus on “real” ingredients may uproot the meat substitutes that have filled the shelves over the past few years. Instead, a focus on plant-based food that leans into the natural and holistic will see more momentum, thanks to a shift in focus to transparency and health in the market. 

Locking in the Local

Sustainability takes center stage as consumers become more conscious of their food choices, shaping food trends this year. Local and hyper-local sourcing of ingredients will be a prevailing trend, with chefs and home cooks alike celebrating the flavors of their region. 

In case you haven’t heard the latest on hyper-local sourcing, this practice involves shopping and bartering for ingredients from sources extremely close to home, often within a specific community or neighborhood. Unlike traditional local sourcing, which can include nearby regions, hyper-local sourcing narrows the focus to the immediate surrounding area. The goal is to strengthen the connection between producers, chefs, and consumers, emphasizing the benefits of supporting local economies, reducing environmental impact, and celebrating the unique flavors of a particular area.

In hyper-local sourcing, ingredients are often procured directly from nearby farmers, artisans, or specialty producers. This approach, along with local sourcing, encourages a sense of community and fosters relationships between those who grow or produce the food and those who prepare and consume it. Think neighborhood-specific menus and community-supported agriculture influencing our daily meals.

Zero-Waste Cooking 

One of our favorite food trends 2024 brings is zero-waste cooking. Sustainability isn’t just about ingredients; it’s about minimizing waste in the kitchen—and getting creative while you do it. Zero-waste cooking will become a mantra for chefs and home cooks, with a focus on utilizing every edible part of an animal (known as nose-to-tail cooking) and applying the same idea to fruits, vegetables, and grains. 

Creative uses for food scraps will also be a focus, transforming what was once considered kitchen waste into flavorful components of dishes. Vegetable peels might find a new life as crispy snacks, citrus peels could be infused into syrups or used to flavor dishes, and leftover herb stems might become the base for aromatic broths. 

Composting will play a central role in the zero-waste kitchen, ensuring that organic waste is returned to the soil rather than contributing to landfills. Get ready to see what ideas spring out of our kitchens when nothing goes to waste.

Sea-Inspired Snacks 

Seafood never really seems to go out of style, but this year is bound to bring new takes on old favorites. 

One of the biggest food trends 2024 brings is seafood charcuterie boards, which have been sweeping foodie Instagram feeds lately. The boards are a feast for the eyes and the stomach, thanks to their vibrant colors, varied textures, and tasty flavor combinations. 

This trend has both professional chefs and home cooks exploring the vast array of seafood options in new ways. Picture slices of silky smoked salmon, intricately arranged tuna tartare, or succulent lobster ceviche served alongside tangy seafood dips and spreads. Seafood charcuterie boards embrace the concept of pairing, much like their traditional counterparts. Scallops shine when paired with zesty citrus, for instance, while smoked mackerel goes best with horseradish-infused aioli. 

food trends 2024 brings with it

Cyborg Sous Chefs

Ok, so don’t take us too literally on this one. We just know that as technology becomes commonplace both in kitchens and in the development of food itself, things are bound to get interesting when it comes to food trends. 

Augmented reality menus, interactive cooking classes through virtual reality, and AI-driven personalized food recommendations will redefine the way we dine out, making it more immersive and taking the idea of “experiential” dining to a new level. It also seems that these robotics will play a big role in the back-of-house as well, with many restaurant owners planning on integrating tech into their service and operations to create more streamlined processes.  

Luxury meets Comfort

Another food trend 2024 brings is luxury comfort food. Comfort foods get a gourmet makeover as chefs reimagine classic dishes with a modern twist, breathing new life into classic dishes with creativity, sophistication, and a modern flair that elevates comfort foods to unprecedented culinary heights.

Childhood favorites in particular take center stage, with indulgent takes on nostalgic staples. Grilled cheese sandwiches are updated with artisanal cheeses, house-made preserves, and even truffle; chicken tenders get even more delicious with a perfectly crispy exterior and a medley of gourmet dipping sauces; and mac n cheese gets more complex with additions like lobster or smoky bacon. 

The quest for comfort in a post-pandemic world, along with a generation of millennials obsessed with throwbacks, has chefs refining old ideas for more adult, discerning palates.

Funky Flavor Combos

Say goodbye to predictable pairings, one of the most exciting food trends 2024 brings is thinking outside the flavor box. Chefs are experimenting with desserts that incorporate savory elements, introducing a playful complexity that captivates the taste buds (This thyme-infused chocolate mousse with truffle oil is one of our go-to’s lately). 

Globalization also plays a part here, as chefs draw inspiration from diverse culinary traditions. Global fusion takes on a new meaning, with dishes that blend the bold spices of Indian cuisine with the umami richness of Japanese flavors, or the citrusy brightness of Mediterranean fare with the heat of Latin American spices.

These flavor combinations challenge preconceived notions and redefine the concept of culinary harmony.

Fermentation Frenzy

The art of fermentation has been around for centuries, with food trends in recent years highlighting it even more, but 2024 might just be the best year for this trend so far. Beyond the classic kimchi and sauerkraut, anticipate a surge in creatively fermented products. Fermented beverages, snacks, and even desserts will grace our tables, offering a symphony of unique and complex flavors.

Part of the fascination with fermentation comes from international traditions that have found new audiences in the states. From the Korean tradition of fermenting soy-based products like doenjang to the Japanese art of fermenting miso, chefs and home cooks are traveling the world from the comfort of their kitchens. 

Nature-Inspired Nibbles

The popularity of trends like cottagecore and vintage aesthetics has paved the way for botanical-inspired food trends and recipes to go viral. From herb-infused savory dishes to floral-decorated desserts, this style brings the beauty of the garden right to the dining room table.

Edible flowers are more than just garnish, they’re now integral components of some iconic dishes. Floral-infused syrups, candied petals, and floral-infused butter add a fresh twist to any recipe, while botanical-inspired cocktails featuring herb-infused spirits, and floral finishes are taking off in bars across the country. 

Final Word: 10 Surprising Food Trends 2024 

As we head into the new year, these food trends promise plenty of good meals to look forward to. From new tastes and trends to old favorites, we can’t wait to share our favorite dishes. 

And if you’re looking for some staples to come back to, you can always count on NC Seafood Restaurant to serve up our timeless Calabash-style seafood. Stop by today, or place an order online and enjoy this classic in the comfort of your home. 

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