These Are 25 Culinary Trends of the past 25 Years

Written by | Food

Sexy Shirtless Chef

Our celebration of our 25th anniversary continues with a look at food fads of the last quarter-century. From fantasies to flops, foodies have seen much worth remembering in the past 25 years:

  1. Celebrity restaurant owners. In 1990, Robert De Niro opened Tribeca Grill; today it’s still hopping. The same can’t be said for Britney Spears’ failed Nyla, but who knows when she might — oops — do it again.
  2. Celebrity chefs. High-flyers like Daniel Boulud, Bobby Flay and Mario Batali came into their own. Others were just flashes in the pan.
  3. Open kitchens. Visible chef meltdowns turned great meals into great shows.
  4. Food trucks. The craze was convenient, but if you want fine dining, keep on truckin’.
  5. Farm-to-table. Begging the question: Where was food coming from before?
  6. Communal tables. Being inconvenienced by strangers never felt more chic.
  7. Coffee. Went from addiction to obsession.
  8. Locavore. Pushing locally sourced, sustainable produce, many locavore restaurants also famously served a holier-than-thou attitude.
  9. Small plates. You’d think making meals out of appetizers would cut down on the tab. Nope.
  10. The Food Police. Trans fats were forbidden and calories, revealed. But who’s counting?
  11. No smoking. The after-dinner cigarette went the way of the dodo.
  12. Blogging. Everyone’s a critic, and iPhones snap each dish. But who’s supposed to care?
  13. Molecular gastronomy. Chefs became mad scientists. But eventually even Wylie Dufresne closed his lab, wd-50
  14. Umami. They called it the fifth taste. I call it soy sauce.
  15. Burgers. The classic gave birth to a cult — from ground sirloin stuffed with foie gras, short ribs and black truffles at db Bistro Moderne to the Angus burgers at Shake Shack.
  16. Real-estate wars. Even stalwarts seemed perpetually in danger of losing their leases.
  17. Cocktail culture. Thanks, Sex and the City.
  18. Upscale comfort food. I love an oxymoron.
  19. Kale. To quote Orange Is the New Black, “That’s a garnish.”
  20. Fusion cuisine. A multicultural melting pot.
  21. Singular sensations. Spots like Flex Mussels, Peanut Butter & Co., S’Mac, and The Nutella Bar found many ways to play one note.
  22. “Tap or sparkling?” Designer bottled water made a splash. The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park City even had a water sommelier on staff.
  23. Careful Carnivores. Beef went grass-fed; chicken, free-range; pork, hormone-free.
  24. Brooklyn. The new dining destination. (Shh — don’t tell Manhattan.)
  25. Gluten-free. Please pass on the rolls.

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Last modified: July 30, 2019