Worst Food Trends Caterers Get Asked to Add to a Menu
As an event or hospitality caterer, you know pleasing everyone is an impossible chore, especially when there’s always new food trends to keep up with.
But it’s something you get tasked with all the time.
Customers often put in requests for caterers to recreate specific meals and drinks. But not all the suggestions are worth putting on the menu. In fact, some are downright awful.
Some would argue that social media has a part to play in this.
The sheer number of food trends that come and go on popular visual-based platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are constantly showcasing wild, wonderful, and weird recipes that get viewers excited from the other side of the screen.
The uncertainty and anxiety of the pandemic have also driven people into new relationships with their food—either opting for niche health regimes like the keto diet or fruitarianism, or flying in the opposite direction with nostalgic and indulgent comfort foods.
Add to the fact that Millennial and Gen Z customers have broader palettes than their Baby Boomer predecessors, and this mix has made for some bizarre menu requests in 2022.
Here are nine of the worst food trends caterers face regularly:
1. Avocado everything
There aren’t many people that outright hate avocado. But there’s definitely a growing population of fence-sitters who have tired of this fallback food trend.
From the classic avocado toast to the slightly less conventional avocado milkshake or chocolate mousse, caterers are constantly bombarded with avocado-centric menu suggestions that leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
2. Gold flakes as edible décor
Over the past few years, there’s been a significant uptick in food trend videos featuring edible gold leaf. But even though many pastry chefs will agree that there is a time and a place for this luxurious decoration, gold leaf usually serves little purpose to a dish other than inflating its price tag.
Gold doesn’t have any flavor, nor does it create any special chemical reaction with other ingredients. It’s a completely superfluous ingredient that adds nothing but aesthetic appeal, and it’s really something that should only be for special occasions.
If you’re a low-carb keto fanatic or vegan enthusiast, zucchini noodles may sound delicious. But to everyone else, they’re just another disappointing (albeit healthier) substitute for a pasta dish.
Whether raw and crunchy or gently boiled for a softer bite, zoodles are often lacking in both flavor and substance.
This food trend is popular amongst plant-based and low-carb communities, but that’s probably where they ought to stay.
As much as they might try to disguise themselves, zucchinis will never be a solid contender for traditional pasta.
4. Fried chicken sandwich
These days, it seems like just about every restaurant’s menu features a classic Nashville-style spicy chicken sandwich.
But while there’s nothing wrong with one of these spicy, satisfying sandwiches, it’s time to move on to something new if you want your event to be creative and stand out.
5. Sriracha everything
Sriracha mayo, sriracha on eggs, sriracha vinaigrette and sriracha on avo on toast. We get it. Sriracha is delicious! But that doesn’t mean it has to go on everything.
People say that too much of a good thing can be bad, and the same applies to sriracha.
Chefs will always try to factor in popular flavor profiles into their dishes, but sometimes you just have to draw the line.
There are plenty of other condiments that are also packed full of flavor and have amazing potential. Harissa, preserved lemons, and dukkah are just a few of the many that are not as trendy, but add so much interest to a dish.
Matcha is the naturally bright green antioxidant-loaded tea powder that has popped up everywhere on Instagram. Whether stirred into slender glasses of tea with almond milk or sprinkled on top of a red cappuccino, it’s everywhere.
But while it’s true, that matcha boasts a long list of health benefits, chefs can only do so much with its intensely bitter flavor. It’s definitely an acquired taste that few people around the world outside of Asia can tolerate regularly. It’s just not an essential menu item.
7. TikTok recipe trends
TikTok is a video platform that’s great for marketing and featuring millions of flashy viral recipes. But very few of these recipes are created for much more than a few seconds of meaningless fame.
Cheetos mac n’ cheese, cotton candy pickles, grated egg and everything cereal are just some of the absurd recipes you can find on this site.
Many of the food trends on TikTok are glamorous but flimsy experiments designed to attract views, not elevate in the food industry as a credit to their authenticity, flavor, or expertise.
Professional chefs put considerable time and energy into creating dishes of value, so for menu requests, it’s time to leave TikTok out of it.
8. Colored pastries
It’s 2022, and we don’t need to see any more multicolored bagels. They don’t taste better than regular pastries; they make eating savory pastries feel a little strange, and they add several more hours of needless labor to a baker’s to-do list. And for what?
These playful-looking pastries may be a good fit for a children’s birthday party. But if it’s for a special occasion or a wedding, there are so many other ways to add color, from the flowers to the decor. Leave the food out of it. Food coloring and a well-made croissant are not sustainable companions.
9. Collagen broth
With health food trends currently dominating parts of the restaurant industry, it should come as no surprise that even collagen broth is weaving its way into popular food culture.
However, just like all trends, health food trends are often short-lived. Collagen broth may be good for bones and certain body types, but there’s no need for caterers to include it on events menus.
Just because a food trend is popular today doesn’t mean that it will be tomorrow.
As a caterer, it’s time to learn how to steer people away from terrible food trends and towards food that deserves to be trending—for the right reasons.