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The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report

Food Show Innovation: What’s Hot and What’s Not


It’s an early Saturday morning as you jump out of an Uber at The Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco.

Fresh pressed juices, aromatic coffee, donut muffins, roast chicken, gorgeous tartines and more to temp your taste buds.  The Saturday morning farmer’s market surrounds the building ~ showcasing the best pea shoots, mushrooms, swiss chard and more farm fresh vegetables to fill your market basket.

The taste-of-the-morning for me was something new = Olallieberry Jam!

For food lovers from around the globe, this is a destination where inspiration is abundant. As you head inside the Ferry Building, be sure to allow time for sampling from creative food spots like Humphrey Slocombe Ice Cream (don’t miss out on the Secret Breakfast flavour with bourbon and cornflakes!), Recchiuti Confections, Acme Bread Company, Cowgirl Creamery and Rancho Gordo New World Specialty Food, where I love their Marcella Beans!

Chef Charles Phan’s award-winning restaurant, The Slanted Door is here also – time to grab a table and learn why this creative chef continues to provide an innovative look into the world of Vietnamese food you will not forget.

Early each year, thousands of food executives, food retailers, manufacturers and chefs travel to San Francisco to attend two of the most important food shows in North America.

The Good Food Awards celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsibly produced. They grant awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients.

These foodpreneurs are at the cutting edge of innovation and provide insight to tastes we may start to see on restaurant menus and grocery shelves across North America.

Eat Your Bourbon -- Kentukyaki, Good Food Awards, SF[1]

This year, there were 193 winners from a range of categories, such as, beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, cider, coffee, and more …. Fabulous, creative, innovative and great tasting!

My notebook quickly filled up with flavour notes and was splattered with drips and schmears of tastes of goat cheeses, Turkish Coffee Liqueur, Sourwood Honey, Pineapple Cilantro Habanero Shrub and more.


What was my favourite taste from The Good Food Awards? It was the Hot and Spicy Kentuckyaki! It was so sticky, rich, spicy and tangy – and reminds you to ‘Eat Your Bourbon’!

It is in my test kitchen right now and has been drizzled over grilled chicken, roasted pork loin and soon will be used in a rice noodle salad with spot prawns and caramelized pineapple = yummy!

Now it was time to head to The Fancy Food Show – certainly one of the best ways I know to start the foodie year off right.

This 3-day show always is inspirational. Food companies both large and small from around the world show up in San Francisco each January to showcase their new tastes and products.

Donut Muffins, Ferry Building Marketplace, SF[2]Foraged Mushrooms Ferry Building Marketplace, SF[1]

Aisles filled with new twists on mustard flavours (a great raspberry, wasabi dipping mustard), endless chocolates, refreshing gelato (I really loved the Maine wild blueberry crisp sorbet), and new innovations with infused maple syrups had me stopping by to taste these products.

Yes, as my Trend Watch Report talked about last year; restorative bone broths are still increasing in popularity and we will see more of them on grocery shelves.

As well, gluten-free pastas made from green lentil and kale, black beans and more continue to appear with great tastes.


Some of my new trends that I am presenting in the Trend Watch Report for 2017 were evident at the show.

  • Kelp is the new Kale – lots of seaweed snacks
  • Pickling is more than Tangy – everything from pickled beans, beets, cauliflower and more
  • Honey Futures — Honey made from apples, with no bees required is in the sweet future

These are just a few of the tastes and trends that I found on my culinary tour through San Francisco.

The chefs and restaurants in that food-focused city continue to amaze me. Stop by next month and I will share some insights of how chefs in San Francisco are translating trends into successful menu items.

CCheadshot-1As a global culinary trendologist and executive chef, I am a connection between the culinary world and the consumer. My taste buds are externally focused on all areas of the food business. Attending food shows, cooking with chefs, taking my clients on In-Store and At-Market Tours to great food destinations like San Francisco and presenting my Trend Watch Reports are just a few ways that I help my clients launch on-trend, on-time, great-tasting menu items and food products.

Thanks for stopping by to follow my fork!

Christine Couvelier

Menu Canada's Foodservice Magazine
The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report