Every year, lead­ers in the culi­nary world bring us new ways to think about food, plan our meals and choose how to eat.

From small plate shar­ing to home meal kits, vari­ety and dis­cover keep the food indus­try evolv­ing.

Con­sumers may not always agree with the changes, but they will at least take a look at what is on trend.

In 2018, health­ier eat­ing choices con­tinue to drive prod­ucts to the front of the food equa­tion. Watch for more pro­tein options and super food ingre­di­ents.

Plant based foods have been strong, cen­ter plate menu themes for quite some time now. From roasted cau­li­flower steaks to spicy gar­banzo bean cakes, lean­ing on global cuisines for plant based ingre­di­ents boosts their star power.

Read more: On Trend →

Another four to five weeks of win­ter ahead means there is still plenty of time to enjoy late sea­son cit­rus fruits.

The increas­ing demand for man­darins is tes­ta­ment to the per­fect gem of a snack or lunch box treat.

Man­darins are known for their sweet fla­vor and dis­tinc­tive fra­grance. Easy peel skins and bite size seg­ments make man­darins a pop­u­lar go to pick for cit­rus fans of all ages.

Lucky that there are late sea­son vari­eties to grab our atten­tion amidst the crowded space of apples and pears. These juicy fruits can be added to every­thing from fruit sal­ads to stir fries — jams and pre­serves to win­ter cock­tails.

One late comer, that is new on the scene at this point in the cit­rus har­vest is the Gold Nugget man­darin. Cal­i­for­nia grown, this seed­less, sweet tan­ger­ine named after its bright orange, slightly bumpy rind.

This hybrid is a cross between two non-​commercial. It was devel­oped by the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at River­side. The Gold Nugget is a great juicer, aver­ag­ing a 50 per­cent juice con­tent. The fruit itself has a deep orange color inte­rior flesh with a mod­er­ately fine tex­ture. Pro­fes­sional taste pan­els con­sider this to be one of the very best fla­vored cit­rus’ in the world with a rich, full-​bodied taste.

Read more: Win­ter Delights →

The Spring Fes­ti­val known as Lunar or Chi­nese New Year offi­cially begins on Feb­ru­ary 16th and cul­mi­nate on March sec­ond with the Lantern Fes­ti­val.

Cel­e­brated in a vari­ety of cul­tures and coun­tries — includ­ing China, Japan, Korea, and Viet­nam — fam­i­lies will gather around a reunion table to honor mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions.

Lucky foods are served dur­ing the 16-​day fes­ti­val sea­son, espe­cially New Year’s Eve. This most impor­tant meal is believed to bring good luck for the com­ing year. The sym­bol­ism of these foods is based on their pro­nun­ci­a­tions or appear­ance.

Sym­bolic foods such as fish (pros­per­ity and sur­plus), dumplings and spring rolls (wealth) and cit­rus (health and full­ness) are read­ily shared along with other fine del­i­ca­cies.

Not only do the dishes them­selves mat­ter, but so does the man­ner of the prepa­ra­tion, the ways of serv­ing and the eat­ing of them. Spring onion pan­cakes, noo­dle dishes and Jai (veg­e­tar­ian stew) are easy to get behind.

Read more: Year of the Dog →

Car­ni­val sea­son always cul­mi­nates on Fat Tues­day, the day before Ash Wednes­day, the first day of Lent.

Peo­ple lucky enough to visit New Orleans the week lead­ing up to Mardi Gras will enjoy a feast of foods and sig­na­ture bev­er­ages.

Influ­ence comes largely from Cre­ole and Cajun cuisines. Clas­sic crowd pleasers include gumbo, jam­bal­aya and étouf­fée.

Loca­tion aside, plan a cel­e­bra­tion dur­ing the days of Car­ni­val. High­light slow cooked, fla­vor rich meals that can feed a large table.

Build­ing depth in dishes is easy when it comes to mas­ter­ing the all pow­er­ful Miropoix. Three veg­etable basics — car­rots, cel­ery and onions com­prise this start to many fine dishes.

Read more: Fat Tuesday →