Philadelphia Food Trends for 2020

January 31, 2020

What to expect on Philadelphia menus this year

Recently, the taste-makers at Whole Foods Market polled culinary experts, buyers and foragers across 490 stores and published an article of predictions for Top 10 Food Trends for 2020. Along with a rise in West African foods and never-before-seen nut and seed butters, the grocery giant posited that there would be a movement from butchers and meat brands to popular plant-based meals and meat-plant blends, like burgers mixed with lean meat and fresh mushrooms, as interest grows toward eating healthier and more responsibly.

Philadelphia is known for its innovative, chef-driven restaurants, globally-inspired cuisine and experimental food options, and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau reached out to some local culinary artists and caterers to get their opinions on what might be the new trends to watch out for in Philadelphia in 2020 and beyond.

Mark Tropea, Executive Chef at Stir, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Mark Tropea, Executive Chef at Stir, courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Mark Tropea works for Constellation Culinary and serves as Executive Chef at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Stir restaurant. Tropea has been infatuated with the plant-based diet craze and has found a creative way to incorporate those ingredients into tried-and-true recipes. He has been creating some uniquely drool-worthy items that also appeal to the meat and dairy lovers out there. For example, Tropea has added a Crispy Maitake Mushroom to his menu. He takes a whole maitake mushroom and throws it in the deep fryer — “who says plant-based needs to be entirely healthy,” jokes Tropea — before dressing it with a creamy mustard and hemp-seed vinaigrette. Then, he finishes the tasty dish with Meyer lemon zest and chives.

“The effect is a rich, meaty umami from the mushroom with a satisfying, creamy dressing that is made without dairy or mayonnaise,” says Tropea. “It is one of my favorite menu items right now.”

Marko Krancher, Executive Pastry Chef for Garces

St. Honore by Executive Pastry Chef Marko Krancher. Photo courtesy of Garces.

Iron Chef Jose Garces continues to embrace both local and international food trends in innovative and daring ways. The one major trend they have been seeing at Garces Events has been the rapid rise of nut butters, something they chose to let shine in their interpretation of a classic dessert from France called St. Honore. The rich, decadent Caramelia Mousse traces its origin back to the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs: Saint Honore (or Honoratus, circa 600 AD) who gets feted with a feast day every year on May 16. Executive Pastry Chef Marko Krancher infuses this particular dish with house-made peanut butter but he thinks the popularity of more unusual nut butters (think: chickpea and macadamia) will further the trend into the mainstream in 2020 and beyond.

“We’re seeing nut butters becoming more popular throughout the industry,” said Krancher. “Other nut butters like sunflower butter, cashew butter and pistachio butter are becoming more prevalent in our kitchens for brunch offerings, pastries and receptions on the savory side as well. This trend is poised to continue with butters coming from new places like chickpea and macadamia.”

Jon Jividen, Culinary Director at 12th Street Catering

12th Street Catering photo by Theresa Regan Photography.

Jon Jividen is always trying to stay ahead of the curve as culinary director at 12th Street Catering. He points to the influx of more artisan and healthier choice ancient grain breads, specifically in regard to “savory additions” used in flavored oils, ethnic spices and even olives. In addition, Jividen cited new ways to prepare and serve vegetables with a focus on turning them into main entrée options. Asian vegetables and exotic herbs will be big in 2020, along with the continued influence and growth of Mediterranean foods, especially Israeli dishes. He also says to keep an eye on pungent spices and peppers like turmeric, Aleppo pepper, harissa, Hammaruma chile, Espelette pepper, chermoulas and spirit-infused black peppercorns (think: bourbon, whiskey, rum).

Roth Perelman, Executive Chef at Catering by Design & Garnish

Photo courtesy of Catering By Design.

Off-premise catering professionals are getting in on the action, too. Roth Perelman, executive chef at Catering by Design, monitors all the food trends closely and works diligently to incorporate them into new recipes to fulfill their clients’ requests. She cited an increased ask for plant-based items and zero-proof cocktails at events booked for 2020.

“My team and I have been working to develop plant-based additions in all areas of our menu,” said Perelman. “I would say this upturn is being fueled by increased variety and better-quality plant-based meat. While tofu, seitan and other meat substitutes worked well for their purpose in the past, the new items hitting the market are really changing the game and appealing to a wider variety of people. Another trend that has been on the rise that we’ve noticed is “zero proof” cocktails. Here at CBD, we have done a few events that are alcohol-free and featured a variety of mocktails.”

Pierre Labine, Chef at Brulee Catering

Brulee Catering offers vegan and vegetarian options, along with locally-sourced items. Photo by Mario Oliveto Photography.

At Brulee Catering, Chef Pierre Labine considers himself an early adopter of the plant-based movement as he started noticing requests spike in 2019. His signature Mushroom Shepard’s Pie allows locally-sourced Kennett Square mushrooms to be the star of the dish. In it, he layers the mushrooms with carrots, peas and onions before adding a dash of vegetable stock and then topping it off in the souffle pan with olive-oil whipped potato crust.

“As a full-service caterer, we ensure our guests always have vegan and vegetarian options to choose from and in the past year I have noticed a significant increase in the demand for plant-based alternatives,” said Labine. “We are always up for a savory (or sweet) challenge and look forward to seeing how this trend evolves in 2020.”


For more information and assistance in planning a special event in Philadelphia, contact the PHLCVB Convention Services team.


Cover photo courtesy of 12th Street Catering.

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