The 8 Best Food and Drink Trends of 2021 (and 5 We’re Looking Forward to in 2022)

Presented By
Open Table
Gold Sponsor
Destination Canada
Digital Sponsor

We went to the country’s top food experts (who also happen to be some of our Canada’s Best New Restaurants panelists) to uncover the trends they loved most this year – and what they can’t wait for in the year ahead.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary (confetti bomb!) of our annual Canada’s Best New Restaurants list, we checked in with some of the chefs, food writers and other industry professionals on our judging panel to talk about their favourite food and drink trends of the year and to find out what they’re most excited about for 2022.

September 30, 2021
wine bottles
   Photo: Manki Kim

8 best food and drink trends of 2021

Bottle shops attached to restaurants and to–go cocktails
“Being able to get some rare bottles of wine or sake that don’t appear in the liquor store, as well as bottled or canned cocktails from some of the best bartenders in the city, took the edge off the long cold months of confinement.” – Nancy Matsumoto, writer and editor who covers food, drink and agroecology

Related: Meet the Japanese Sake Brewers Taking Cues From French Winemakers  

urban farming
   Photo: Joshua Lanzarini

Growing food
“Canadians have discovered their sleeping green thumbs – and as a result of working from home, we’ve had more free time to hit local nurseries, build greenhouses and plant gardens and orchards to make staying at home more pleasant and tasty.” – Cornel Ceapa, PhD in sturgeon ecology, with a mission to produce sustainable local sturgeon and caviar

DIY drinks
“My wife took up making Limoncello from scratch during the pandemic. It’s an exercise in patience as it takes a lot of tedious work and a steeping time of one month. Everyone we share it with says they have never had better outside of Italy. We drank enough to warrant getting a lemon tree.” – Roger Mooking, celebrity chef, restaurateur and TV host of Man Fire Food on Food Network

sourdough bread loaf
   Photo: Vicky Ng

Sourdough bread
“Despite successfully cutting bread out of my diet for several years, the propensity of delicious homemade sourdough brought me back. A round sourdough loaf, sliced thin, lightly toasted, with a spread of mayonnaise, thickly sliced tomatoes picked fresh and large basil leaves plucked from the garden is simple fare with an amazing complement of tastes.” – Suzanne Crocker, award–winning film director of First We Eat

“In the early days of the pandemic, we saw recurring pop–ups and Instagram food businesses started by home cooks either newly out of work or looking for something to fill their weekends during months–long lockdowns. More recently though, we began seeing several of these projects evolving from makeshift set–ups into full–fledged bricks–and–mortars.” – Valerie Silva, writer and editor who currently heads Eater Montreal

Social activism
“There has been a big shift in the industry regarding diversity, mental health, work–life balance, food insecurity and creating positive work environments, and that work will and needs to continue. I believe that restaurants will also continue to be creative with new revenue streams as they diversify their businesses, and focus on community outreach and charitable initiatives.” – Laura Osborne, content creator for creative agencies such as Air Canada’s enRoute and Sid Lee

Related: Opening Up: The Restaurant Industry’s Road to Recovery

Multi–course meals
“I think multi–course meals, prepared and/or with limited cooking required, are here to stay, especially during the holidays. Often these multi–course meals include delivery, with wine pairings available. Another trend here to stay is canned wine and premade cocktails.” – Shelora Sheldan, writer, columnist and culinary judge for Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards

takeout trends
   Photo: Pexels Mikhail Nilov

Next–level takeout
Takeout that feels thoughtful and not simply a convenience. This could be from traditional restaurants, pop–ups or speakeasies, with an attention to detail so you feel you’re truly being hosted, even if from afar.” – Tara O’Brady, food writer and author of the award–winning cookbook Seven Spoons

5 Food and Drink Trends You’ll See Next Year

Our food and drink experts look ahead to the biggest trends on the table for 2022.

street food
   Photo: Jirayu Koontholjinda

Global street food
“Among all the takeout–friendly fried chicken, New York–style pizza, and gourmet sandwiches, has been an uptick in street foods hailing from around the world. I expect we’ll keep seeing more of this.” – Valerie Silva, writer and editor who currently heads Eater Montreal

plant-based fare
   Photo: Ella Olsson

Plant–based fare
“More plant–based and vegetable–forward dishes and a renewed interest in sustainability and environmentally conscious food sourcing.” – David Hawsworth, Air Canada Culinary Partner and owner and operator of Vancouver restaurants Hawksworth, Nightingale and Bel Café

Related: Montreal’s Best New Vegan Restaurants

New – and old – varietals
“With the rise in small–batch production of veggies in home gardens, we might see a rise in interest in lost or obscure varietals – new and old types of apples, root veggies and more. New plant–based milk, urban farming and home veggie gardens will also be big next year.” – Eric Pateman, global culinary consultant, chef, entrepreneur and founder of ESP Culinary Consulting

“Operations robotized in bars, restaurants and the hospitality business in general due to the lack of employees, as well as to standardize and optimize operations.” – Catherine Lefebvre, nutritionist and co–host of the podcast On s’appelle et on déjeune on Radio–Canada OHdio

Cultural authenticity
“As the population demographics in Canada continue to shift towards a more diverse culture makeup, I believe we will continue to see the normalization of even more culturally authentic food and beverage operations.” – Roger Mooking, celebrity chef, restauranteur and TV host of Man Fire Food on Food Network

Related: Chef Marcus Samuelsson on the Lack of Diversity in the Restaurant Industry

Presented By
Open Table
Gold Sponsor
Destination Canada
Digital Sponsor