We’ve officially rung in a new decade, so there’s no time like the present to look ahead at the food trends that are likely to be popular in our beloved city. After all, these trends influence everything from weddings to the impact on the planet.

Of course, what’s likely to be hot isn’t simply coming out of nowhere — many of the predicted themes and trends have been slowly but surely on the rise for the past few years. From a focus on sustainability to the popularity of DIY food stations, here’s what we can expect to be hot in the Seattle food scene this year.

Prioritizing sustainability

Alena Waite, sous-chef at Lisa Dupar Catering says that over the past few years there has been a renewed interest in sustainability in the industry and she expects it to continue in the 2020s. In addition to replacing plastic forks and straws with paper and compostables, it’s influencing the foods people choose to consume.

“People from the Northwest are naturally appreciative of salmon, octopus and pink scallops,” says Lisa Dupar, owner of Lisa Dupar Catering. She has observed a commitment to maintaining our culture through continued awareness of the sustainability issues around salmon.

“Northwesterners are really aware of buying wild-caught salmon, or salmon that’s come from sustainably harvested places in Alaska,” says Dupar. She notes that potential customers who are planning events ask questions about where her company purchases their fish because they want to eat — and feed their guests — in a manner that’s as eco-friendly as possible.

Smoked salmon satay. (Matthew Land Studios)
Smoked salmon satay. (Matthew Land Studios)

The rise of mocktails

Until the past few years, there weren’t too many festive, fun nonalcoholic beverage choices. When Waite first began her career 17 years ago, she recalls that nonalcoholic drinks were mostly limited to Coca-Cola and Sprite, and the fanciest option was bubbly water with syrup. But people who don’t drink alcohol still want a fancy (and tasty) beverage to enjoy.

Zero-proof cocktails are both delicious and aesthetically appealing. Dupar has observed that many popular nonalcoholic libations use a seasonal shrub, like a citrus or elderflower cordial, as a base. “That’s definitely become a huge trend,” she says. “People want to feel like they’re part of the party and not get drunk.”

Waite says other popular mocktail ingredients include kombucha, drinking vinegar with sparkling water, and combinations of different fruit nectars with homemade tonics. “There’s a huge surge of interest in [mocktails],” she says, adding that she predicts mocktails will only become more popular in 2020 and beyond.

Strawberry zero-proof cocktails. (Matthew Land Studios)
Strawberry zero-proof cocktails. (Matthew Land Studios)

DIY food and drink stations

Many people have dietary restrictions, whether they’re due to food allergies, personal choices like vegetarianism, or both. Dupar says this is one reason that “build your own” food options have become increasingly popular over the past few years.

For example, Lisa Dupar Catering recently catered a party for 1,200 people and Dupar says that hands-down the most popular station was a picnic table with a flame in the center where guests could roast scratch-made marshmallows and put them on scratch-made graham crackers.

“People like the engagement of making their own hot toddy or something like that,” says Dupar. It’s interactive and engaging, and gives people the option of building something their own way, which has become increasingly popular due to the dietary restrictions that have come to the fore in recent years.

For people who enjoy hosting dinner parties, Dupar says the DIY trend works on a smaller scale. For example, she recommends a Korean bibimbap bowl with cooked warm rice and add-in options such as sautéed shiitake mushrooms, spinach, wakame, sprouts, sesame seed carrots and pickled daikon, fried egg and optional bulgogi beef slices.

And for dessert, Dupar says that cookie decorating will never go out of style. For a simple DIY dessert that will delight your guests, provide bowls of fun sprinkles and icing for people to “play with” as they decorate sugar cookies.

Lisa Dupar Catering is known for creating true culinary experiences. We are a chef-owned, woman-led company built on Lisa’s Southern roots, classic training and modern techniques. With 35 years of experience catering in Seattle, we bring your vision to life.