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Our Chefs Look Ahead to 2022

December 23, 2021

Another year lies ahead of us—likely strewn with a few curve balls—but, full of possibilities for creativity, ingenuity, and resilience. As part of looking forward, we recently talked with our culinary team about the coming year. In discussing trends, operations, challenges, and hopes, we found the following themes amongst their forecast for 2022. Here’s the chefs’ perspectives.


Adjust, shift, evolve, pivot, modify. We’ve heard these words countless times since March of 2020, and there’s no doubt they’ll continue to be a part of our daily vocabulary. A flexible mindset, operation, and pantry will serve you well through 2022. Considerations of outdoor dining, delivery/carryout, efficient packaging, and ghost kitchen operations are encouraged as additional revenue streams and solutions to potential roadblocks. Narrowing down obstinate, broad-range menus will make you less dependent on reliable supply chains and a large, experienced kitchen staff. Smaller crews and less experience make the perfect case for speed scratch. Stocking these related products will provide quality and versatility. Be sure to check out the many Custom Culinary® products that can stretch across menu parts, day parts, and cuisines for a flexible pantry that will reduce labor, food waste, and food costs.


The team is excited to see how plant-based eating and items continue to evolve. The desire for nutritional benefits, growth of flexitarians, and supply chain constraints all lend themselves to menuing plant-based options in foodservice. Our chefs are certain we will continue to see a rise in nostalgic and comforting classics with plant-based spins such as vegan meatballs, veggie pot pies, and jackfruit tacos. From meat-eaters to vegans, it’s hard to say no to an indulgent dish that’s filled with functional fuel.

Culture & Crew:

The labor challenges the industry is facing are draining, but remember, the only thing more important than making new hires is taking care of the crew you already have. Our team advises to create a true team culture in your restaurants. Operators must foster an environment and create policies that attract and keep staff. Prioritizing learning opportunities, genuine interactions, constructive feedback, encouragement, and rewards are just a handful of ways to nurture and maintain staff. These approaches also naturally lead to educated team members that will understand and uphold your standards. A happy, productive crew leads to satisfied customers who will come back.


We must continue to be vigilant about safety and sanitation not only as our duty to our communities to mitigate the spread of disease, but to ease customer and employee worries. Overt sanitation through messaging/signage, policies, and procedures should still be a priority.

Flavors & Formats:

As for specific flavors, formats, and ingredients, here’s the running list that our culinary team expects to see grow in 2022:

  • Global hot flavors with notes of sweetness such as Korean gochujang, Indonesian sambal, Mexican tajin, and Japanese furikake
  • Influences from Korean, Peruvian, and African cuisines
  • Upscale comfort classics
  • Seasonal ingredients
  • Fun and whimsical foods like carnival cuisine

Whatever 2022 throws our way, we’re here to help you through it. Which leads us to the last thing our chefs are hoping for in 2022…seeing you in person! Perhaps we will get the opportunity to get in the kitchen together once again next year. We wish you the happiest holiday season and hope to hear from you in the new year.

Richard Reilly, WCMC, CEC, CCA, AAC
Senior Director of Culinary
Custom Culinary, Inc.