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What’s Cooking 

An Emeryville “foodcaster” reveals what you’ll be eating next.


Chris Lauer

Age: 61  From: Fresno  Lives In: Oakland

Professional food trendologist Marc Halperin doesn’t need a crystal ball. For help spotting the next big thing in restaurants—whether it’s superfoods, ancient grains, or heritage pork—the former chef and founder of Emeryville’s CCD Innovation consults his council of nearly 100 elite members of the restaurant community. He knows who’s influencing what you eat, what to expect on your plate, and how food and fashion are similar.  


1. Which group is driving food trends?

Millennials are hugely influential on fast casual dining, with their “flexitarian” ways (less meat, more veggies), love for mash-ups (mixing cuisines), and desire for bold flavors.


2. What’s the next big thing on the food scene?

Vegetables! Expect a fat slice of grilled or sautéed cauliflower in the center of your plate instead of a steak. And the new comfort food is already here: Vietnamese pho.


3. What makes us crave new foods?

Humans are innately curious and have finite attention spans. We are always looking for something to stimulate our palates and emotions.


4. Do food trends recycle, like in fashion?

Sometimes. Ten years ago, gluten-free was huge. Three years later, it died; now it has come back even stronger as consumers become more educated about gluten intolerance.


5. How would you describe the East Bay?

It’s more relaxed than San Francisco, and it’s become the place for restaurateurs to try out new concepts. We can enjoy anything, from French haute cuisine to injera, Ethiopian flatbread.

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