Benchmark, a global hospitality company, queried their restaurateurs across 80 luxury properties at home and abroad to compile a list of dining trends for 2020. Here’s the forkful on planning fresh offerings for your next event:


You’ve probably heard of this extract, now popular in everything from hand lotion to dog treats. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that comes from hemp, with touted anti-inflammatory benefits that include easing stress, anxiety and pain.

Consider crafting cocktails with a CBD tincture. Some research suggests CBD can help with nausea, and the supplement may increase feelings of ease for those who imbibe. After all, who couldn’t use a little liquid meditation?

Plant Power

Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger has earned its way onto menus across well-known establishments, but it’s just the start of plant-based foods on the scene to replace traditional animal-based options. While pastured animal products are an eco-friendlier option, many are opting to explore vegan and vegetarian alternatives.

Vegan chow has come a long way from tofurkey and vegetable oil spreads. Inventive cream cheeses made from almonds or cashews are a lighter option for the breakfast buffet, while plant “milks” made from cashews and even pistachios provide endless opportunities for coffee concoctions. Even if you opt to include traditional fare, serving one of these as an alternative is a stand-out way to please those with expanding plant-palettes.

Snack Attack

Crispy, puffy or crunchy, most everyone has a guilty pleasure when it comes to snacking—guilty because many a classic chip is made of wheat, corn and additives. The future of snacking is here, driving away from bland GMO crops and into a future of bright flavors in sweet and savory options that derive their texture from cassava, beets, chickpeas and a variety of other veggies—and even sustainable, seasoned meats. Yes, chicken chips are a thing.


This tropical fruit is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine in products from cakes to soups, but thanks to its hearty texture and subtle flavor, it has made its Western debut as a contender in plant-based main dishes.

Think of jackfruit as a textural swap for pulled pork in savory dishes—fill tacos, shred it on flatbread or stuff it into acorn squash. As the fruit matures, it softens and sweetens, making it perfect for frozen desserts.

Make It Fruitful

Unique fruits are buzzworthy in building craft drinks, as hybrid and foreign fruits offer nuanced updates to classic recipes. Spiny cactus fruits such as prickly pear and dragonfruit are especially noticed for their brilliant hues and funky decorative properties, while the sweet, mild pomelo is a good stand-in for grapefruit. Shake things up by swapping plain-jane lemons for Japanese yuzu or Filipino kalamansi.

Oat Cuisine

The plant-milk market is exploding with options, making soy about as current as channel surfing. Even so, creamy, versatile oat milk shines above the rest. Particularly loved by baristas for playing nice with coffee, it’s also turning up as a base in yogurt and frozen desserts. If you do one thing with it, make it your dairy-sub at the coffee bar. It’s bound to cause a stir.

Bubbly is Beautiful

Sparkling water and non-soda carbonated beverages are dominating the fridge aisles these days. It’s no surprise, as healthier food and drink options are a growing focus, and many people are consciously reducing their sugar intake. If you’re looking to engage diners with your drink list, it isn’t all about the alcohol.

Offer kombucha, shrubs and flavored sparkling bases on their own, or mix with seasonal fruit juices to craft vivid libations that everyone can enjoy.

Color Pop

Good presentation has always considered color, but in the age of #instaworthy bright and bold hues are a must. Get #nofilter props by incorporating singular ingredients like matcha, hibiscus, algae and butterfly pea to elevate your canvas and get your attendees excited to share their visual delights.