For many years, Jamaican culture has dominated the world stage in offerings and innovations.
And, despite the influx of new food trends, traditional Jamaican cuisine continues to be popular.
Some of the most iconic Jamaican dishes include jerk chicken, ackee and salt fish, curry goat, and rice and peas.
The culinary space locally has been through several iterations of reinventing and renewal, pre- and post-COVID.
In fact, the Jamaican gastronomy scene only emerged from the pandemic stronger than it had been in previous years – more ideas were borne from the pandemic during a time when all we could do was chillax and grub.
Local chefs are blending different culinary traditions with Jamaican flavours to create unique and exciting dishes that include Jam-fusion cuisines like Jamaican jerk tacos, Jamaican curry chicken pizza, the beyond flatbread from TacBar and Jamaican-style sushi.
Street food and food trucks have become increasingly popular in Jamaica, offering a variety of local dishes like jerk chicken, patties, and fried fish.
Plant-based food businesses are one-such zhooshed-up food category. More people are adopting plant-based diets, and there is a growing demand for vegan and vegetarian options in restaurants and grocery stores.
Yet, as the demand for plant-based food options continues to grow globally, Jamaican cuisine is also adapting by offering more vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Plant-based Jamaican cuisine typically features dishes made with jackfruit, tofu, and vegetables like callaloo, pumpkin, okra, and even the flower of a plant.
Sustainable and locally sourced foods was another welcomed channel as more and more locals relied on the fruits of our labour to endure the shuttered freight agencies.
Plus, with consumers becoming more aware of the environmental impact of food production, they are seeking out sustainable and locally sourced ingredients.
And while many lounged in the comforts of their homes, comfort food with a twist staked its claim.
Chefs began adding unique spins on classic comfort foods, such as mac and cheese, fried chicken, and burgers.
From serving up-deboned ‘fried chicken’ – a meatless option; or looking to nether regions for newer ingredients to ‘beef’ up their burgers. And, when you thought mac and cheese couldn’t get more innovative, home cooks are busy turning in just about anything from the pantry ‘to make it pop’.
Then there are the eateries that come with a take on global fusion cuisine. Some restaurants are blending different culinary traditions to create unique and exciting flavour combinations, such as the newly christened Buzo Jamaica that’s inspired by Italian culinary style and the French-Jam-inspired Le Vendome Restaurant.
Health-focused foods have also seen a surge with keto diets based on a growing interest in health and wellness.
In recent years, there has been a shift towards healthier eating habits in Jamaica, with more emphasis on fresh and locally sourced ingredients. The average meal now holds more fresh fruits and vegetables with a deliberate focus on making them healthier.
Foods that are high in protein, low in carbs, and rich in nutrients are becoming more popular, and are populating menus at several local restaurants.
After all, many of these trends aren’t new – many of which have just been named and made popular by the culinary investors that experience our offerings on occasion.
It’s worth noting, however, that food trends can, and often vary depending on location, culture, and other factors. In Jamaica, however, new trends are determined by talented Jamaicans of all ages – who are inspired, and innovative, and sometimes are not members of the local culinary industry.