Asian, Vegan, Or Keto: Seder Menus Are Leaning Trendy
Is your seder leaning Asian, vegan, or keto this year? A new report says you’re not alone.
Experiments are trumping tradition at many Passover tables, according to Tastewise, a Tel Aviv startup that analyzes social-media posts for “food intelligence” and trend data.
Among the findings in Tastewise’s Easter and Passover Food Trends Report:
Instead of relying on Ashkenazi comfort food, Jewish cooks are trying “new fusions” with Mexican and Japanese influences, swapping shank bones for vegan options like beets on the seder plate, and sharing “supergreens” like wakame instead of bitter herbs.
Part of the shift stems from social media itself, said Tastewise founder Alon Chen, a former Google exec. “Today innovation today comes from everywhere. Even an amateur home chef or a small restaurant can inspire the world to make almost every dish with rainbow colors,” he told the Forward in an e-mail. Food photos on Instagram, for example, can have wide-ranging ripple effects on cooking habits everywhere.
Tastewise analyzes images, posts, and recipes on social-media platforms “to tap into culinary predilections to understand consumer behavior and accurately predict trends.” The six-month-old company’s clients include restaurants, hospitality groups, and food brands, including Pure Grey, a food and beverage consulting firm owned by Marriott International, Chen said. The firm’s database also includes more than 150,000 restaurant menus.
Chen said his own family’s Shabbat dinners inspired the launch of Tastewise. “Before each meal, my mother asks us, ‘What are your dietary requirements this week?’ If my own family couldn’t keep track of each other’s diets, I realized that restaurants and food brands must have a much more difficult time keeping up with food trends,” he said. “Tastewise was built to bring data and insights to an industry that’s hungry for innovation.
The Forward asked Chen for a Tastewise take on Jewish food in general, and he obligingly crunched the data.
“While Jewish holidays bring families together around more traditional Jewish food like gefilte fish, chopped liver, and knishes, the growth of these dishes in restaurants menus is very small compared to other more healthy Mediterranean/Israeli food,” he said.
For example, gefilte fish growth in restaurants menus week over week is 0.83%, corned beef is 0.87%, chopped liver is 0.25%, knishes is 0.78% and pastrami is 0.82%) — while hummus is 1.53%, tahini is 1.62% and zhoug is 3.72%, according to Tastewise.
Shakshuka, Chen noted, is growing by 4.23% on restaurants menus, and green shakshuka “is enjoying a 200% growth on social mentions year over year.”
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