What culinary trends emerged from living through a full year of a pandemic, when restaurants and the hotels that house them were rocked by closures and reduced capacity, and cruise ships and their many eateries were shut down? We dig in.


The first of Travel Weekly’s biannual culinary issues arrives just shy of the one-year anniversary of Covid-19 being declared a pandemic.

This has meant a year of periodic closures of restaurants and the hotels that house them; the full-year shutdown of cruise ships and their many eateries; and restrictions on the number of diners inside establishments that are open.

All of this has had an undeniable impact on the food service and consumer dining experiences, as the need to both feed people and find sustainable business models has changed eating habits, restaurant operations and food service trends.

Changed, or forever changed? Some of the culinary trends we highlight on the following pages may not outlast the pandemic. Will flyers crave airplane food on land once they are back in the sky? Will hotels sacrifice guestrooms for private dining spaces once occupancy restrictions end?

But others seem destined to last. Technology that enables touchless food ordering and delivery (and less queueing up) is a welcome advance in or out of a pandemic. Outdoor dining became a necessity in 2020, but after experiencing the imaginative use of space, born of necessity, consumers may pursue novel alfresco options for years to come.

And 2020 was not only about the pandemic. It was a year of racial reckoning, in which the travel industry was one of many to come to terms with long-standing issues of representation. Without the creativity and contributions of people of color, culinary travel as we know it wouldn’t exist. Recognition of that should not be considered a trend, but a standard.

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