Trend watch: Dandelion, salsa macha, charcoal

By Katie Belflower

In our latest edition of Trend Watch with Technomic, we are focusing on three current top menu trends across Canada, showcasing some of the restaurants that are creatively and successfully adding these items, flavours, or ingredients to their menus. This edition focuses on dandelion, salsa macha, and charcoal.


Dandelions are hardy perennial weeds bearing edible flowers, leaves, roots, and stems with a sharp, bitter flavour. Operators are spotlighting this weed in salads and greens dishes to add antioxidant and immune-boosting properties to the menu.

Menu examples:

  • The Courtney Room in Victoria, British Columbia, served Warm Potato and Dandelion Salad with fennel, caramelized honey, and spruce vinaigrette
  • Buca in Toronto menued Cicoria with braised Ontario dandelion, garlic, lemon, and Terre di San Mauro olive oil

Salsa macha

Independent operators are spotlighting salsa macha, a regional variation of a classic condiment. This salsa varietal originates in Veracruz, Mexico, and is made with dried peppers, nuts, and oil. The slightly spicy, nutty salsa is appearing as a complement to veggie and meat dishes on menus.

Menu examples:

  • Gitanes in Ottawa, Ontario, offered Tuna Crudo with ajo blanco, salsa macha, and grapes
  • Parquet in Toronto served Grilled Broccolini with Panisse and peanut salsa macha


Charcoal is showing up at independent operators in a variety of applications, including as an oil or dressing, featured in both salad and meat dishes. This quirky ingredient gives food a smoky, earthy taste as well as a striking black colour, and is thought to have functional health benefits such as improving digestion.

Menu examples:

  • Winebar Kensington in Calgary, Alberta, menued Local Beets with Radish Leaf Wrapped Paillot de Chevre, toasted pecans, and charcoal dressing
  • Canoe in Toronto offered Game Tartare with venison parfait, barbecued asparagus, charcoal oil, pickled evergreen shallots, and potato lattice

Trend Watch is based on menu trends noted by Technomic.

Katie Belflower is Associate Editor for Technomic, a Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights, and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions, and results. The company’s services include publications and digital products as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry, including menu trends.