Hottest restaurant trends

Local sourcing of ingredients, sustainability and nutrition will be the hottest trends on restaurant menus in 2010, according to the Washington, D.C.-based The National Restaurant Association's annual survey of more than 1,800 professional chefs - members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF). Locally grown produce, locally sourced meats and seafood, sustainability, mini-desserts and locally produced wine and beer top the list of nearly 215 culinary items in the "What's Hot in 2010" survey. Rounding out the top 10 trends are nutritious kids' meals, half-portions, farm-branded ingredients, gluten-free/food-allergy conscious meals and sustainable seafood.

 

Topping categories within the survey are: amuse bouche and mini-burgers/sliders in appetizers; quinoa and braised vegetables in side items/starches; ethnic-inspired and traditional ethnic items in breakfast/brunch; bite-size desserts and artisan/house-made ice cream in desserts; regional and fusion in ethnic cuisines; artisan cheeses and black garlic in ingredients; and specialty iced tea and organic coffee in nonalcoholic beverages.

 

Nutrition is another culinary theme that ranks high on the list of trends at number 15. Healthful options for children, produce, superfruits, bite-size and half portions, and food allergy conscious and gluten-free meals all rank in the top 20, illustrating that consumer interest in health and nutrition continues to grow and that restaurants are responding.

 

Other menu trends in the top 20 include farm-/estate-branded ingredients, regional ethnic cuisine, non-traditional fish (including barramundi and Arctic char), and newly fabricated cuts of meat (including Denver steak and pork flat iron). Simplicity as a culinary theme and smaller portions for a smaller price are also menu trends for 2010, reflecting the shift in consumer preferences toward value and comfort during the economic downturn.

 

When it comes to the drink menu, locally produced wine and beer is the fifth hottest trend on the What's Hot in 2010 survey. Other alcohol items in the top 20 chef-rated menu trends include culinary/savory cocktails and artisan liquor.

 

In the preparation methods category, liquid nitrogen freezing/chilling was ranked as the number-one trend, followed by braising, sous vide, smoking and oil-poaching/confit.