Catering Trends 2013

The Food Channel has released its 2013 Trends Forecast – Epicrious weighed in and many other foodies have 2013 locked down in terms of what we can expect. Here's a look at what we see happening in the world of food for 2013.


Smokin’ Hot. Some people call it the new bacon, although, for the record, bacon is smoked meat, too. Smoking—as in smoked foods and beverages—is big and getting bigger. Think of the strangest food you can… smoked cocktails, smoked olive oil, and even smoked water. Nordic/Scandinavian cuisine is one to watch in the coming year, too, and you’ll find a variety of smoked food choices driving that trend.

2013 will be the year of vegetables. They're even in dessert. Battersby in Brooklyn offers a Fennel Panna Cotta, Michel Richard makes a Maple Parsnip Cake, and Avocado Mousse at Tilth in Seattle. Talk about sneaking in the veggies!

With the World Cup in Brazil only about 18 months away, Brazilian fare is about to take the world by storm.Panpepato is the old name meaning “peppered bread”.. Panforte or Panforte de Sienna is the most usual name meaning “Strong Bread” and they are turning up everywhere.
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Handcrafted from wild agave plants, mezcal has always been an artisanal product historically seen as tequila's poorer cousin. But with a massive PR push by the Mexican government and more producers making more of this smoky spirit available Stateside, it's only a matter of time before mezcal finds its way into a cocktail near you.

Brunch Becomes the New Fourth Meal. The late-morning meal that usurps breakfast and dinner is becoming the hot new meal occasion. You can find eateries that feature karaoke during brunch, or offer a free-flowing Bloody Mary Bar. Suggest your client host a brunch, serving such choices as fried chicken, buttermilk pancakes and cinnamon toast pizza.

Seasonals for All Seasons – Traditional seasons are getting stretched out, with treats like pumpkin muffins in the summer. The health benefits and the flavor are turning the fall favorite into a year-round flavor in all kinds of dishes. Restaurant chefs have increased their use of pumpkin on menus by nearly 40 percent in the last two years.


Cooking to a Tea. Earl Grey and other tea flavors are starting to be used in cooking. The consumption of tea in general is still growing, and now it’s moving beyond beverage onto the ingredient list for some menu items. For one thing, teas have great names and can help spice up a menu in many ways.  Look for tea rubs, the way there are coffee and cocoa rubs. Tea…it’s not just for drinking anymore.

Comfort Food with an Ethnic Accent. Yes, we still love our meatloaf, roast chicken and mac & cheese. But younger generations have expanded what fits into this nostalgic category, with an emphasis on ethnic cuisines. Comfort food for the twenty- and  thirty-something crowd includes choices like Japanese ramen, Korean kimchi, Chinese pot stickers, sun cakes and Vietnamese pho. Look for new twists in the coming year like jumbo-sized “man sushi.”


Homemade deserts and cakes are in. Cupcakes were huge in 2012 since they were cost-effective and they came in a variety of styles and flavors and not to mention easy to make. However, all popular ventures must come to an end and there is a new hot thing in town.  Pies, cobblers and classic crumbles are now in over the elegant wedding cakes and dainty cupcakes, and these are usually paired with a modern touch such as experimental flavors – think avocado sorbet to accompany key lime pie or even smoked caramel ice cream with pecan pie. You can really add a unique touch to these classics with a little imagination. Grown up versions of childhood treats are also rather fun, like bourbon and maple popsicles or raspberry champagne freeze ices in wrappers. They’re oh so elegant and chic and your guests will go nuts.

Illegal Dining. Years ago it was called Clandestine Dining, where people were setting up Pop-Up restaurants that you had to be invited to in order to even know they existed. Then came along food trucks and people started to realize that restaurant food could show up in unexpected places. Now, it’s “hush dining,” fueled by Twitter and the spirit of entrepreneurship—but not legally licensed as a business. There are a lot of people out there with great ideas on how to change a meal, make it their own, and make it the way nobody else has—but they don't have the capital or the time to start a restaurant. So they're printing business cards and setting up a Twitter account, going to farmers markets and utilizing word of mouth to create an on-order kitchen out of their home. It's half thrill of the hunt and half genuinely homemade (with a little black market appeal thrown in the mix) that eggs on diners looking for the next food truck and the next dive—beyond social media. It’s an evolution of both Pop-Up dining and of food trucks, and we think, while business licenses are there for a reason, it will be interesting to see how this evolves new ideas and new approaches to the difficult business of running a restaurant.