FOOD! The Hot List

This it it!  the hottest list in the world when it comes to global catering trends. This is the little black book of food forecasting used by the country’s leading chefs and culinary designers to prepare their masterpiece menus for events from the Oscars to the Indy!  The annual National Restaurant Association survey of American Culinary Federation compiles input from nearly 1,800 professional chefs rating their take on whether 223 culinary items will be a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite” on restaurant menus in 2012.

According to Joy Dubost, Ph.D, R.D., director of Nutrition & Healthy Living for the National Restaurant Association
    “The top menu trends we’re seeing in our What’s Hot  survey reflect the macro-trends we have seen grow over the last several years. Nutrition – especially when it comes to children – is becoming a major focus for the nation’s nearly one million restaurants, in tune with consumers’ increasing interest in healthful eating.”  Dubost says “Local sourcing of everything – from meat and fish, to produce, to alcoholic beverages – is another big trend. Local farms and food producers have become an important source of ingredients for chefs and restaurateurs wishing to support the members of their business community and highlight seasonal ingredients on menus. 

Trending in Food

  1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
  2. Locally grown produce
  3. Healthful kids’ meals
  4. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
  5. Sustainability
  6. Children’s nutrition
  7. Gluten-free/food allergy conscious
  8. Locally-produced wine and beer
  9. Sustainable seafood
  10. Whole grain items in kids’ meals
  11. Newly fabricated cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, Petite Tender)
  12. Farm/estate-branded ingredients
  13. Food trucks/street food
  14. Micro-distilled/artisan spirits
  15. Artisan/house-made ice cream
  16. Health/nutrition
  17. Non-traditional fish (e.g. branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)
  18. Fruit/vegetable children’s side items
  19.  “Mini meals” (e.g. smaller versions of adult menu items)
  20. Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients, herb-infused)

Trending in Catering

We’ve pulled together a snapshot of the hottest items on the menu for the upcoming social and corporate event calendar. We hope you agree with our delicious selection from the Chef’s Top 10 Lists. For the full lists click here.

  1. Food inspired appetizers (e.g. tempura, taquitos, kabobs, hummus)
  2. Exotic fruits (e.g. rambutan, dragon fruit, paw paw, guava)
  3. Artisan/house-made ice cream
  4. Cuban inspired cuisine
  5. Black Rice
  6. Artisan bacons
  7. Paneer
  8. On-site barrel aged drinks
  9. Asian flavored cocktails (e.g. lemongrass, lychee, Thai basil)
  10. Game meats
  11. UmamiD
  12. Duck
  13. Wine on tap
  14. Braising
  15. Hybrid fruits/vegetables (e.g. plumcot, grapple, broccoflower)
  16. Wasabi
  17. Street Trucks & Indie vendors
  18. Mac & cheese
  19. Polenta
  20. Olive bars

Readers Poll

When we asked our readers to weigh in their most requested  items of the past year. Its not necessarily a Hot List because these are the “most popular” treats so read on but take note – if you are looking for unique…. avoid the following as they have had their moment in the spotlight… or should we say the warming lamp!

  1. Mini Sliders
  2. Pulled Pork
  3. Mini Grill Cheese
  4. Cotton Candy Cocktails
  5. Candy Tables
  6. Illuminated Cocktails
  7. Massive meals…. preference is for small tasting plates
  8. BBQ
  9. Mashed Potato Martinis and other heavy starches (try sweet potato fries)
  10. Noodles Boxes