The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) “What’s Hot in 2013” survey of more than 1,800 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – reveals that children’s nutrition and local sourcing will continue to be the hottest trends on restaurant menus. The chefs also said the best ways to address rising food costs is to change menus, adjust plate composition and explore sourcing options.
The top 10 menu trends for 2013 will be:
1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Locally grown produce
3. Healthful kids' meals
4. Environmental sustainability as a culinary theme
5. Children's nutrition as a culinary theme
6. New cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, teres major)
7. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
8. Gluten-free cuisine
9. Sustainable seafood
10. Whole grain items in kids' meals
Items that received the highest scores as waning trends (i.e. yesterday’s news) are: froth/air/foam, ramen, gazpacho, “fun-shaped” children’s items, mini-burgers/sliders, flavored/enhanced water, bacon-flavored chocolate, flavored popcorn, fish collars, and desserts with bacon.
Items that received the highest scores as perennial favorites are: Italian cuisine, hamburgers/cheeseburgers, egg dishes, French toast, barbeque, fruit desserts (cobbler, pie, tart), comfort foods, grilling, milkshakes and Mexican cuisine.
Also included in the survey were questions about technology trends, rising food costs, and nutritious recipes. More than half (55 percent) of the chefs said they always make efforts to adjust dishes and recipes to be more healthful, while 37 percent said they cook with nutrition in mind, but that not all recipes are easily adjusted.
When asked how to best handle the increasing cost of ingredients, one-third (32 percent) said changing menus, one-quarter (25 percent) said adjusting plate composition, and another quarter (24 percent) said exploring new sourcing options. Only 4 percent said that raising menu prices is the best strategy.
Just over one-quarter of the chefs (27 percent) ranked tablet computers, such as iPads, as the hottest technology trend in restaurants in 2013, followed closely by smartphone apps (25 percent). Nineteen percent said mobile/wireless/pay-at-the-table options will be the hottest tech trend.
Highlighting that the restaurant industry is one of opportunity for advancement and entrepreneurship, nine out of 10 (89 percent) of the chefs started their foodservice career at entry level, with dishwasher, busser, line cook and prep cook being the most common first jobs.
For complete survey results, visit Restaurant.org/FoodTrends.