Infographic: What's hot and not in 2014

by Monica Watrous
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WASHINGTON — Goodbye, gazpacho. Hello, hybrid desserts.

As 2013 welcomed the debut of a donut-croissant mash-up known as the Cronut, more crossbreed confections may be on the horizon, according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot culinary trends forecast. Think brownie tarts and ice cream sandwiched between cupcakes or whoopee pies.

Infographic: What’s Hot (and not) in 2014.

Meanwhile, such tired trends as fish offal and chilled soups may move off menus.

The forecast is based on a survey of nearly 1,300 professional chefs and members of the American Culinary Federation.

Some of 2009’s top 20 trends are showing signs of slipping, including the flatbread, which rolled out across the quick-service and casual-dining landscape this year with launches from Pizza Hut, Chili’s and Wendy’s.

Health-driven dishes are heating up, with kale salads and such natural sweeteners as agave and maple syrup rising to the top of the trend forecast, bumping bacon-flavored or –covered chocolate items. Fifty-nine per cent of chefs surveyed said they always make efforts to improve the nutritional profile of their dishes, whether by including more fruit and vegetables or reducing sodium, while 33% said not all recipes are easily adjusted.

Another emerging trend reflects a style of dining popular among millennials: snacking, sampling and sharing. Grazing is growing, with small plates menus unveiled this year from Olive Garden and TGI Friday’s. Miniaturization has become a “menu must-have,” said restaurant trends expert Nancy Kruse during a Sept. 12 webinar presented by the N.R.A.

“The small plates phenomenon … has been huge,” Ms. Kruse said. “For a customer who’s maybe a little bit unsure about (an item) and would like to give it a test run, these are nice small bites — controlled-portion, controlled-calorie, cost-controlled and really day part flexible, as well.”
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