Nutrition, philosophy-driven choices top menu trends

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — Nutrition and philosophy-driven choices will be the major trends on restaurant menus in 2009, according to a National Restaurant Association survey of professional chefs. Given these trends, local produce, bite-sized desserts, organics, healthful kid’s meals and new cuts of meat are on the top of the third annual "What’s Hot" chef survey.

Other high-ranking trends include kid’s vegetable/fruit side dishes, superfruits, and sustainable seafood.

"Creativity has always been a hallmark of professional chefs," said Dawn Sweeney, president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association. "Today’s marketplace offers more options than ever before. As the wider trend of health continues to grow, the trend of choosing certain foods to follow one’s personal philosophy has also gained momentum in the culinary world. As interest in food and the culinary arts grows in the United States, consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about the food they eat and chefs are putting their enormous talents to work to fulfill the demand for dishes that follow these trends."

Illustrating the impact of nutrition and health as a theme, nutritionally balanced children’s dishes and side items, produce and fruit items, smaller dishes, fish and gluten-free/allergy-conscious meals were all seen as important. An emphasis on local sourcing, organics, artisanal items, sustainable seafood and free-range pork-poultry are all factors that are a part of the trend toward philosophy-driven food choices.

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