Food Industry

Ethnic Breakfasts, Culinary Cocktails and Local Chow Hot in 2011

Isn't it a little sad that child nutrition is a trend? Hey, let's feed kids nutritious food because, you know, everyone is doing it.

A National Restaurant Association survey asked 1,500 chefs to predict the hottest menu ideas for 2011 by rating 226 items as "hot trend," "yesterday's news" or "perennial favorite." Nutrition - children's and otherwise - figured several times in what chefs deemed the hottest trends for next year.

The results were not entirely surprising. Dominating the list were locally grown produce and locally sourced meats and seafood. If being trendy is what it takes for chefs to pay attention to sourcing, I'm all for that, but hopefully we won't see a spike in empty buzz words on menus.

Also hot: sustainability, farm ingredients, organic produce, local beers, restaurant gardens and artisanal liquors. A third of the chefs said food trucks and pop-up restaurants will be the hottest operational trend next year. Nothing shocking there. Here's the top 20 list.

1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Locally grown produce
3. Sustainability
4. Nutritionally balanced children's dishes
5. Hyper-local (e.g. restaurant gardens, do your own butchering)
6. Children's nutrition
7. Sustainable seafood
8. Gluten-free/food allergy conscious
9. Simplicity/back to basics
10. Farm/estate-branded ingredients
11. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor
12. Locally-produced wine and beer
13. Half-portions/smaller portion for a smaller price
14. Organic produce
15. Nutrition/health
16. Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients)
17. Newly fabricated cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, Petite Tender)
18. Fruit/vegetable children's side items
19. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. Asian-flavored syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes) 
20. Artisan cheeses
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Paula Niño
Contact: Paula Niño