Culinary Forecast for 2014

Culinary Forecast for 2014

What will be on your menu next year? The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has completed its culinary forecast for 2014. To make the prediction, NRA surveys almost 1,300 chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation.

In a nutshell, it’s time to look in your own backyard if you aren’t already doing that. Healthy options (with a focus on children’s nutrition) led the list with 40 percent of the Top 20 list falling into that general category, followed by locally grown and sourced items and sustainability. There shouldn’t be too many surprises on the Top 20 list since half of the entries have been a Top 20 trend since 2009.

The Top 20:

  • Locally sourced meats and seafood
  • Locally grown produce*
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Healthy kids’ meals*
  • Gluten-free cuisine*
  • Hyper-local sourcing (restaurant garden)
  • Children’s nutrition
  • Non-wheat noodles/pasta (quinoa, rice, buckwheat)
  • Sustainable seafood*
  • Farm/estate branded items
  • Nose-to-tail/root-to stalk-cooking (reduce waste by using it all)
  • Whole grain items in kids’ meals
  • Health/nutrition*
  • New cuts of meat (Denver steak, pork flat iron, tri-tip)*
  • Ancient grains (Kamut®, spelt, amaranth)*
  • Ethnically inspired breakfast items (Asian-flavored syrups, Chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)*
  • Grazing (small-plate sharing/snacking rather than traditional meals)
  • Non-traditional fish (branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)*
  • Fruit/vegetable children’s sides*
  • Half-portions/smaller portions for reduced price

*Top 20 trend since 2009.

2014 Alcohol Trends

Like the top culinary trends for 2014, the top alcohol trends are also leaning toward the concept of local, and a movement toward gluten-free appears here too.

Top 10 alcohol trends:

  • Microdistilled/artisan spirits
  • Locally produced beer/wine/spirits
  • Onsite barrel-aged drinks
  • Culinary cocktails (savory, fresh ingredients)
  • Regional signature cocktails
  • “New Make” whiskey
  • Gluten-free beer
  • Edible cocktails
  • Food-liquor/cocktail pairings
  • Food-beer pairings

Other Culinary and Restaurant Trends

The survey also asked what current culinary trends would still be the hottest menu trends ten years from now. Environmental sustainability led the list (38%), followed by local sourcing (22%), health/nutrition (18%), children’s nutrition (10%), and gluten-free cuisine (8%).

It’s no surprise that the hottest tech trends for 2014 focused on tablet computers and smartphones. Using tablet computers (e.g. iPad for menus, ordering, etc.) and smartphone and tablet apps for consumers let the way with 27 and 25 percent, respectively. Those were followed by smartphone and tablet apps for chefs/restaurateurs (e.g. recipes, table management, POS tracking) (19%), mobile/wireless payment option (16%), and social medial for marketing and loyalty programs (13%).

The Top Movers & Shakers for 2013-14 (those that were up five percent or more) included:

  • Nose-to-tail/root-to stalk-cooking (+16%)
  • Pickling (+11%)
  • Ramen (+11%)
  • Dark Greens (+10%)
  • Southeast Asian Cuisine (+9%)

At the other end of the spectrum the top five that were down five percent or more for 2013-14 include:

  • Greek yogurt (-11%)
  • Sweet potato fries (-8%)
  • New cuts of meat (-7%)
  • Grass-fed beef (-7%)
  • Organic coffee (-7%)

Think local, sustainable, healthy, and high tech as the culinary and restaurant forecast for the coming year, and your establishment will be trendy.