A survey of nearly 1,300 members of the American Culinary Federation revealed the top two food trends for restaurants in 2015 are locally sourced meat and seafood and locally grown produce, followed closely by environmental sustainability and hyper-local sourcing.
“It’s only natural that culinary themes like local sourcing, sustainability and nutrition top our list of menu trends for 2015. Those concepts are wider lifestyle choices for many Americans in other aspects of their lives that also translate into the food space,” Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research at the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement.
Chefs are diving deeper into local trends, beyond restaurant gardens, to offer more house-made, farm-branded and artisanal items, as well as signature items made from scratch, such as ice-cream, pickles and beer, the association notes.
The maturing trend of environmental sustainability also makes sense going forward as food costs continue to rise and restaurants try to control costs by minimizing waste and surplus. Likewise, many restaurants are composting, recycling and donating as ways to further reduce waste, the trade group notes.
Adventurous eaters want global flavors
At the same time that consumers want hyper-local food, they increasingly want more global and ethnic cuisines, according to the National Restaurant Association.
“Ethnic cuisine continues its inroads with mainstream menus” with ramen, ethnic street food-inspired appetizers and fusion cuisine gaining momentum, the association notes.
In addition, ethnic-inspired breakfast items will be big in 2015 with 67% of chefs considering the items hot. Options finding their way on to more plates will include Asian-flavored syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs and coconut milk pancakes, according to the report.
Children’s menus get an update
Children’s menus also are becoming more adventurous and healthy, according to the survey results.
“Gone are the days when kids’ menus were nothing but hot dogs and things shaped like cartoon characters and dinosaurs,” the association notes. Now meals feature whole grains, vegetables, oven-baked items and even entrée salads.
According to the survey, 75% of chefs said healthful kids’ meals were hot, 68% said whole grains in children’s meals were hot and 65% said the same about fruit and vegetable side items.
Ethnic foods in children’s menus, however, are down 6% with only 56% of chefs calling them trendy compared to 32% who say they are yesterday’s news.
Is kale’s time at the top over?
Kale – ostensibly every chef’s darling for the past few years – may finally be falling out of favor. The percentage of chefs who consider kale salads “hot” fell 10% with only 49% of those surveyed still considering it hot and 41% dismissing it as yesterday’s news.
That said, the majority of chefs surveyed – 59% – still think dark greens, including kale, are on the rise.
Bruschetta and nose-to-tail cooking also tumbled 10% this year. Fewer than a quarter of chefs think bruschetta is hot and only 36% think it has the staying power of a perennial favorite. Nose-to-tail food fared slightly better with 61% still considering it trendy and 18% considering it a year-after-year favorite.
Other popular foods that are beginning to lose steam are Greek yogurt, down 6%, hybrid desserts like the croissant-donut, down 8%, house-made sodas, down 8%, and gluten-free foods, down 7%, according to the survey.