You may be busy planning Christmas or New Year’s party food right now, but America’s restaurant chefs are one step ahead of you. They’re already hard at work cooking up new menus you’ll be feasting on all next year.
After we tire of sriracha and pretzel buns, what new tastes will we crave? There’s been a slew of trend forecasts released recently that give us a sample of what’s to come, from The National Restaurant Association as well as independent restaurant-research firms.
Put the forecasts all together, and you get an interesting picture of what we may find on our plates at restaurants soon.
We’ll see some menu items that were big in 2013continue to grow next year, as well as some emerging tastes that will be new to many diners.
The big trends were popular this year, too, but we’ll see interest accelerate in 2014, restaurant-watchers say. Other soon-to-be hot foods are still under the radar, but not for long. Three of the hottest culinary trends for next year:
1. Locally sourced everything
From produce to meats, consumer interest is growing in supporting local farms and avoiding food that’s trucked in, whether out of environmental concern or just because local food tends to be fresher and taste better.
Of the top ten food trends ranked in the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2014” chef survey, four touch on local sourcing — local meats and seafood, local produce, farm/estate branding to promote local purchasing, and “ hyper-local sourcing” (namely, restaurants with their own kitchen garden). To sum up, diners increasingly want to know where their food came from, and are seeking out local foods.
This trend goes hand-in-hand with concerns about the environment and sustainability in our food supply. Sustainable seafood and “environmental sustainability” were two more of the NRA’s 2014 top ten trends.
2. Instant ice cream
If there’s one thing Americans love, it’s instant gratification. Which is why buzz is building for Smitten Ice Cream’s treats, which are made from scratch in 90 seconds right in front of you. Smitten uses liquid nitrogen to freeze up your ice cream batch right when you order it, allowing Smitten to forgo the emulsifiers and additives that so often gunk up ice cream and give it a chemical aftertaste.
For a double-hit of trendiness, they’re also using locally sourced ingredients to create artisanal flavors like sticky-toffee pudding and cinnamon shortbread.
Just two years old, San Francisco-based Smitten has two locations open and two more are planned. Look for copycat chains to spring up in 2014.
Savory umami — also known as “the fifth taste” after salty, sweet, sour, and bitter — is gaining an audience with diners who crave new flavors.
The case-in-point for the rise of this flavor is the growing success of franchise chain Umami Burger. The Los Angeles-based chain, which was a Nation’s Restaurant News “Hot Concepts” 2013 winner, has grown to 22 units and now has restaurants in Florida and New York City. Besides the savory burgers, the 4-year-old chain is spreading the umami flavor around with a line of salts and sauces.
For more sneak peeks at what you’ll find on restaurant menus next year, click here for 12 hot 2014 food trends.