Thursday, December 6, 2012

Survey: Restaurants target kids, mixology for 2013

In case you have not yet decided what you will be eating in 2013, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) has figured it out for you.

Each year, the industry organization compiles a "What’s Hot" forecast for menu trends for the coming year, basing it on interviews with 1,800 members of the American Culinary Federation.

Luckily, I don't see any snout-to-tail offerings on the list. Nor do I see any foams. What there is, then, must be food or food-related. and based on real people's likes and dislikes. Things such as regionally-sourced ingredients.

Children's nutrition for example, is a major "trend."

"It is encouraging to see that children’s nutrition remains a top priority for chefs and that they continue to put their creativity in healthful kids meals to work on restaurant menus,” said Joy Dubost, director of Nutrition & Healthy Living for the NRA. “We have seen an increasing interest in health and nutrition among consumers over the last several years, and that interest is also extended to children’s menus, which has helped make our Kids LiveWell program so successful."

This year, the survey also was expanded to include nearly 200 professional bartenders, members of the United States Bartenders’ Guild. They forecast onsite, barrel-aged drinks, food-and-liquor pairings, and culinary cocktails will be the hottest trends on restaurant drink menus in the new year.

"Artisan products, local sourcing and culinary creativity are trendy on restaurant menus and our new research shows that to also be true behind the bar,” said Hudson Riehle, NRA's senior vice president of research. "Increasing recognition of mixology has elevated restaurant drink menus to a new level that allows bartenders to showcase their skills in blending textures and flavors similarly to how chefs approach food in the kitchen. This is good news for today’s increasingly sophisticated and adventurous consumers, who have a wider variety of alcoholic beverages from which to choose when dining out."

The Top 20 trends as listed by the survey (warning: some seem a bit repetitive):
1. Locally-sourced meats and seafood.
2. Locally-grown produce.
3. Healthful kids' meals.
4. Environmental sustainability.
5. Children's nutrition.
6. New cuts of meat (Denver steak, pork flat iron, etc.)
7. Hyper-local sourcing (restaurant gardens, etc.)
8. Gluten-free cuisine.
9. Sustainable seafood.
10. Whole grain items in kids' meals.
11. Farm/estate-branded items.
12. Non-wheat noodles/pasta (quinoa, rice, buckwheat, etc.).
13. Non-traditional fish (such as branzino, barramundi, Arctic char).
14. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (coconut milk pancakes, favored Asian syrups, etc.)
15. Fruit/vegetable children's side items.
16. Health/nutrition.
17. Half portions/smaller portions at lower prices.
18. House-made/artisan ice cream.
19. Black/forbidden rice.
20. Food trucks.

Go here for the region’s best local food & drinks events calendar.

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