Local Foods, Healthful Kids’ Meals on the Menu

NRA survey reveals chefs’ top priorities for 2013

Local sourcing tops 2013 trends list

CHICAGO -- What a better way to discover the foodservice trends of 2013 than to ask those on the front lines? The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has revealed the results from its annual “What’s Hot in 2013” survey of more than 1,800 professional chefs, all members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

The survey found that children’s nutrition and local sourcing will continue to be the hottest trends on restaurant menus. The chefs also said the best ways to address rising food costs is to change menus, adjust plate composition and explore sourcing options.

Top 20 menu trends for 2013:
1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Locally grown produce
3. Healthful kids' meals
4. Environmental sustainability as a culinary theme
5. Children's nutrition as a culinary theme
6. New cuts of meat (e.g., Denver steak, pork flat iron, teres major)
7. Hyperlocal sourcing (e.g., restaurant gardens)
8. Gluten-free cuisine
9. Sustainable seafood
10. Whole-grain items in kids' meals
11. Farm/estate branded items
12. Non-wheat noodles/pasta (e.g., quinoa, rice, buckwheat)
13. Non-traditional fish (e.g., branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)
14. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g., chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)
15. Fruit/vegetable children's side items
16. Health/nutrition as a culinary theme
17. Half-portions/smaller portions for a smaller price
18. House-made/artisan ice cream
19. Black/forbidden rice
20. Food trucks

Items that received the highest scores as waning trends (i.e., yesterday’s news) are froth/air/foam, ramen, gazpacho, “fun-shaped” children’s items, mini-burgers/sliders, flavored/enhanced water, bacon-flavored chocolate, flavored popcorn, fish collars, and desserts with bacon.

Items that received the highest scores as perennial favorites are Italian cuisine, hamburgers/cheeseburgers, egg dishes, French toast, barbecue, fruit desserts (cobbler, pie, tart), comfort foods, grilling, milkshakes and Mexican cuisine.

Also included in the survey were questions about creating nutritious recipes. More than half (55%) of the chefs said they always make efforts to adjust dishes and recipes to be more healthful, while 37% said they cook with nutrition in mind, but that not all recipes are easily adjusted.

When asked how to best handle the increasing cost of ingredients, 32% said changing menus, 25% said adjusting plate composition, and another 24% said exploring new sourcing options. Only 4% said that raising menu prices is the best strategy.

Just over a quarter of the chefs (27%) ranked tablet computers such as iPads as the hottest technology trend in restaurants in 2013, followed closely by smartphone apps (25%). Nineteen percent said mobile/wireless/pay-at-the-table options will be the hottest tech trend.

The NRA surveyed 1,834 ACF member chefs in October and November 2012, asking them to rate 198 individual food items, beverages, preparation methods, cuisines and culinary themes as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news” or “perennial favorite” on restaurant menus in 2013. For more information, visit www.restaurant.org.