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What are the latest culinary trends?


March 16, 2009
By National Restaurant Association

March 16, 2009 – A new National Restaurant Association survey of more than 1,600 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – reveals that nutrition and philosophy-driven food choices will be the hottest trends on restaurant menus in 2009.

Washington, D.C., December 9, 2008 – A new National Restaurant Association survey of more than 1,600 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – reveals that nutrition and philosophy-driven food choices will be the hottest trends on restaurant menus in 2009. Local produce, bite-size desserts, organics, healthful kids’ meals, and new cuts of meat top the list of nearly 210 culinary items in the third annual “What’s Hot” chef survey.

“Creativity has always been a hallmark of professional chefs. Today’s marketplace offers more options than ever before,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the Association. “As the wider trend of health continues to grow, the trend of choosing certain foods to follow one’s personal philosophy has also gained momentum in the culinary world.”

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ACF members are restaurant owners, culinary educators and executive chefs at restaurants, hotels and country clubs, “and they experience first-hand the latest trends,” said ACF national president John Kinsella, CMC, CCE, WGMC, AAC. “In 2009, we will see healthier menu options with an emphasis on produce and fruit, smaller dishes and fish, and an increase in the use of local and sustainable ingredients. Going green will no longer be an alternative, as it will affect everything we do in our industry, from the use of induction cooking to finding new and exciting local food sources. And the word ‘chef’ will represent and mean a chef who cooks healthy, flavorful foods.”

In October 2008, the Association surveyed 1,609 American Culinary Federation member chefs, asking them to rate 208 individual food/beverage items, preparation methods and culinary themes as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite” on restaurant menus in 2009.

Nutrition/health as a culinary theme is ranked number 11 in the survey, underscoring the growing trends of consumer interest in healthful living. Among the top 20 items, nutritionally balanced children’s dishes and side items, produce and fruit items, smaller dishes, fish and gluten-free/allergy-conscious meals illustrate that restaurant menus will continue to expand options for health-conscious diners.

Several among the top 20 trendy items are related to the emerging trend of philosophy-driven food choices, including local sourcing, organics, artisanal items, sustainable seafood and free-range pork/poultry. Locally grown produce – rated the number-one trend on restaurant menus in 2009 – has grown tremendously in popularity for a variety of reasons. The idea of farm-fresh fruit and vegetables and minimal transportation are appealing to many, and sourcing locally is also tied to supporting local communities and businesses. Food and beverage items produced by small, artisan businesses also hold appeal, as do animal welfare and environmental concerns.

The National Restaurant Association, founded in 1919, is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which is comprised of 945,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a work force of 13.1 million employees – making it the cornerstone of the economy, career opportunities and community involvement. Along with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Association works to represent, educate and promote the rapidly growing industry. For more information, visit www.restaurant.org .


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