The National Restaurant Association has been surveying professional chef members of the American Culinary Federation for a decade to identify hot trends on restaurant menus. Results of the What’s Hot chef survey over time reveal that true trends keep evolving, while others are cooling off.
When asked in the What’s Hot in 2016 survey which current culinary trend has grown the most over the past 10 years, 44 percent said local sourcing, followed by gluten-free cuisine (21 percent), and environmental sustainability (13 percent).
Looking forward, 41 percent of the chefs believe environmental sustainability will be the hottest trend over the next decade, followed by local sourcing (21 percent) and nutrition (14 percent). Only 7 percent believe gluten-free cuisine will remain a hot trend.
In 2006, the top 10 trends were: bite-size desserts, locally grown produce, organic produce, flatbread, bottled water, specialty sandwiches, Asian appetizers, specialty coffee, whole grain bread and Mediterranean cuisine.
“Some top trends from 2006 remain hot today, such as locally grown produce, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t evolved. For example, a decade ago souring local was primarily a chef-driven trend that involved shopping at farmers’ markets. Today, it has become a much wider concept that involves the entire supply chain,” said Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the NRA.
“On the other hand, some trends have cooled off significantly, such as bite-size desserts and Mediterranean cuisine. While both remain among the 200+ items on our trends list, fewer chefs consider them hot trends and more consider them perennial favorites these days,” Stensson said.
“Bottled water is another item that the chefs believe have run its course as a hot trend. In 2006, 75 percent of the chefs said it was a hot trend. Eight years later, only 14 percent considered it a trend, leading to it being dropped off the list altogether,” Stensson added.