It's that time of year again, Anderson Cooper time, when everybody starts making lists from this year and predictions for next year. The Nation's Restaurant News is very fond of such lists, and has now polled chefs for their latest: the top 20 restaurant trends for 2011. The NRA (that would be the Nation's Restaurant Association, not the National Rifle Association) asked 1,527 chefs, all members of the American Culinary Federation, what they expected to trend up in 2011. Turn the page for the full list.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest predicted trends all have to do with the localization of food sources. Products that are sourced locally, food that is grown nearby or even in (or on top of) restaurants. Pretty soon every chef is going to have her own chicken coop and herb garden, it seems. Add locally produced wine and beer to the list too. So if you're a chef reading this, you may want to clear out your earthquake retrofitted basement for that beer-making experiment. Got a still? You may need one, not just to make your own gin fizzes from scratch, but to deal with what seems to be an increasing siege mentality. Cormac McCarthy would be proud, albeit hungry.
The Top 20 Trends for 2011:
1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Locally grown produce
4. Nutritionally balanced children's dishes
5. "Hyper local," such as restaurants with their own gardens and chefs who do their own butchering.
6. Children's nutrition
7. Sustainable seafood
8. Gluten-free food and being food allergy conscious
9. Simplicity/back to basics
10. Farm/estate-branded ingredients
11. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor
12. Locally produced wine and beer
13. Smaller portions for smaller prices
14. Organic produce
16. "Culinary" cocktails, for example ones that have savory or fresh ingredients
17. Newly fabricated cuts of meat such as the pork flat iron and the beef petit tender
18. Fruit and vegetables as children's side items
19. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items, such as Asian-flavored syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs and coconut milk pancakes
20. Artisan cheeses