What’s hot on restaurant menus in 2011?

Here’s the roundup:

1.   The National Restaurant Association Chef Survey 2011

Last October, as they do every year, The National Restaurant Association conducted an online survey among more than 1,500 chefs. Chefs were given a list of culinary items, cuisines, themes and preparation methods and were asked to rate each item as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news” or “perennial favorite” on restaurant menus in 2011.

Top 20 Trends

1.   Locally sourced meats and seafood

2.   Locally grown produce

3.   Sustainability

4.   Nutritionally balanced children’s dishes

5.   Hyper-local (e.g. restaurant gardens, do your own butchering)

6.   Children’s nutrition

7.   Sustainable seafood

8.   Gluten-free/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.         Half-portions/smaller portion for a smaller price

14.         Organic produce

15.         Nutrition/health

16.         Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients)

17.         Newly fabricated cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, Petite Tender)

18.         Fruit/vegetable children’s side items

19.         Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. Asian-flavored syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)

20.         Artisan cheeses

Read the National Restaurant Survey results in full (PDF).

2.   Baum & Whitman International Restaurant Consultants’ Food & Dining Trends for Restaurants & Hotels 2011.

–      Old Italian is newly respectable. Unfamiliar but authentic regional Italian ingredients are jazzing up old favorites.

–      Good News at the Top. Businesses will return to upscale restaurants.

–      Bricks-and-mortar vs. meals-on-wheels. Food trucks are driving restaurant owners nuts.

–      Making customers unwelcome. Restaurants trying to save a buck.

–      Grits will leap from morning food to an all purpose starch.

–      “Free from”…gluten-free, lactose-free, menus.

–      Swapping…but with restaurants. Impromptu food places will pop up all over…some for a night, some for a week and kitchen swapping.

Read the Baum & Whitman’s Trends Report in full (PDF).

3.   McCormick Flavor Forecast 2011 Flavor Trends

Food Flavor Trends for 2011:

–      Spirit of Discovery – A hunger for international culinary adventure propels exploration of new ingredients and techniques

–      Flavor with Benefits – Eating for wellness is more delicious than ever

–      Invigorating and Uplifting – Exciting pops of flavor bring new energy to dining

–      Soul Satisfaction – Comforting favorites soothe the mind, heart and taste buds

–      Craveable Contrasts – The interplay of tastes, textures and visual cues adds fun and excitement to the basic pleasures of eating

Top 10 Flavor Pairings for 2011:

–      Fennel & Peri-Peri Sauce

–      Pickling Spice & Rice Vinegar

–      Roasted Curry Powder & Wild Mushrooms

–      Caramelized Honey & Adzuki Red Beans

–      Ancho Chile Pepper & Hibiscus

–      Thyme & Stone Fruits

–      Mustard Seed & Vermouth

–      Cilantro & Nut Butters

–      Herbes de Provence & Popcorn

–      Green Peppercorn & Goat’s Milk

Read McCormick’s Flavor Forecast 2011 in full (PDF).

4.   FoodChannel dot com Reveals Top Food Trends for 2011

Top 10 Foods to Watch:
1. Small Pies
2. Sausage
3. Nutmeg
4. Moonshine
5. Gourmet Ice Pops
6. Grits
7. Sweet Potatoes
8. Fin fish
9. Cupuaçu fruit
10. Beans
Read FoodChannel dot com’s top 10 foods to watch in full

Top 10 Food Trends to Watch:
1. Canning makes a comeback
2. Gender roles switching in the kitchen
3. Locavores – Love your local grower
4. Don’t ask and don’t tell the calorie counts in your food
5. An appetite for food apps
6. Small (business) is the new big business
7. Fresh food every day
8. Chefs in the cafeteria
9. Discomfort foods
10. Foods that keep us young, strong and active
Read FoodCannel dot com’s top 10 food trends to watch in full

5. Food Trend Predictions for 2011 Epicurious Predicts

Food Halls

America may be a century or two behind on this trend, but we are finally embracing the food hall…read more.

Korean Cuisine

Could kimbap be the next sushi? Evidence is mounting that smoky, piquant Korean is America’s next big cuisine…read more.


Cupcakes and pies are looking downright crusty these days. Macarons, usually made with ground almonds or almond paste, sugar, and egg whites, will be 2011’s sweet sensation…read more.

Meatless Mondays & Tofu Thursdays

While it’s hip to go whole hog, with butchers gaining star power and roasts as the focus of many a dinner party, there is a concurrent trend of eating less meat…read more.


While foraging may be just a fancy term for the way humans have sourced food since time immemorial, top chefs are going beyond the farmer’s market and heading to quiet pastures or untrammeled forests in search of wild greens, nuts, berries, and even bark…read more.

Tiki Bar Cocktails

What’s old is new again, not just in fashion but also in cocktails. Polynesian-style drinks, those multi-ingredient fruit juice and rum concoctions adorned with flowers and umbrellas, will be the quaffs of choice in 2011…read more.

Pop-Up Cafés

Food trucks are as ubiquitous as, well, trucks, but the freewheeling, catch-as-catch-can insta-restaurants are now picking up steam. Why? …read more.

Sweet Potatoes

This sweet root vegetable, bursting with beta-carotene and fiber, is finally getting the love it so deserves…read more.

Urban Wineries

Move over, canning. The DIY trend is moving Sideways, enabling you to become the Mondavi of your block…read more.

Pimentón de La Vera

You may never have heard of this ingredient, but chances are you’ve used its less smoky cousin many times. A specialty of Spain’s La Vera region, this smoked paprika is a building block of Spanish cuisine…read more.

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