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The National Restaurant Association (NRA) each year prepares its 'What’s Hot' culinary forecast of menu trends for the coming year. The NRA surveyed more than 1,800 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – to find that children’s nutrition and local sourcing will continue to be the hottest trends on restaurant menus in 2013.
What’s Hot chef survey - top 10 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. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
8. Gluten-free cuisine
9. Sustainable seafood
10. Whole grain items in kids' meals
'It is encouraging to see that children’s nutrition remains a top priority for chefs and that they continue to put their creativity in healthful kids meals to work on restaurant menus,' said Joy Dubost, Ph.D, R.D., director of Nutrition & Healthy Living for the National Restaurant Association. 'We have seen an increasing interest in health and nutrition among consumers over the last several years, and that interest is also extended to children’s menus, which has helped make our Kids LiveWell program so successful.'
'Local sourcing is another macro-trend that will maintain its momentum in the restaurant community in 2013. Whether purchased from local farms or grown in onsite gardens, many chefs make use of seasonal ingredients to showcase on their menus', Dubost added. Not only will ingredients continue to be local but in 2013 environmental sustainability is expected to become a more popular menu theme.
'I am pleased that members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF), who took part in the survey, continue to make children’s nutrition a top priority for 2013. Many ACF members are heavily involved in this effort all across the U.S., both in community programs and with Chefs Move to Schools,' said Michael Ty, ACF president. 'Making sure that nutritious food is available for children and their families, and for everyone in the U.S., is paramount to the future of food service. An emphasis on local sourcing can only further that effort, as chefs revise menus to better serve their customers while dealing with the increased cost of ingredients.'
Also included in the surveys were questions about other restaurant and bar trends. More than half of the chefs surveyed 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.
The NRA’s award-winning Kids LiveWell program is a voluntary industry-wide initiative designed to help parents make the healthful choice the easy choice for their children when dining out. Currently, the program includes more than 110 brands representing nearly 30,000 locations nationwide.