Top Menu Trends for 2015 - Culinary Forecast Predicts Local Sourcing, Environmental Sustainability, Healthful Kids’ Meals

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) each year gets in the kitchen with chefs to reveal the top menu trends for the coming year. For its annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast, the NRA surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – to find which foods, cuisines, beverages and culinary themes will be hot trends on restaurant menus in 2015.

Top 10 food trends for 2015:

    Locally sourced meats and seafood
    Locally grown produce
    Environmental sustainability
    Healthful kids’ meals
    Natural ingredients/minimally processed food
    New cuts of meat
    Hyper-local sourcing
    Sustainable seafood
    Food waste reduction/management
    Farm/estate branded items

For complete What’s Hot in 2015 results, video and downloadable images, visit Restaurant.org/FoodTrends.

“As consumers today increasingly incorporate restaurants into their daily lives, they want to be able to follow their personal preferences and philosophies no matter where or how they choose to dine,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association. “So, it’s only natural that culinary themes like local sourcing, sustainability and nutrition top our list of menu trends for 2015. Those concepts are wider lifestyle choices for many Americans in other aspects of their lives that also translate into the food space.”

“Chefs are committed to supporting their communities and helping make responsible food choices,” said Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC, national president of the American Culinary Federation. “I am pleased that members of the American Culinary Federation continue to support local sourcing and sustainable food practices as an annual trend and are paving the way for these values to become part of everyday American cooking.”

On the drink menu, the What’s Hot in 2015 survey predicts the top five alcohol and cocktail trends will be:

    Micro-distilled/artisan spirits
    Locally produced beer/wine/spirits
    Onsite barrel-aged drinks
    Regional signature cocktails
    Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients)

For the first time, the What’s Hot survey highlights overarching trends to watch in 2015:

    Environmental sustainability remains among the hottest trends, with restaurateurs focusing on food waste reduction as a way to both go green and manage rising food costs.
    Hyper-local sourcing continues to gain momentum with restaurants including house-made, farm-branded and artisan items.
    Children’s meals are becoming increasingly gourmet and healthful, as well as more adventurous in flavor profiles.
    Ethnic cuisines are continuing to become more mainstream and ethnic ingredients such as cheeses, flour and condiments are increasingly being used in non-ethnic dishes.
    Common preparation methods are returning with a new twist, such as pickling with specialty vinegars and fermented flavor profiles.

When asked which current food trend will be the hottest menu trends 10 years from now, environmental sustainability topped the list, followed by local sourcing, nutrition and ethnic cuisines and flavors.

The NRA surveyed 1,276 American Culinary Federation members October-November 2014, asking them to rate 231 items as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite” on menus in 2015.

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