Monday, January 5, 2015

Chefs grow lukewarm to insects, foam and gazpacho

Nothing lasts forever, including food trends. What was hot yesterday might now be yesterday's news. The National Restaurant Association's What's Hot in 2015 culinary forecast identifies food and drink items that are no longer trending on menus. For 2015, insects as an alternative protein, foam garnish, and chilled tomato soup top the list of yesterday's news.

Rounding out the top 10 list of things that were trendy at one time, but professional chefs now believe are not anymore, are bacon-flavored chocolate, popovers, mini-burgers/sliders, molecular gastronomy, edible flowers, flavored water, and tater tots. Further, sweet-potato fries, fun-shaped kids' items and liquid-nitrogen freezing also ranked high on the yesterday's news list.

"When an item is losing ground as a hot trend, it can go one of three ways. It can move toward becoming a perennial favorite on menus - something that is timelessly popular. It can bounce back as trendy soon after dipping as a yo-yo trend that hasn't quite found its place yet. Or it can fade away further to become a fondly remembered thing of the past," said Annika Stensson, the National Restaurant Association's senior manager of research communications. "Only time will tell which way this year's yesterday's news items will go."

In addition to identifying yesterday's news items, What's Hot in 2015 chef survey also analyzes items that have lost the most momentum as hot trends since the previous year's survey. Some of those items still show up toward the top of the hot trends list, but fewer chefs now rate them as a hot trend, indicating that they are cooling off. For 2015, bruschetta, kale salads and nose-to-tail cooking each lost 10 percentage points in their hot-trend rating. In addition, hybrid desserts, house-made soft drinks and gluten-free cuisine lost ground. 

In the What's Hot in 2014 survey, nose-to-tail cooking had gained 16 percent as a hot trend, making this year's drop less severe. However, Greek yogurt lost 11 percent in its hot-rating in last year's survey, and another 6 percent this year.

The NRA surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – to identify trends on restaurant menus in 2015. The survey asked the chefs to rate 230+ culinary items as a hot trend, yesterday's news, or perennial favorite. 

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