Children’s nutrition, local foods to top menu trends

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — The National Restaurant Association has revealed its “What’s Hot in 2012” trend list, which shows children’s nutrition and local sourcing will be big on menus in 2012.

The trend findings are based off a survey of 1,800 professional chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation. The top trends are:

1) Locally sourced meats and seafood
2) Locally grown produce
3) Healthful kids’ meals
4) Hyper-local items
5) Sustainability as a culinary theme
6) Children’s nutrition as a culinary theme
7) Gluten-free/food allergy-conscious items
8) Locally produced wine and beer
9) Sustainable seafood
10) Whole grain items in kids’ meals
11) Newly fabricated cuts of meat
12) Farm/estate-branded items
13) Food trucks/street food
14) Artisan spirits
15) House-made/artisan ice cream
16) Health/nutrition as a culinary theme
17) Non-traditional fish
18) Fruit/vegetable kids’ side items
19) Children’s mini-meals
20) Culinary cocktails

“The top menu trends we’re seeing in our ‘What’s Hot in 2012’ survey reflect the macro-trends we have seen grow over the last several years,” said Joy Dubost, director of nutrition and healthy living for the National Restaurant Association. “Nutrition — especially when it comes to children — is becoming a major focus for the nation’s nearly one million restaurants in tune with consumers’ increasing interest in healthful eating.

“Local sourcing of everything — from meat and fish to produce to alcoholic beverages — is another big trend for 2012. Local farms and food producers have become an important source of ingredients for chefs and restaurants wishing to support the members of their business community and highlight seasonal ingredients of their menus.”

About one-fourth of the chefs surveyed said smartphone apps will be the biggest technology trend in the coming year, and another 25% said tablet computers will be the top technology trend. In addition, 6 out of 10 chefs said they would consider a food truck as an entrepreneurial business venture.

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