F&B: Top 20 Menu Trends of 2013

Meeting professionals who are looking to feed attendees' appetite for cutting-edge events — literally — should consult the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) "What's Hot in 2013" culinary forecast. Released last week, the forecast is based on a survey of more than 1,800 professional chefs, who collectively revealed their predictions for what will be hottest on menus in 2013.

Topping NRA's list are locally sourced meats, seafood and produce. "Local sourcing is [a] macro-trend that will maintain its momentum in the restaurant community in 2013," said NRA Director of Nutrition & Healthy Living Joy Dubost. "Whether purchased from local farms or grown in onsite gardens, many chefs make use of seasonal ingredients to showcase on their menus."

The top 20 menu trends for 2013 are:

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
11. Farm/estate branded items
12. Non-wheat noodles/pasta (e.g. quinoa, rice, buckwheat)
13. Non-traditional fish (e.g. branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)
14. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. Chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)
15. Fruit/vegetable children's side items
16. Health/nutrition as a culinary theme
17. Half-portions/smaller portions for a smaller price
18. House-made/artisan ice cream
19. Black/forbidden rice
20. Food trucks

In addition to overall trends, NRA identified which menu items are currently "hot" and which are "not." Among those that are not are: froth/air/foam, ramen, gazpacho, "fun-shaped" children's items, mini-burgers/sliders, flavored/enhanced water, bacon-flavored chocolate, flavored popcorn, fish collars, and desserts with bacon.

By contrast, favorites include: Italian cuisine, hamburgers/cheeseburgers, egg dishes, French toast, barbeque, fruit desserts (cobblers, pies, tarts), comfort foods, grilling, milkshakes and Mexican cuisine.

For more information, including complete survey results, visit www.Restaurant.org/FoodTrends.

For a recap of last week's top stories, check out MeetingNews Minute: