Culinary and Cooking Trends: What’s in Store for 2014?

Looking back at the top culinary trends for 2013, top chefs and restaurateurs from around the country have collaborated to come up with the predicted culinary trends for 2014. There are multiple lists circulating the web, with themes and topics that include restaurant cuisine, supermarket trends, food trends, and cooking styles. Here are ten of the predicted trends that the chefs at Star Career Academy are most excited about.

Locally sourced and grown
The most popular trend predicted for the New Year by far, locally sourced meats and seafood (as well as locally grown produce) topped almost every list that has been published so far. Many chefs across the country already pride themselves on cooking only with locally sourced and grown ingredients, and restaurant chains such as Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill are bringing widespread popularity to eating locally and with integrity. (I bet small farmers all over are very happy about this trend!) Another spinoff of this trend is called “hyper-local sourcing,” which are essentially restaurant-maintained gardens. Smaller, niche restaurants already maintain and grow all of their own fresh produce, altering their menus seasonally (depending on what they are growing). Restaurants can now change their “made fresh to order” practice and offer meals as “picked fresh to order.”

Alternative style cuisine
With the growth of the Internet, many eaters are becoming more knowledgeable about what they eat, which has thus led to an increase in alternative diet styles. Chefs are starting to catch on and as a result – more vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and paleo options are popping up on menus everywhere. Other diet styles that are trending include dairy-free, soy-free, raw vegan and refined sugar-free.

A twist on children’s cuisine and childhood classics
This is a combination of a few related trends, but they all orbit around one central theme: children. Childhood obesity is more prevalent and seems to be growing, and in response, many parents are starting to concentrate on teaching their kids (at a young age) the importance of healthy eating. As a result, restaurants are beginning to offer more healthful options for children with menu items that include whole wheat starches and baked or grilled meats (as opposed to fried) and vegetables (as opposed to fries). Some restaurants are also starting to offer a gourmet twist on childhood classics (for those diners who are nostalgic for their youth). You can expect to see artisan, “highbrow” peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, lobster mac-n-cheese, and truffle perogies showing up on menus. (We are wondering whether they will be on the kid’s menu or the adult menu!)

 No-waste cooking 

“No-waste cooking” is something that – believe it or not – our ancient, ancient, ancient, ancestors used to do. Killing an animal during the primal ages was seen as a gift from the gods or from Mother Earth. Thus, nothing from the animal was wasted. The skin was dried and used for clothing, bones were sharpened and used as tools, meat was well…eaten, and the organs (if not eaten) were dried and used as storage pouches. Although not as drastic, many people nowadays are getting into the trend of no-waste cooking, whether it is nose-to-tail or root-to-stalk. Offal (organ meat) is showing up on menus as well as dishes that use more than the main fruits of a plant. Many bloggers have also come up with “at home” ways to reduce food waste, such as soaking soft celery in water with lemon juice to crisp it up again, or storing lettuce in a brown paper bag to help regulate the appropriate amount of air that leafy greens require.

Starches and grains: ancient and non-wheat
Whether you notice them in restaurants or supermarkets, ancient grains and non-wheat starches are continuing the slow, upward climb they have been on for the past few years (which is maybe growing a little faster with the recent popularity of going gluten-free). You’ve probably already heard of quinoa, buckwheat and barley, but the other grains in the spotlight are kamut, millet, spelt, amaranth and bulgur. These grains aren’t only appearing as side dishes to proteins; many people are starting to make these the “star” of a meal, or are even baking with finely ground versions of them.

Tasting, tapas and small plates
Going to an expensive or impossible-to-get-a-reservation restaurant can sometimes lead to extreme anxiety among patrons. Many wish to order the best thing on the menu, or be happy with what they order so they can get the most out of their experience (or justify spending an exorbitant amount on a meal). This can be an especially big problem if you cannot decide between two or three different options, and the person you are with isn’t willing to get one of those to split with you. You may have started to notice three different solutions to this problem which are in fact all very similar. Some restaurants are turning to “tasting only” menus (serving something like a 10-16 course, prix fixe menu that allows you to taste the best of all they have to offer). Tapas have been around for a long time and are very popular in Spanish and Latin American cooking. Tapas are small, savory dishes that consist of canapés or snacks that are usually served in a bar. They are great when you are with a group of friends, or aren’t looking for a very formal dinner. Small plates are similar to tapas (in a “heavy hors d’oeuvres” style), in that you can go to a restaurant and order a few different options, which is especially good if (as mentioned before), you could not decide on just one.

Single-item restaurants
If you are a native New Yorker, you can attest to the growing number of “single-item restaurants.” Although these places have been around for some time, the recent popularity of fusion foods such as Cronuts and ramen burgers will help ensure the popularity of single item-restaurants, which offer multiple variations on one dish. Restaurants like Pommes Frites (French fries,) S’mac (macaroni and cheese,) and Vanessa’s Dumpling House have already gained a regular following of comfort foodies. Who knows? Maybe the mastermind behind the ramen burger will open up a storefront, upgrading from his stand at Smorgasburg, the Brooklyn-based flea food market. 

Asian invasion
Perhaps the saddest news in 2013 (at least among the culinary world) was the (temporary) closing of the California-based Sriracha plant. Upon hearing the news, Asian hot sauce lovers flocked to supermarkets to stockpile on the thick red stuff before it sold out for good. Lay’s Potato Chips will have to look beyond their Sriracha-flavored chips for a new Asian-themed flavor. Also accompanying the Sriracha craze is a shift in the popularity of Korean cuisine from Chinese cuisine. Many college campuses across the country have noticed Korean rice bowl stations showing up in their dining halls, and they were welcomed with open arms. Let’s be honest, though. You can’t go wrong with Oriental food, no matter what country within the Asian continent it comes from.

Grocery store goes viral
You can thank the food bloggers of Pinterest for this one. According to supermarketguru.com, “57 percent of Pinterest is made up of food-related content, with one-third of users saying they have purchased food or cooking items after seeing something on the site.“ Don’t be surprised if food blogs and food related posts on Pinterest eventually have a “click to order button,” where viewers can purchase all of the items in a given recipe with the click of a button…

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